1. These believers clearly knew when the Holy Spirit was speaking. There is no mention of any emotional hype that forced them to hear the Spirit. Their minds were clearly on worship and fasting, but they were not so preoccupied with what they were doing that they were not also consciously listening for God to speak.
2. The proof of (1) is in Antioch’s immediate obedience! “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (13:3). There was no mission board meeting to approve their sending. There was no requirement that these two missionaries go out and get support before heading to the field. There was perfect unity in mind and heart with the Holy Spirit’s voice and instructions.
3. The Holy Spirit set these men apart “for the work to which I (Holy Spirit) have called them” (13:2). I come back to this verse because I believe it is the most misunderstood part of this instruction. Because the work of missions is the message of God, sent by God, and empowered by God to reach the nations for the glory of God, it cannot be controlled by man or by man’s organizations. We must believe that the Holy Spirit is God and what He does is perfect.
These are essential for “effective missions”! So I ask you the question; are you and is your church spiritually prepared for God to move in this way? If not, why not? Would there be a willingness to obey immediately without any prerequisites? Do you really trust what God will do through persons sent out by the Holy Spirit? Think carefully before you answer that question. How you answer will tell a lot about your trust in God’s work.