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Prayer, Fasting, and Missions (Acts 8:1-8; 13:1-5)

Prepare for Sunday worship by using the guide below.

Worship Songs

Let Your Kingdom Come
O How Good It Is
How Sweet and Aweful is This Place
All Glory Be To Christ

Acts 8:1-8, 13:1-5

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the cityof Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

13 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger,Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.

Summary

At the beginning of Acts, Jesus says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This commission is the backbone for the story of the expansion of the early church. They were Spirit-empowered witnesses first in Jerusalem. Then Acts 8:1-5 shows the gospel being carried to all Judea and Samaria as a result of persecution. Then Acts 13:1-5 shows the beginning of the gospel being carried into all the world. The church in Antioch takes this bold step in response to the Holy Spirit's leading, accompanied by two seasons of prayer and fasting. 

We want to learn from the example of these early followers, whose joy in God overflowed into talking about Jesus wherever they went. They were so earnest for the advance of this good news that they fasted for direction and success in their gospel endeavors.

Review and Apply

Jesus says, "You will be my witnesses." What does it mean to witness about Jesus?

In Acts 8, who are the people that were scattered and went about preaching the word? [Hint: it was not the apostles] What does this teach us?

What are your greatest inhibitions that hold you back from speaking about Jesus to non-Christians? What could you do to overcome these?

How does fasting advance the work of missions?