Summary: The New Testament church was a powerful church because it was a praying church.

A Praying Church—Part 3

Acts 6:1-7

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

Introduction: Tonight we are continuing our examination of the prayer life of the New Testament church. Remember: restoring New Testament Christianity is one of our top values as a congregation. We believe that every congregation, including this one, would be more like what God intends his church to be if we did a better job of patterning ourselves after the church of the first Christians. This doesn’t mean we mimic everything they did—but we believe the Apostles, Jesus original disciples, knew the teachings, practices, and values that Christ intended. Many of the problems and divisions of the last nineteen centuries come from the church abandoning or changing that New Testament pattern.

One of the most important parts of that pattern is a radical emphasis on prayer. Someone has said the difference between the early church and its later counterpart is that when the New Testament church leaders gathered they talked of their powers; when modern leaders meet they talk of their problems. I personally don’t believe that the secret of the early church was so much special miraculous powers (though they did have that to some degree); their power was their faith in a God who was really involved in their world and their lives and was always just a prayer away.

Far too often we are like the old Welsh woman who lived in a remote coal-mining valley of Wales. She went to a great deal of trouble to have electrical power installed in her home. But the officials at the power company noticed that she didn’t use very much electricity at all. In fact, her usage was minimal. They sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. The man came to the door and said, “We’ve looked at the amount on your bill. We’ve checked your meter. It seems to be working. Don’t you use the electricity?”

“Oh, of course, I use the electricity,” she said, “We turn it on every night to see how to light our lamps then we switch it off again!”

So with many a church, we approach prayer as a switch to begin our meetings at which we act and talk as if the opening prayer had little to do with the normal affairs of our business. Prayer must not be a perfunctory ritual that leads to business as usual. A New Testament church must live and work as if everything depends on God’s resources. Because it does!

Little Suzie was praying. She concluded, Dear God: Before I finish, I want you to take care of mommy, taker care of daddy, take care of my sister and my brother. And please, God, take care of yourself, because if you don’t we’re all sunk. Amen!

In the midst of the Protestant Reformation when Luther’s conflict with the Roman church was at its height, a papal envoy asked him, “When all of these supposed followers desert you where will you be then. His answer, “then as now, in the hands of God.”

That must be our conviction. Our greatest resource is not whatever measure of wealth we may have, not our talent, not our knowledge or ability, but one thing and one thing only—the faithfulness and availability of our God—the God who answers prayer and supplies our every need.

Tonight I want you to consider one specific area of New Testament church life and its connection to prayer—the relationship of prayer to leaders and their roles. Consider three passages of scripture: Acts 6, Acts 13, and Acts 14. We will note a number of lessons in the process, but our main attention will be devoted to subject of prayer.

I. (Acts 6:1-7 NIV) In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. {2} So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. {3} Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them {4} and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." {5} This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. {6} They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. {7} So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

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