Summary: In this series, we will look at what the early church did when they gathered together and why it is important for us to never give up meeting together.
I. When the church gathered together devoting themselves to these four elements, they were filled with awe. They saw the power of God in signs and wonders. They became extremely generous and kind. And the church grew exponentially.
II. They devoted themselves to prayer. Why do we need to gather together for prayer. We can pray on our own. This is the issue with many people. They do not see the importance of gathering together. Let's look at how gathering together can change our prayer life.
III. James 5:13-15 teaches us that a prayer of faith when someone is sick will bring healing or forgiveness. It is not the prayer, but a prayer of faith. There is a faithless prayer in the church. There is an impotent prayer in the church. There is prayer void of the supernatural power of God. The key is faith. Jesus once asked if He would find faith when He returned. When Jesus returns, He will find the church. He will find lots of religious activity, but will He find faith?
IV. James 5:16 teaches us that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. These words are also translated into the word 'fervent.' Fervency is intense passion. This passage is teaching us that our prayer is more effective when we are living a righteous life and when we pray with passion. Jesus prayed with passion. In Hebrews 5:7, Jesus prayed with loud cries and tears. We might wonder why the Son of God, who is God would need to pray to the Father with such passion. It might seem He could simply ask and the Father would answer, but Jesus sets an example for us to be fervent in our prayer. Elijah cried out to God with fervency and a boy was brought back from the dead. Blind Bartimaeus was rebuked for crying out to Jesus so he cried out all the more and Jesus healed his blindness. Our prayers need to be fervent.
V. Fervency in prayer is not necessarily an outward expression. It is not praying loudly for the sake of hearing oneself. Fervency is the natural result of caring a great deal about a situation and knowing God is the only hope of change, healing, wisdom, or deliverance.
VI. Fervency reflects a soul who has lost all hope in anything or anyone but God alone. Sometimes when we pray for something, we do it out of religious habit. We pray because we know we should pray, but somewhere in the back of our mind, we are still thinking of what we can do or what doctors can do or what someone can do. The reality is that we still have hope in something or someone besides God.
VII. Another reason we may not be fervent is because we believe God owes it to us to answer our prayer so we are taking Him for granted. We must understand that God owes us nothing, but desires to do all things because He is a good Father, but He cannot reward hope or faith in other things. He can not reward idolatry.
VIII. God will wait to answer prayer to help us come to the place where we see Him as the only hope. Even if this means He is going to use medicine, doctors, or other people, He will tarry to help us come to the place of fervency. We desperately want and need something to happen, but we need to be moved from a religious prayer to a passionate prayer. This is where gathering together comes in.
IX. When we gather together, we get to know one another. We build friendships. We love one another. And we care for one another. So that when one of us hurts, it creates passion because we are truly connected. Recently, a church member was diagnosed with covid and had to go into the hospital. As I prayed for him, I became passionate and wept. It is because I know him. He is my friend. I love him and his family. But I know that my passionate prayer was not going to be as passionate as his wife's prayer could be because she is more connected to him than I. Gathering together helps us build relationships that matter so that we are passionate for one another's well-being. But gathering together being devoted to the teaching of the Word means not only are we connected to one another, but we are being reminded by one another that God is the only hope, that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
X. When we get out of the habit of meeting together, it is easier to let the fact that God is the Provider of anything and everything good in our life. It is easier to depend upon our own ability, our own money, our own skill, our own personality or charisma. When we are not gathering together, we are less connected. When we are not gathering together, we see less passion in prayer. And when we are not surrounded by passionate prayer, our prayers are less passionate. But when we come together, passionate prayer helps us connect and pray with more passion. We must never give up meeting together.