The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed
and turned to the Lord.
While they were worshipping the Lord...
So after they had fasted and prayed...
The "hand of God" in Scripture is a metaphor for the power of God. The power of God was present not just for show, but for results - a great number of people believed. The power of God led them to worship. "Worship" in this text is likened to "priestly work" - standing before God on behalf of people and standing before God on behalf of people. Fasting is giving up that which is normal, natural, and necessary in order to focus on one's relationship to God. The church at Antioch fasted, prayed, and their worship was made stronger.
If the church at Antioch is going to be a model for the church today, we have identified three more characteristics to develop:
Supernatural Power Christ-Exalting Worship God-Connecting Prayer
"The hand of God" and "the grace of God" are two phrases used to describe the favor of the Lord for the church at Antioch. It was demonstrated by large numbers of people turning to God, serious prayer and fasting, and the fellowship between Jew and Gentile. This was a church that could not be contained within walls, one that was living its connection to Christ everyday.
The church at Antioch focused its attention on God, standing before Him in worship, giving Him praise and worship. The results speak for themselves: many people came to believe. But note that church growth was not the reason for worship - it was a result of worship. If we plan and program worship to grow believers, we miss the mark. But if we focus on God alone, in praise and worship of Him, then a response will follow.
The church at Antioch understood that prayer connected them to the power of God. In today's terms, prayer was the fuel that drove the church at Antioch. And it was not superficial, recited prayer - it was prayer intensified by fasting, so that the focus could be on connecting with God.
Does your church have real spirituality? Is the power of God evident in the plans and directions of your ministry? When you worship, do you worship the power and glory of God, or put on a show? Is prayer your power source - or last resort?