Summary: Have you ever done a comparison between the way the apostles approached Christ in the Gospels and the way they approached Him in the book of Acts? In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, their requests included calling fire down from heaven to consume those who
Principle 1 for God-focused prayer:
Tune to God's agenda
Have you ever done a comparison between the way the apostles approached Christ in the Gospels and the way they approached Him in the book of Acts? In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, their requests included calling fire down from heaven to consume those who rejected Christ, sending people away hungry, and sitting on the right and left hand of the throne when they got to heaven. Their actions were also telling. They constantly demonstrated a lack of faith, prohibited children from coming to Christ, and tried stopped someone from casting out demons. On occasion they would get it right, but most of the time they were way off when it came to being in sync with Jesus and His mission. Consequently, our Lord rarely ever did what they asked, and indeed, on some occasions rebuked them.
But when you turn to the book of Acts, you find a completely different focus in their lives and in their asking. Acts records no account that they ever failed in their faith again. When God responded to their prayer on one occasion 3000 were converted in a single day, the place where they prayed was shaken, and on another occasion prison doors swung open. Obviously, some tremendous transformation, some radical change had occurred. What could have made such a huge difference?
Very simply, they went from being on their own agenda to being on God's agenda. They quit seeking place and position, a seat on Jesus' right and left. They stopped thinking about their own comfort and their own ideas about what constituted appropriate worship, and began focusing on serving our Lord. They began praying for boldness to testify, and stand strong in the face of persecution. They stopped playing around with the idea of returning to fishing, their comfort zone, instead they focused on shepherding the Lord’s sheep, they stopped getting hung up on their circumstances, and started seeking God’s power from on high to preach the Gospel. They changed from being self-centered to being God-centered.
In Acts 4:24-25, Peter and John were released from jail with threats of what would happen to them if they spoke in the name of Jesus again. They reported this to their friends who immediately, went to prayer:
24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.y “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.z 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:a
“ ‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.b’c b
Why are they praying these things, quoting Scripture back to God, why are they taking time remembering the history of God's purposes? They spend five verses telling God who He is and two verses asking Him for boldness. Why didn't they pray, "Thank you Lord for getting our friends out of this mess. And Lord we want to be honest and tell you we're scared. Please protect us"?