One of the primary steps toward unity is corporate prayer and fasting. Throughout church history, God has moved when His people come together to pray and fast. The Day of Pentecost occurred because of the 120 in the Upper Room who gathered to fulfill Jesus’ last command to them: “Tarry in Jerusalem until you receive power from on high.” Many of these same disciples had experienced miraculous healings and deliverance when they prayed for others under the authority of Jesus. But they needed more: they needed the power of the Holy Spirit.
This group was truly sold out. I am convinced they didn’t know what was going to happen or how long it was going to take. But they had purposed to stay there and pray there until something happened. I am also convinced they prayed and fasted during this time. After the initial group filling of the Holy Ghost, Peter spoke about the prophecy in Joel 2:28-9. Going back to the beginning of that prophecy about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, there is a key word: “And it shall come to pass afterward…” After what? Looking back in the chapter we see a call to a time of corporate prayer and fasting (Joel 2:12, 15).
It took 10 days of corporate prayer and fasting for the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 10 days of learning unity through prayer and fasting. You will learn more about another’s heart through sharing desperate prayers together than through many days of talking. The “one accord” unity in the book of Acts isn’t built without praying together. Can’t be done. During the 10 days leading up to Pentecost, we see the unity building in Acts 1:14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…”
The time was now ripe for the outpouring. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Acts 2:1. Both the unity and the power of the Holy Ghost continued to build from there. “…they lifted up their voice to God with one accord…” (Acts 4:24) “and when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all in one accord in Solomon’s porch) (Acts 5:12).
We see this same model in place at the Welsh and Azuza Street revivals in the early 1900s. Evan Roberts and a small band of young people prayed and fasted. The revival began with prayer, and grew into meetings of incredible unity where the Holy Spirit would lead the chorus of 1000 people like a master conductor. Frank Bartleman prayed and fasted for 16 months after the death of his young daughter until the revival fires started at Azuza Street. William Seymour and a small band of believers prayed and fasted for 10 days before the outpouring began in a believer’s home and then moved to Azuza Street.
When Paul had his “Damascus Road” experience with God, he knew enough to go into a time of prayer and fasting (3 days) before Ananias showed up. Cornelius, the Roman centurion, was praying and fasting before the Holy Spirit directed Peter to take the outpouring to the Gentiles. The leaders at Antioch were in a time of prayer and fasting when the Holy Spirit directed them to send Paul and Barnabus out. Paul’s ministry, which would rock the world, began because of corporate prayer and fasting.
The 24 hour prayer chain will take place at the Summit church on February 21-22, from 7 pm Friday night to 7 pm Saturday night. We are in a corporate season of prayer and fasting, with this 24 hour period being an intense, focused time for our body. If we’re going to take our community, we need to start with corporate prayer building into a “one accord” unity. Come as we seek God together and learn of each other “after the Spirit.”