Summary: A sermon showing the pattern of prayer in the early church and that this pattern should be maintained in our lives, families, and church.
A HEALTHY CHURCH: ONE THAT PRAYS
INTRODUCTION... (from http://www.firstphx.org/sermons/habits03.htm)
Perhaps you heard the story of the woman who stepped forward after an accident preparing to help the victim. She was asked to step aside by a man who announced, “Step back, please! I’ve had a course in First Aid.” The woman did so and watched him work for a minute or so and then tapped him on the shoulder. “When you get to the part about calling a doctor, I’ll be right here.”
That reminds me of how we pray many times. We only call on God when we are in a crisis or when we need him. While that may be quite often, prayer should be a regular habit in our lives, not just the result of our circumstances. While God is happy to hear from us anytime, I am sure it would be refreshing to Him for us just to come and talk to Him because we love Him or because we want to thank Him for something He has done. Maybe it is just human nature only to pray when we have reached the end of our rope, but we need to grow beyond that in order to have a growing, healthy faith. We have to change that if we are going to be a healthy church.
One of the most important habits (if not the most important habit) of a healthy church is prayer. It should come as no surprise then that is exactly what we find in the early church in Acts.
I. THE PATTERN OF PRAYER IN THE EARLY CHURCH
A. Acts 4:23-31
1) Peter and John had been on trial for preaching about Jesus and had just been released. Peter
had healed a crippled man and they preached to those who saw the miracle. They were arrested
and questioned. Verse 23 picks up at their release.
2) Peter and John reported all of the events to their church family. The church raised their voices
in prayer and praise.
a. They praised God in prayer for who He is (verse 24)
b. They praised God in prayer for His provision for the faithful (verses 25-27)
c. They praised God in prayer for Jesus Christ (verses 28)
3) Peter and John reported all of the events to their church family. The church raised their voices
in prayer requests.
a. They asked for God to enable them to be bold in communicating their faith (verse 29)
b. They asked for God to continue to do healings to point people to Him (verse 30)
c. They asked for God to do miracles and signs to point people to Him (verse 30)
4) The prayers were heard and answered. The place where they were was shaken and they spoke
boldly about their faith. Their prayers were answered.
1) Chapter 12 in Acts opens with some distressing details. King Herod had many in the church killed
or arrested. The Apostle James was put to death. Herod also seized Peter and was going to make
a public spectacle of him and execute him (verses 12:1-4)
2) An angel comes to Peter and frees him for the prison cell and leads him outside. Peter knows that
God sent the angel and rescued him.
3) Peter returns to a house where some of the church are praying (verse 5). They were praying that
Peter would be released and that he would be safe.
a) The servant girl is so excited that it is him that she leaves him outside.
b) Verse 15 tells us that the people inside did not believe it was him. They thought it was
his guardian angel perhaps, this was a common Jewish belief that the Bible speaks nothing
about. Maybe they thought it was his spirit because he had already been killed. They did not
believe that their prayers were answered.
4) Yet, Peter stood before them as an answer to prayers and the believers there were astonished.
ILLUSTRATION... Prayer is the link by AB Simpson
Prayer is the link that connects us with God. It is the bridge that spans every gulf and bears us over every
abyss of danger or of need. How significant is this picture of the New Testament church: Peter in prison, the Jews triumphant, Herod supreme, the arena of martyrdom awaiting the dawning of the morning. “But prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
And what is the sequel? The prison open, the apostle free, the Jews baffled, the wicked king divinely smitten, and the Word of God rolling on in greater victory. Do we know the power of our supernatural weapon? Do we dare to use it with the authority of a faith that commands as well as asks? God grant us holy audacity and divine confidence. He is not wanting great men, but He is wanting men that will dare to prove the greatness of their God.