Summary: A sermon on prayer from the book of Acts (Much material taken from Jerry Paul's sermon called "Restore New Testament Prayer" http://www.thecra.org/avitems.htm under 2006 Symposium)
Daniel Henderson- In our culture of rugged individualism we have come to the conclusion that it is better to pray alone than with others. Unfortunately, most of us never learn to do either one very well. Like most disciplines of the Christian faith, we learn best to pray alone when we have been taught in community.
We are part of the Restoration Movement. Trying to restore the church back to the ideals found in the NT. Some say that we have restored the church back to primitive Christianity.
We accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God. Based upon that we attempt to preach the Bible simply without alteration or explaining it away. We preach and teach the plan of salvation as proclaimed in the NT with baptism- Acts 2:42- Apostles’ doctrine
We practice the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day as following NT example. Acts 2:42
We are committed to the fellowship of the Lord’s church. Acts 2:42. Talk about few Sundays
Just a brief glance in Acts 2 we find two things that are lacking, needing restoration:
Vs. 45- Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Vs. 47- And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Oh, yes, and one other thing that might be lacking and that is prayer. Acts 2:42.
When we look in the book of Acts we find a emphasis upon prayer.
How can we restore prayer to its rightful place in the church and in our lives?
Thesis: Let’s restore prayer as found in the book of Acts
Let’s restore the practice of prayer in the early church
In Acts Christians prayed privately, in small groups, and in larger groups maybe even involving the whole church.
We find Peter praying privately in Acts 10:9: Peter went up on the roof to pray. In answer to both Cornelius and Peter’s prayers the two are brought together where Peter preaches and the first full blooded Gentiles are converted to the Christian faith.
We find Paul praying privately. As Saul he is praying privately for 3 days before the coming of Ananias who leads him to the Christian faith. When he became a Christian, we find in Acts 22:17: When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple. private prayer.
We find in Acts 6 that the apostles want to give the waiting of tables to the deacons and they give this reason in vs. 4: will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.
2. Small groups
talking about private prayer but these are words of Jesus. Matthew 18:19-20: Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.
In Acts we find Peter and Paul praying over the sick. James 5
Paul and Silas in the jail in Philippi. Acts 16:25: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.
3. Larger groups
From the 1st chapter of Acts we see that one of the reasons for the success of the early church was the fact that it was a praying church. Actually the church began with a 10 day prayer meeting. Acts 1:14: They all joined together constantly in prayer
When Peter was expecting to be executed in Acts 12 we find in vs. 5: the church was earnestly praying to God for him. vs. 12: the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
Acts 13:3: after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off
Acts 14:23: Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Acts 20:36: When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. (By the way, our elders pray every morning before Sunday school)
So important was prayer in the life of the church that Acts 2:42 includes it as one of the 4 primary identifying traits. Can that be said of today’s church? How many churches can we name in which prayer is clearly one of their 4 identifying traits?
In 2005 Barna Reports said this, “Prayer is one of 3 critical spiritual dimensions which most local churches essentially ignore. Prayer is said to be one of the top priorities in less than 4% of the churches surveyed.”
This was many years ago but Martyn Lloyd Jones reported that one minister was fired from a church and one of the reasons given was that the minister insisted on having a prayer meeting and a Bible study on a weeknight. “This man only had a prayer meeting one night a week, and because he was determined to hold on to it, they asked him to resign.”