Summary: The Church In Prayer. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: email@example.com)
Following Jesus requires action! We see that action in two ways:
• The context is evangelism (sharing our faith with others);
• Last week you probably noted that
• Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin (Jewish court);
• Their crime verse 2 tells us was: “Teaching and preaching about the risen Christ”.
• And they are ordered to be silent.
• Their crime was telling other people about Jesus!
• And in verse 31 at the end of today’s passage, we read:
• “Filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God boldly!
• Worth noting that throughout the book of Acts when anyone was filled with the Spirit;
• It lead to them evangelising (telling others about Jesus)
• Ill: Have you ever had a picnic or B-B-Q and watched;
• A black ant crawl up a table leg until it reached some spilled sugar.
• It seemed to eat, then crawled back down the table leg.
• Soon the two black ants crawled up the table leg to the sugar.
• They ate and left. Soon a steady steam of black ants;
• Moved up and down the table leg to enjoy the sugar.
• Point being that they must have some system by which they communicate,
• 'I have found something good and I want to share it!'
NOW WE PICK UP THE STORY IN VERSE 24:
• Then Sanhedrin decides to releases them.
• And they immediately go back to the other Christians and start to pray.
• In one region of Africa,
• The first converts to Christianity were very diligent about praying.
• In fact, the believers each had their own special place;
• Outside the village where they went to pray in solitude.
• The villagers reached these “prayer rooms”
• By using their own private footpaths through the brush.
• When grass began to grow over one of these trails,
• It was evident that the person to whom it belonged was not praying very much.
• Because these new Christians were concerned for each other’s spiritual welfare,
• A unique custom sprang up.
• When ever anyone noticed an overgrown “Prayer path,”
• He or she would go to the person and lovingly warn, “Friend, there’s grass on your path!”
Question: Do you find it easy to pray?
Answer: If the answer is no, then you are in good company!
• The wartime theologian and writer Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example,
• Once admitted that his prayer experience was; “Something to be ashamed of”.
• The Great reformer, Martin Luther, anguished in prayer,
• Saving three of the best hours of the day to pray; yet he seldom seemed satisfied.
Go down through the list of Christian greats, we find one after another working hard at prayer,
• But frequently you will find they were dissatisfied,
• Some of them even woefully unhappy about their prayer life.
• E. M. Bounds, Alexander Maclaren, Samuel Rutherford, Hudson Taylor,
• John Henry Jowett, G. Campbell Morgan, Joseph Parker, Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
• F. B. Meyer, A. W. Tozer, H. A. Ironside, Billy Graham,
• Great men, strong Christian examples,
• Magnificent role models,
• Yet you can hardly find one of that number who was satisfied with his prayer life.
• Oh, they laboured in prayer, they believed in prayer, they taught and preached prayer;
• But they were all strugglers, who had to work hard at it!
• So if you struggle when it comes to prayer;
• Then you are in good company!
We have recorded in these verses some insights to help us pray better:
(1). They Prayed primarily (verse 23)
Notice: What it says in verse 23: "On their release."
• Peter & John were so thankful for being delivered from the Sanhedrin.
• That they immediately went back and reported what had happened to the others.
• And after they had told them what had happened,
• An impromptu prayer meeting was held to give praise and thanks to God.
The early Christians prayed.
• Almost every thing in the book of Acts begins and ends with prayer.
• In fact 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.
• Surprised to see an empty seat at yesterdays Cup Final;
• A diehard fan remarked about it to a woman sitting nearby.
• The woman then explained; “It was my husband’s, but he died.”
• “I’m very sorry,” said the man.
• “Yet I’m really surprised that another relative, or friend,
• Didn’t jump at the chance to take the seat reserved for him.”
• “Beats me too,” she said.
• “But they all insisted on going to the funeral.”