The disciples in the New Testament spent a lot of time in fasting and prayer, after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Perhaps this was due to the many challenges that they experienced following Jesus’s ascension. We also saw Jesus’s response to John the Baptist’s disciples, when they enquired about his disciples and fasting. Jesus said that they were like guests at a wedding with the bridegroom, and so they could not fast. “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day” (Mark 2:20).
Later on in Acts 13, the disciples experienced death and imprisonment. Saul was a major antagonist of Christians until his amazing conversation on the road to Damascus. Soon after his conversion, Paul started ministering with the other disciples. Barnabas was the person who introduced Saul to the disciples and explained his conversation. Saul was now Paul, he was zealous for God and went around spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul also faced prosecution and threats to his life and spent time in prayer and fasting with the other disciples. It was during their prayer, fasting and worship session when Paul and Barnabas’s appointment happened.
‘Set them apart for me for the work which I have called them to.’ This was the leading of the Holy Spirit and the disciples obeyed. After fasting and praying, they laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas and sent them on their assignment. Why was it important for the disciples to lay their hands on Paul and Barnabas? This was the way that they demonstrated the transferring of the anointing and their divine appointment. In the Old Testament, the prophets would mostly anoint those who were appointed by pouring oil on their heads. The New Testament references to spiritual appointment was through the laying on of hands.
“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you” (1 Timothy 4:14). Timothy later expounded on this and made mention of the elders laying their hands for appointing. This would allow someone to operate in their spiritual gifts and abilities. What this meant is that being gifted did not automatically mean that someone was appointed. It is true that our gifts often point to our areas of spiritual gifting and opens doors of opportunity. We need to seek God in fasting and prayer, to confirm how he wants us to use our gifts for the expansion of his kingdom.