Summary: The potentialities of a praying church are clearly outlined in Acts 4: 23-33.
The Key to Victory in the Church
23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "’Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.
28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
Shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John went up to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray. On their way, the lame man, who was lying at the gate called “Beautiful,” asked for alms from the apostles. Peter’s classic response was, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (3:6)
Peter took him by the hand, lifted him up, and the man began leaping and praising God. It caused quite a stir and a large crowd gathered around to witness the miracle which had taken place. Peter took advantage of the occasion and preached to the people. And about 5,000 men believed in Christ (4:4).
While Peter was preaching, the rulers of the synagogue came and arrested him and John, and held them overnight. The next morning the apostles were brought before the council to defend their action. Peter answered the charges and explained that the lame man was healed through the power of Christ. The council decided privately to threaten the apostles, forbid them to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Peter’s response: He told the council that they could decide for themselves whether it would be better to listen to God or to the rulers, but he and John intended to continue to witness to what they had seen and heard, especially the Resurrection.
When the apostles were dismissed, they returned to their friends and fellow believers. That brings us to the scripture passage in Act 4 that was just read.
When you read through the Book of Acts you begin to understand that the New Testament Church went from one crisis to another—but always victoriously so ! What was the key? How did they do it? Well, I believe the answer was PRAYER! The church in the Book of Acts was a praying church. Verses 24 through verse 30 contain the record of the church’s prayer on this occasion. The remainder of the chapter cites the results that the church experienced. From these verses we can expect a praying church to experience certain things.
1. Answered Prayer
A praying church may expect God to give conclusive evidence that He has heard and answered it’s prayers. In verse 30 the church prayed that signs and wonders might be done by the name of Jesus, and God responded by “shaking” the place where they were assembled (31).
Illus.: “Answered Prayer—With Cattle” (Hewett, p.419)
Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 1924, it almost came to the point of bankruptcy. All the creditors were going to foreclose at noon on a particular day. That morning they met in the president’s office for prayer that God would provide. In that prayer meeting was a man by the name of Harry Ironside. When it was his turn to pray, he said, “Lord, we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money.” While they were praying a tall Texan stepped up to the business office and said, “I just sold two carloads of cattle in Ft. Worth. I’ve been trying to make a business deal but it fell through and I feel compelled to give the money to the seminary. I don’t know if you need it or not, but here’s the check!” The secretary took the check and knowing how critical things were financially, went to the door of the prayer meeting and timidly tapped. When she finally got a response, the president took the check out of her hand. It was exactly the amount of the debt! When he looked at the name, he recognized the cattleman and turning to Dr. Ironside said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!”