Summary: A Message on the power of praying together.
Sermon for CATM - June 7, 2015 – Pray Together
Over the last number of weeks we’ve been looking at some very intense moments in the life of the early church, when the Holy Spirit moved powerfully and the number of people who believed in and received Jesus was in the thousands.
Often when God moves to do a new thing, there are some serious fireworks at the outset. Even if they take a while to notice, even if they’re pretty humble and only mean something to you.
I recall within a month of becoming a Christ-follower, a Christian, after having been raised an atheist all my life, that I was walking one day to school.
In the middle of the intersection at Coxwell and Danforth a complete stranger walking the opposite direction comes up to me and says: “Hey, so you’re a Christian?” I mumbled something like; “Ah...yes...how did...?
The light changed and the fellow moved on. I scratched my head and eventually, realizing that it was an encouragement from God, gave thanks to God for it. About two years after I became a Christian it dawned on me that nearly all of my prayers had been answered in the affirmative in those 2 years.
It evoked a sense of wonder in me. Shortly after that the answers to my prayers became, as they normally are: Yes, No or not yet.
Maybe a 6 months to a year after I came to Christ, I was in one of the music practice rooms at school, honking noisily on a tenor sax. I had the usual beginner confidence level of zero, which accurately reflected my abilities at that point.
In one of the few times that I’ve heard God’s voice directly, God spoke to me very clearly and said "Be faithful and music and I will be faithful to you".
That both terrified me, and then when I got over it motivated me, powerfully to invest my time and energy in music, for what reason I did not know.
In hindsight, it was the catalyst to me coming to The Yonge Street Mission and becoming a pastor here.
The Christ-Followers in this room have their own stories of God moving in ways that have lifted their hearts; stories of healings, stories of words of encouragement coming at just the right time.
Sometimes it’s fireworks, sometimes it’s intensely personal and meaningful only to you. But you just know it’s God. You just know it is God.
And for the early church, not yet particularly organized, still quite vulnerable, still facing opposition from many, God moved powerfully.
Over the last 2 weeks we’ve looked in some depth at Acts chapters 3 and 4, up to today’s Scripture reading. It began with the miracle of the disabled beggar begin healed through Peter and John, and that led to a trial of sorts in front of the ruling religious elite.
After being commanded to stop speaking and acting in Jesus’ name, their response to the judges was this: “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:18
And with the very awkward reality of the man born lame and now completely healed standing right in front of the ‘judges’, the worst they could do was tell Peter and John to, again, stop preaching in Jesus’ name.
Now today’s Scripture: 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.
After this remarkable event, a real high, Peter and John went back to their own people, the church. They knew their home, the church. They were accountable to the church.
When the church heard this, all, along with Peter and John, prayed to God. The celebrated this victory by seeing it not as an event unconnected to everything else God had done.
This was their collective prayer, likely a combination of Peter, John and many others, put into a single prayer for our benefit.
Imagine us, after a major event, gathering to pray, and someone recording what we prayed. This prayer is just like that.
I’m not sure any of US would love to have their prayers looked at with a microscope, but that’s what we’re going to do today to this prayer of the early church.
And this prayer is an excellent model for us, it helps us to align ourselves with the things that should truly matter to a gospel-focussed people and a gospel-focussed church.
“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. Why did they begin their prayer this way?