Acts 13:1-3—Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Antioch was one of the first churches to be established after the persecution in Jerusalem. It was here that believers in Christ were first called Christians. According to Ephesians 4:11, the prophets and teachers were leaders in the church. They were probably the elders of that congregation. This is an important passage because it shows us how they functioned. They gathered together to worship and fast. How many times have you heard of the leaders of a local church or city gather just for that purpose? As they did so, the Holy Spirit gave them instructions. The passage doesn’t say whether it was an audible voice or a still small voice in each of their hearts or a word through one of them that was confirmed in the hearts of the others. It is probably good for us that we don’t know or we would insist that He always work the same way. One thing we do know, they all realized the same thing. They were to separate out Barnabas and Saul for a special work. This was their call, to go out on a mission of spreading the Gospel. They didn’t stop their fasting once they had heard, they continued in prayer and fasting and laid hands on them. They were asking the blessing and anointing of God for the work He had called them to. Once they heard the voice of the Spirit directing them, they didn’t just say goodbye to these brothers. They did their part praying for them to be empowered for their mission. God invites us to participate in His work. Not many are called in this fashion today. Perhaps if we had more of this all out worship with fasting we would see the Holy Spirit move in ways that we unanimously discern to be the hand of God.