Summary: In order to become the unified church that builds something together, we need to pray and rely on the power and strength of God the Holy Spirit.
A Prayer for Power Under Pressure
Text: Acts 4:23-31
Good morning! This morning, we’re going to be looking at one of the greatest recorded prayers in the bible. There are many great prayers in the Scriptures, but what sets this one as unique is that it is prayed by a church that is one body, united in Christ, called to some higher purpose outside of themselves and yet in need of God to propel them forward.
For the past month, we’ve been looking at the identity, calling and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ and we’ve been gearing ourselves up to build something wonderful together that would bring glory and honor to God. LET’S NOT MERELY BE THE CHURCH UNITED, LET’S BECOME A GREAT CHURCH THAT DOES A POWERFUL WORK OF GOD IN THIS LAND AND REGION OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
But in order to move forward, we’re going to need help. We’re going to need God to lead us and empower us and launch us out. This is what this prayer is all about. And so turn in your bibles to the book of Acts 4:23-31...(Read the text and then open in prayer)
Verse 23 – The Release of Peter and John
• Peter and John were jailed because they were teaching and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:2)
This preaching of the gospel arose because of the miracle of the healing of the crippled beggar back in chapter 3. Peter and John, filled and empowered by Holy Spirit, proclaimed that it was the risen Jesus who was responsible for the man’s healing.
And upon hearing the proclamation of the risen Jesus, this disturbed the elders and chief priests so much that they decided to put them in jail. And before releasing them, they warned them and threatened them not to speak anymore about this Jesus and the resurrection.
• Verse 23 tells us that after being released, Peter and John went back to their own people
This doesn’t refer to their natural family or clan, but to the new family established by the Holy Spirit which is called the church.
o There’s something nice about this statement – it speaks of a safe home or community which is the church of Jesus Christ. A lot of people these days are hungry for community...they are lonely...and since many of these people are spiritual or religious, they seek community with their neighbors or with joining a country club or elks lodge or in a bar...anywhere and anyone that they could find friends and be around people who are safe.
Peter and John had such a place to return to after their ordeal in jail – the church – their own people...
Verse 24 – The Church Turned to God in Prayer
• Beautiful picture of the early church coming together in unity to pray
The response of the people was unified – together, it says, they lifted up their voices together in prayer to God.
Although this may sound obvious, this gives those of us who don’t know what prayer is or assume it’s one thing a picture of what the early church did when they prayed...
o They raised their voices... Here we see that they lifted up their prayers or raised their prayers up to God as if lifting up a physical item up to God. The word for ‘raised’ is an actual word meaning lifting up or elevating or taking from a lower vertical plane to a higher vertical plane...
The text also mentions that they lifted their voices.
o Together... the people prayed together. Of course, we can pray when we are alone and hopefully all of us pray on a regular basis alone with the Lord. But here we see that they prayed together. There’s something special when Christians come together and pray to the Lord together...
COME AND JOIN US WHEN WE PRAY TOGETHER!
o To God... and a final mention here – the people lifted up their voices together in prayer to God. They didn’t pray to the stars or to the spirits out there or they didn’t mumble ludicrous words to themselves...they directed their prayers to God.
THE ACTUAL PRAYER...
• “SOVEREIGN LORD...” The first thing they establish in their prayers to God is that he is sovereign. Before any denomination was formed, but church polity or structure was formed, the early church held a common understanding of God – that he was sovereign.
The sovereignty of God means that he is God and he does as he pleases. God’s word and intentions are established and predetermined and God ordains all things to pass and occur and nothing thwarts his sovereign will.
o One of the laws we live with on this planet is the law of gravity. Jump off a house and you will fall down. Despite your dislike of gravity or how much you theorize that it doesn’t exist, the law of gravity doesn’t care or isn’t held captive to your opinion of it, it just is and you and I are subject to its dropping force.