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Summary: UNLEASHING GOD’S POWER IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH.

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THE POWER OF A PRAYING CHURCH

ACTS 12:1-10

I. INTRODUCTION

A PRAYING CHURCH IS A POWERFUL CHURCH, AND A POWERFUL CHURCH IS A PRODUCTIVE CHURCH, AND A PRODUCTIVE CHURCH IS A PROGRESSIVE CHURCH, AND A PROGRESSIVE CHURCH IS PREGNANT WITH UNLIMITED POTENTIAL. YES MY BROTHERS AND MY SISTERS, WE SHOULD STRIVE TO PATTERN OURSELVES AFTER THE CHURCHES OF THE FIRST CENTURY ERA, WHY BECAUSE IT WAS THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH THAT ADDED OVER 3,000 SOULS TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN ONE DAY. ALTHOUGH THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH MET WITH HEAVY OPPOSITION, THEY FOLLOWED THE MANDATES OF GOD AND SUBSEQUENTLY, GOD BLESSED THEM.

A CHURCH THAT DOES NOT PRAY FORFEITS THE BLESSINGS AND POWER OF ALMIGHTY GOD. A POWERLESS CHURCH DOES NOTHING TO PLEASE OR TO GLORIFY GOD. THEREFORE, GOD IS NOT PLEASED WHEN HIS SAINTS FAIL TO COLLECTIVELY PRAY.

IF WE ENDEAVOR TO SEE THIS CHURCH SOAR TO HIGHER HEIGHTS, WE MUST BECOME A PRAYING CHURCH. IF WE WANT TO SEE LIVES CHANGED AND SOULS SAVED, WE MUST BECOME A PRAYING CHURCH. IF WE WANT TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE WORLD, WE MUST BECOME A PRAYING CHURCH. YES MY BROTHERS AND MY SISTERS, THERE IS REAL POWER IN A PRAYING CHURCH.

II. THE TEXT

AS THE CANOPY OF THIS TEXT IS LIFTED, WE SEE THAT HEROD AGRIPPA THE FIRST, THE GRANDSON OF HEROD THE GREAT, AND SON OF ARISTOBULOUS, HAD VEXED THE CHURCH AND KILLED JAMES THE BROTHER OF JOHN WITH THE SWORD. AND WHEN HE SAW THAT IT PLEASED THE JEWS, HE STRETCHED FORTH HIS HAND AGAINST PETER, THE LEADER OF THE CHURCH. MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THERE ARE THOSE WHO DO NOT WANT TO SEE THE CHURCH PROGRESS, AND WILL DO WHATEVER THEY CAN TO HINDER THE AGENDA OF THE CHURCH. THAT’S WHY IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE CHURCH STAYS IN CONSTANT PRAYER.

PETER IS ARRESTED AND INCARCERATED. HEROD CONJECTURED THAT IF HE KILLED THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH, THE BODY WOULD SOON PERISH. AND DON’T YOU KNOW THAT THAT MENTALITY STILL EXISTS TODAY? BUT UNKNOWN TO HEROD THAT GOD HAD OTHER PLANS. I LIKE A GOD THAT CAN TURN DEAD ENDS INTO DETOURS; WHO CAN TAKE WHAT LOOKS LIKE THE END OF THE ROAD AND TURN IT INTO A BEND IN THE ROAD. GOD IS BIGGER THAN OUR PRISONS, JAIL CELLS, AND OUR CHAINS.

HEROD ORDERED SIXTEEN GUARDS TO WATCH PETER. THE TEXT SAYS THAT WHILE PETER WAS SLEEP IN PRISON, THE CHURCH COLLECTIVELY HELD A PRAYER MEETING, PRAYING TO GOD ON PETER’S BEHALF. MY BROTHERS AND MY SISTERS, YOU OUGHT TO PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR. THEY PRAYED INTENSELY, EARNESTLY, AND WITHOUT CEASING. IT’S FINE TO PRAY AT HOME, BUT EVERY NOW AND THEN WE OUGHT TO ASSEMBLE OURSELVES TOGETHER AS A COLLECTIVE BODY AND OFFER PRAYER TO GOD. WHERE THERE IS MUCH PRAYER, THERE IS MUCH POWER.

