Praying for Church Planting through the Book of Acts
The thirteenth chapter of Acts marks a significant shift in the book. For the last twelve chapters the book has followed the ministry of Peter and select others (Stephen and Philip, primarily). Now the focus turns to Paul (Saul at this point). We find him in Antioch as one of the leaders of the church. Luke gives us a list of four other men: Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen. These five men are an unlikely team. Barnabas and Saul are Jewish Christians. Simeon and Lucius are African believers. Manaen was a friend of Herod, the Roman governor who had ordered the murder of infants in Bethlehem (Matt 2). Despite their differences, they were united in purpose and leadership of the church in Antioch. So we pray for a united leadership team that is committed to the mission and the message.
In two separate places Luke mentions that the church in Antioch was fasting. This fast was in the midst of worship and prayer. As a result, the Spirit speaks and makes his calling clear. He tells the church and its leaders to "set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." This commitment to prayer and fasting has made the voice of the Holy Spirit clear and certain. So, we pray to continue our commitment to prayer and fasting and that the Holy Spirit would speak clearly and certainly.