14 Purposes of Fasting
By Pastor Bill Murchison
We have seen a lot of different purposes of fasting. Today, I want to look at still another purpose – ordaining leaders in the church.
In Acts 13:1-3, the leadership team at the church at Antioch was ministering to the Lord and fasting. What a great example they have set for every church leadership team. Leaders are to worship and minister to the Lord. They are to lead and to set the example for the rest of the church. We are all called to worship the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
“While they were ministering and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” In Jeremiah 1:4-5, the Lord tells Jeremiah, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” God told Ananias in Acts 9:15 that Paul was a chosen instrument of His to bear His name before the Gentiles. God has a plan for each of our lives and He has called and appointed some to be leaders in the church. We also find this principle in Acts 20:28, where Paul tells the Ephesian elders that it is the Holy Spirit that made them overseers.
The Holy Spirit spoke to Jeremiah through a word of the Lord. He spoke to Ananias through a vision. He spoke to the elders at Antioch through a prophetic word. Visions, dreams, and prophetic words very often come during times that we are ministering to the Lord and fasting. It is important for leaders to press in and seek the Lord about who He is calling into leadership. That is what the elders at Antioch were doing.
Before Jesus ordained the twelve to be apostles, He spent the whole night in prayer. He was praying and seeking guidance and confirmation about which disciples were to be called as apostles. Although the Scripures do not say that Jesus was fasting and praying, I believe that Jesus was both fasting and praying about who the Father was calling to be apostles. (See Luke 6:12.) In 1 Timothy 5:22 we are warned not to lay hands on anyone hastily. Therefore, it is important to seek the Lord by prayer and fasting before raising up leaders in the church.
Father, help us to be a church that first and foremost ministers to You. Help us to seek Your guidance about all of our decisions, and especially decisions about raising up leaders in the church. We want to hear and follow Your plans and purposes for the saints in our congregation. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.