Summary: There is a need for the church to turn back to prayer to advance the Kingdom of God
As we begin 1997, there is an important call, not only in the Assemblies of God, but in churches throughout the world to return to the alter, to return to prayer as a vital part of our Christian life. Throughout the month of January in the evening services I am going to be spending time calling us back into prayer, back to the alter, and allowing for times of commitment to this call. I am sure if we were to examine our own lives, we would find prayer an area we would acknowledge as essential to our faith, but lacking in our commitment.
David said in Psalm 109:4, "But I give myself unto prayer." I wonder tonight, how many of us in this room could say those same words with the conviction of David, knowing we are truly prayer warriors. We need to come back to that place of prayer, where we pray like David, where we pray with the fervency of the early church.
Turn with me this evening to Luke 11. Here we find recorded what we have commonly referred to as the Lord’s prayer. Here, the disciples had come to Jesus and asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Really, instead of being called the Lord’s prayer, it could well have been called the Disciples prayer. Over a period of time, the disciples who had been with Jesus, had witnessed Jesus in prayer, they I am sure had on many occasions heard Jesus in prayer as He spoke to God the Father and as they watched, and as they listened, it would only be natural that they themselves would desire to have the ability to pray like Him. They wanted to know how to pray. Prayer can be one of the greatest experiences of a Believers life. Lets read verses 1-4 together. I have printed it in your notes so we will all be using the same version of Scripture.
In the Gospel of John we find the Lord’s Prayer for the church. Turn to chapter 17 with me. (READ 5-26).
This is a powerful prayer for us today.
Prayer did not end with Jesus farewell prayer. In fact, prayer is mentioned in each of the first 14 chapters of the Book of Acts. The early church knew how to pray. When they had encountered difficulties, what did they do? They went to the Lord in prayer. When they were threatened, what did they do? They prayed. In fact, in Acts 12:5 we read where one of the leaders was in trouble and it states, "But prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him."
In Acts 4:24 we read one of the prayers of the early church. Peter and John has healed a lame beggar and while Peter was explaining to the people what had happened, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came to them and had placed them in jail. The next day they were brought before the Jewish council to explain what had been taking place. The council threatened them and told them not to speak of this to anyone again and they were released upon which they went to their companions to tell the news concerning what had taken place. We pick this up in verse 24, let me read this to you (READ 24-31).
They came together and asked God in prayer for help. Allow me to outline this prayer for you.
1. They stated who God is. In their prayer they said, "O Lord or as another translation states, "Thou art God." It is important to know where to address our prayers. And not only to know where but have a relationship to the One in which we cry out in prayer. The source of our hope, the answer to our prayer can only come from God, so we pray, "Oh Lord."
2. They stated what God did. "Thou who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and all this is in them." If God could do all of this, don’t you think He is capable of taking care of your needs?
3. In verses 25-28, they stated what God said.
4. In verse 29, they made their petition known to Him. "Now Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servant may speak Thy Word with all confidence."
I want you to see here, the early church understood the principle of prayer and they were getting results from their prayer times. In the Gospel of Mark, 11:24 we read, "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Church, do you have that same faith and belief today?
Where the rubber meets the road comes in the way of results. What was the results of their prayer time. I read this in the passage from Acts, but allow me to read verse 31 again for three things happen here. (READ).