Summary: The necessity of prayer
Moving ahead on a foundation of prayer
Moving Ahead Together, Part 6
October 10, 2004
NIV Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
You have heard me say that there is no such thing in the Christian life as maintenance only movement - forward or backward. There is no way getting around that reality. It follows that as a church or a community of faith we are not created for maintenance either, we are created for movement. That means change for many of us. Change in our habits and patterns of life. I am going to ask all of us to look at our prayer life today and make changes. The Holy Spirit will begin speaking to men and women about their need to change their prayer life. The Holy Spirit is going to move upon the young people and put a burden of prayer on them. This movement of the Spirit will look different for each one of us. For some, it will mean to start to pray on behalf of our church, for others it will mean to start coming to pre-service prayer, still others it will mean coming a noontime prayer meeting. If we are going to move ahead, it is because God first moved in our hearts to pray. As we pray, he will move. If we will pray God will work; if we don’t we will work.
Let’s read the text together.
I Must Give myself to Prayer
My point today is simple - we must give ourselves to prayer. If you want God to move in your life, pray. If you want God to move in our church, pray. If you want God, pray. If you wonder what God’s will is for you, here it is – be devoted to prayer. The word devoted is used ten times in the NT; six are related to prayer:
ESV Acts 1:14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
ESV Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
ESV Acts 6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
ESV Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
NIV Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
NIV Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
What does it mean to be devoted to prayer? If it means anything else it means to be regular and often in prayer. It means to have a lifestyle that prayer is an integral part of your life. When I say that he is a devoted father or she is a devoted student what do we mean? Let’s look at Rom 13:6 to get a better idea what the word means. NIV Romans 13:6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. The government is appointed by God for a task and they are devoted to that task or they give themselves to it. So what is normal for Christians is a life devoted to prayer. It is not limited to prayer but it is devoted to prayer. Is your life devoted to prayer? To say that someone is devoted to their family does not mean that family is all they have but it does mean that their life, their habits, their attitudes, etc gives evidence to a life devoted to their family. It does mean that it affects your life and that you give yourself to that in many different ways. What does prayer life look like to someone who is devoted to prayer? It is not the same for everyone but it will be significant. God knows if your life is devoted to prayer and he will hold you and me accountable to this command. Do you have a pattern or way of life that someone looking at you can describe it as devoted to prayer? It is not praying at mealtime, in the midst of a crisis, praying before an exam, or praying with your kids at bedtime. It will include that but that is not what the New Testament means by being devoted to prayer. If you are not devoted to prayer you need to do something about it, do not leave here today without a plan to be devoted to prayer – it would be foolish and dangerous. Why does the New Testament command us to be devoted?