Derek Prince - If You Want To Know The Mind of God You Must Be Prepared To Fast
This is an excerpt from: The Headship of Jesus - Part 2
So we see then Paul's apostleship originated with God the Father and was transmitted through Jesus Christ. Now in Galatians 1, Paul also speaks about his apostleship but he traces it the opposite direction. Galatians 1:1: Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead. So in 1 Timothy, he's looking at the descending authority from God the Father through Jesus. In Galatians, he's looking up through Jesus to the Father. But the origin of his appointment as apostle was God the Father operating through Jesus Christ the Son. That, in a certain sense, was settled in heaven. But it had to be made effective on earth. So now we have to turn to the book of Acts, the 13th chapter. Here we have a pattern of how heavenly authority is communicated and made effective in the church.
I want to suggest to you that there is no reason I can think of why what took place here in Acts 13 in the church at Antioch could not be reproduced in the church anywhere on earth today. And that's important because it involves the emergence of apostolic ministry. So we'll read the first four verses of Acts 13. Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers; [five are mentioned] Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger Do you know what Niger means? Black. So he was dark skinned. Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch... In other words, he was really part of the ruling household. ...and Saul. Five men who were recognized as prophets and teachers. Are we prepared to accept that there can be prophets and teachers in the church today?
All right. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted I checked with the NIV just before I began to speak the NIV doesn't say minister, it says worship the Lord. Which is a legitimate interpretation. How do we minister to the Lord? We worship Him. That's one way of ministering to the Lord. So as they ministered to the Lord [or worshiped] and fasted Fasting is another of those things which is being restored to the church a little bit against some people's inclination.
I was saved in the army in 1941, the British army. And because I was in the army and I was almost immediately sent overseas and spent the next three years in the deserts of North Africa, and never saw a church I hardly ever saw a chaplain I was dependent on God, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. I mean, I didn't have any other source. I have to say I'm rather grateful in a way because during that time I read the Bible through several times. Later when I started going to church I discovered there were a lot of things in the Bible they didn't tell you about in the church. But I'd already read the Bible. I just mention this in a way that I can't really explain, God made it clear to me that I was to fast one day every week. I chose Wednesday. And basically, all through my military service which went on for another four and a half years, I fasted every Wednesday.
When we were in Egypt in the desert you can't, when you're living in a lorry with eleven other soldiers I was, incidentally, in charge of a squad of stretcher bearers. Eight blaspheming, ungodly British soldiers. None of them wanted to be stretcher bearers. We lived on a three ton lorry which was driven by two drivers so there were ten of us plus me, and I was supposed to be in charge of everything. We came to be known in the unit as Prince's Pioneers. But we didn't give ourselves the name, it just got dubbed on us. So we had a little flag, I'm always sorry that I lost the flag. But wherever we bivouacked we put out our flag, Prince's Pioneers. Anyhow, when you're living that close with men and you can't escape people in the desert. I mean there was no way I could fast secretly.
So every Wednesday all the other soldiers knew I wouldn't be eating. Well, some of you know that all Muslims have one month in the year called Ramadan when they don't really fast, they don't eat in the daytime but they make up for it at night. I don't really call that fasting. Anyhow, all the soldiers in my unit called Wednesday Ramadan from then onwards. I'd have to say looking back, I think that was a key to the spiritual progress that I made. And basically, there have been very, very few periods in my life where I have not fasted one day a week.
Today Ruth and I regularly observe the same day, Wednesday. Sometimes it used to be Thursday but it's Wednesday now. I don't know whether you know that John Wesley refused to ordain to the Methodist ministry any man who would not promise to fast until at least 4 P.M. every Wednesday and every Friday. And he wrote in his journal, 'I am persuaded that anyone who has light on fasting and does not practice it will backslide as surely as anyone who has light on prayer and does not practice it.' When I started to teach fasting about 1949 in London, people looked at me as though I'd come from another planet. I mean, it was just absolutely unheard of that Christians should fast.
Today we've made some progress. I think there's a lot more progress to make. I pointed out to people that Jesus in the sermon on the mount did not say if you fast, He said when you fast. He assumed His disciples would fast but He gave them certain regulations. What I'm saying is, if you study the book of Acts, there are two crucial events in the development of the church. One is here in Acts 13, it's the sending out of the first apostles that are recorded after the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 14:23 you have the appointment of local elders in a new church. And both those two crucial decisions were accompanied by fasting and prayer of the leadership. I suggest to you the indication is that Christians, or a church, that really wants to know the mind of God needs to be prepared to fast to hear from God.
Here they were, ministering to the Lord, or worshiping and fasting. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to them. You notice the initiative came from God. But it came from the triune God. God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. You see? And what was the declaration? The apostleship of Paul and also Barnabas. Verse 2: As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Notice the initiative is totally with God. It wasn't a good idea, it wasn't something that Saul and Barnabas were eager to do, they didn't apply to the church to be recognized. The initiative was completely with God. Because the church had opened itself up to receive from God. If we don't open ourselves up, how can we receive?
Verse 3: Then having fasted and prayed Notice they didn't fast once only. They fasted once to hear from God and they fasted the second time to commit those people to God. Then having fasted and prayed, laid hands on them, and they sent them away. When they were sent away they became sent away ones. What's one word for that? Apostles, that's right. That's what the word apostle means, it means somebody sent off. Now, I love the next verse, I don't want to stop at verse 3. So they, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. What I'm pointing out is that in that verse the word which says being sent by the Holy Spirit is a word that means the Holy Spirit accompanied them. It's not the same word that's used in verse 3. The people sent them off but the Holy Spirit went with them. You understand? That's important.