Summary: Four examples of prayer from the early church.
Intro: A bus driver and a minister were standing in line to get into heaven. The bus driver approached the gate and St. Peter said, "Welcome, I understand you were a bus driver. Since I’m in charge of housing, I believe I have found the perfect place for you. See that mansion over the hilltop? It’s yours.
The minister heard all this and began to stand a little taller. He said to himself, "If a bus driver got a place like that, just think what I’ll get."
The minister approached the gate and St. Peter said, "Welcome, I understand you were a minister. See that shack in the valley?"
St. Peter had hardly gotten the words out of his mouth when the shocked minister said, "I was a minister, I preached the gospel, I helped teach people about God. Why does that bus driver get a mansion, and I get a shack?"
Sadly St. Peter responded, "Well, it seems when you preached, people slept. When the bus driver drove, people prayed."
The pagans of Jesus’ day were known for babbling on and on with the understanding that the more words that were involved in prayer the more effective the prayer.
7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Jesus instructed that prayer was to be an intimate conversation between two parties that deeply cared about each other.
6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
When you get a card from a in the mail what matters the most to you? The professional poem written by a professional, or the hand scribbled note at the bottom written by your friend? For most of us it’s not the professional poem it’s the hand written note at the bottom because it’s an intimate expression from someone who cares about us.
Prayer is not to be a formal ritualistic activity of repeating the same words over and over until we don’t even think about the meaning. It is to be a genuine expression of the soul. A personal conversation with the heavenly Father.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Now there are times we as Christians should be praying in solitude and as a family but what I want to talk to you today about is those times we ought to be praying together as a church. Maybe it’s praying here in the assembly or in small groups.
Let’s look at four examples of prayer in the early church as we look at how they are recorded in the book of Acts. In each instance lets notice which request was made of God, and how specifically the Lord answered the prayer. Hopefully this will motivate us in our prayer life to more frequent, more meaningful, more intense prayer as a church.
The first instance I want us to look at is recorded in Acts chapter one and chapter two. After Jesus’ ascension He gave the disciples instructions to go to Jerusalem and stay in the city until they received the power of the Holy Spirit.
49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
So in Acts chapter one we find the disciples in the upper room in constant prayer praying for the “power from on high” that Jesus spoke of. This is the prayer and we find the answer in chapter two.
2:1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
7Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
As a church we need to be praying that God will continue to anoint our ministry with the power of the Holy Spirit. What has happened here in the last year can’t be reduced to a human formula. It’s just that God has chosen to pour out His Holy Spirit on us.
There always seems to be two major qualifiers for the anointing of God’s Spirit.