THE CHURCH PRAYED, AND THEY KEPT ON PRAYING UNTIL GOD DISPATCHED AN ANGEL FROM THE CELESSTIAL SHORES OF SHIKINAH GLORY TO RESCUE PETER. IN OTHER WORDS, WHILE THEY WERE TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT, GOD WAS ALREADY WORKING IT OUT. GOD WORKS THE NIGHT SHIFT, IN FACT, GOD WORKS ALL SHIFTS BECAUSE PSALMS 121:4, "BEHOLD, HE THAT KEEPETH ISRAEL SHALL NEITHER SLUMBER NOR SLEEP."

HEROD PLOTTED HIS DEATH, BUT GOD PLOTTED HIS DELIVERANCE. HEROD MADE HIM A CAPTIVE, BUT GOD MADE HIM A CONQUEROR. HEROD HELD HIM IN PRISON, BUT GOD SENT HIM TO THE PRAYER MEETING. THAT LET’S ME KNOW THAT JAMES 5:16 IS TRUE IN TEACHING, "THE EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN AVAILETH MUCH."

III. ANATOMY OF A PRAYING CHURCH

AS WE EXAMINE THIS NARRATIVE, WE ARE EXPOSED TO THE ANATOMY OF A PRAYING CHURCH. FIRST, THE CHURCH CAME TOGETHER WITH ONE PURPOSE AND ON ONE ACCORD, PRAYER. THEY WERE NOT THERE TO HAVE A BUSINESS MEETING, BUT TO PRAY. THEY WERE NOT THERE DISCUSSING WHO WOULD BE PRESIDENT OF THIS OR THAT, BUT THEY PRAYED. SECOND, THE CHURCH WAS PARALYZED IN THEIR POSITION, BUT NOT THEIR DISPOSITION. IN OTHER WORDS THEY WERE HELPLESS PHYSICALLY, BUT NOT SPIRITUALLY. THE BIBLE TEACHES IN ISAIAH 54:17, "NO WEAPON THAT IS FORMED AGAINST THEE SHALL PROSPER." ROMANS 8:31 TEACHES, "IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?" THIRD, THEY WERE PERSISTENT AND THEY PRAYED FOR RESULTS.

MY BROTHERS AND SISTER, WE MUST CONTINUE IN PRAYER, AND WHEN WE PRAY, WE MUST EXPECT GOD TO ANSWER OUR PRAYER. THE STORY IS TOLD OF AN OLD COUNTRY CHURCH IN THE RED HILLS OF ALABAMA, WHERE IT WAS 100 DEGREES IN THE SHADE. THE RAIN HAD NOT FALLEN FOR SOME TIME. THE PASTOR OF A LOCAL CHURCH CALLED THE MEMBERS TOGETHER STATING THAT THEY WERE GOING TO MEET AT THE CHURCH THE NEXT DAY FOR A SPECIAL PRAYER MEETING TO PRAY FOR RAIN. THE NEXT DAY THEY ASSEMBLED TOGETHER, BUT NOTICED THAT SISTER JOHNSON HAD NOT ARRIVED. THEY LOOKED DOWN THE STREET AND SAW A PERSON WEAR A RAINCOAT AND BOOTS, CARRYING AN UMBRELLA. THEY NOTICE THAT IT WAS SISTER JOHNSON. WHEN SHE REACHED THE CHURCH, THEY ASKED HER WHY WAS SHE WEARING SUCH CLOTHING, TO WHICH SHE RESPONDED, IF WE ARE GOING TO PRAY FOR RAIN, WE SHOULD AT LEAST DRESS FOR RAIN.

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