Summary: When do we normally pray? Verses When should we pray? Examined using contemporary language, practical points of application and an easy to ’Power Point’ outline.
"The Church in Prayer" Acts 4:23-31
Pastor Bob Hunter
Intro: Describe how the Apostles got to a place of prayer. Review the story that immediately preceedes it, ( i.e. The healing of lame beggar, discuss the trouble it stirred up and the events that followed.) Describe Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (the men in the 3 piece suits). They are ordered to be silent (they scheme to disobey). The Sanhedrin releases them. They immediately go back to camp and pray. Verse 24
I. The early believers prayed.
They prayed before the spirit was given (5 days). They prayed and gave thanks after the Spirit was given. Every thing in the book of ACTS begins and ends with prayer. The phrase "they prayed" appears 48 times in the book of ACTS. The early believers recognized prayer as fundamental. Everything they did was bathed in prayer. Prayer is a response to God and what He is doing among us.
Transitional statement: Now what about us? Are we like the early believers? Are we that committed to prayer? Wow! This is pretty heavy isn’t it? What I would like us to do is review the occasions when we are most likely to pray. We’re going to do a little comparison here today. When is it that we normally pray?
II. When do we normally pray?
A. When it’s convenient.
We tend to pray when conditions are right. When we have time to pray. So long as nothing else interferes, (phone calls, visitors, work, play) We tend to pray most often when it’s convenient to do so, so long as it doesn’t interfere greatly with our personal agendas.
B. When we’re feeling guilty.
Sometimes were driven to prayer, simply because we feel guilty about not doing it. Or maybe we’ve hearing the Pastor teach on the subject and we feel unspiritual. So we force ourselves into a posture of prayer and play catch up because we’re so far behind. In other words, we try to pray real, real hard to make up for all the times that we haven’t prayed. We do this so we can walk away with a clear conscience know that we’ve paid our dues.
C. When there’s trouble.
This isn’t especially a bad thing. It’s just happens to be a reality. When there’s trouble brewing and we don’t have anywhere else to turn, we tend to get serious about prayer. I think back to post Sept. 11th and how many people were driven to their knees because of what happened. And that’s not especially a bad thing. But maybe that’s where we should have been along. Instead of praying ‘only’ when we’re trouble, maybe we need make some adjustments and pray before we get into trouble, before it’s a last resort.
Transitional statement: So these are the times in which we normally pray.(restate each). But let me ask you this, when should we be praying? What is a more normal & biblical pattern of prayer? Obviously, a more normal and predictable model of prayer is set forth in the book of Acts. We catch a glimpse of it, in Ch. 2 and again in Ch. 4.. The early believers established a solid and consistent pattern of prayer. So let’s take a look at theirs and compare it to our own., and consider the times in which we should be in prayer. So the question is when should we pray?
III. When should we pray?
A. When we see God moving.
The early believers we’re immediately thankful for being delivered from the immediate shut down of the Sanhedrin. They went back and reported what had happened to others. And after they reported what happened, an impromtu prayer meeting was held to give praise and thanks to God. Notice what it says in verse 23,24 "upon being released." You see, they had just been released from bondage. The religious authorities let them go. All they got from the men in the 3 piece suits was a slap on the hand. It could have been a lot worse! So we should pray when we see God moving and acting on our behalf. Prayer is a response to the mighty acts of God. To God’s activity among us; to what He is doing on our behalf. We should automatically pray, when we see God in action. And give him thanks for it. (Illustrate by telling the story of a new believer that has recently found Christ, prompt the body to pray on his or her behalf).
B. When we hear God speaking.
God’s Word to us prompts us to pray. In Acts
Ch.4, God was clearly speaking into their situation. Verse 25 cites words spoken by King David in the O.T. about what was happening. "quote verse" What God said centuries before through Holy Spirit in Ps. 2 was unfolding right before their eyes. The nations and people were plotting in vain against the Lord and against His annointed. Hearing God’s Word spoken in a new and fresh way energized their prayer life. So as they were praying, they repeated the Lord’s word spoken long ago through King David. They were hearing it all over again in a new and fresh way and it prompted them to stay in prayer.