Summary: We need to be convinced of the NEED to pray, understand the POWER of prayer, seize the OPPORTUNITY to pray and have FAITH in God when we pray.
In the book of Acts, we see a common sight – the church at prayer.
• Not a few disciples, but the whole community of believers praying together
• This was a unique sight, because in the Gospel we hardly read of the disciples gathering to pray.
• We saw Jesus praying alone, most of the time. And even when they supposed to be praying together as a group – in the garden of Gethsemane, they were sleeping.
But now, in the book of Acts, they were praying.
• Not just a few of them, but most of the believers, gathering together to pray.
• They have come to understand the need to pray. When they pray, God acts.
• How does God do His work, and manifest His power? When believers gather and pray.
It reminds me of a story I read.
KEEP THE ENGINE RUNNING
In a seminary mission’s class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years.
Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine.
The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work.
Relying upon human strength is tiring and difficult.
• You can still get by the two years, getting something done.
• When we make firm our connection with God, His power flows.
• We tap onto His power through prayer. We see the necessity of prayer.
And that’s what we see here - we see the power of prayer –
Peter had been placed in the custody of 16 soldiers, 4 squads of 4 men each.
• Four shifts to take turns guarding him. The guards ought to be more alert than the prisoners.
• He was bound with chains to 2 soldiers, one on either side of him.
• The double guard on him around the clock was to make doubly sure that he would not escape.
And then verse 10 says there were the first and second guards, and an iron gate.
• No work of man can stop the work of God.
• Man’s attempts or even the devil’s attempts, are all futile when it comes against the will of God.
• Rom 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
And so the church gathers to pray. The situation was critical.
• King Herod had already killed one of the church leaders James.
• And verse 3 says, “When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.”
• He wanted to make them happy, so Peter was next.
• Just imagine - two of the church’s foremost leaders – one was dead, the other likely to be killed - at such an early stage of their ministry.
It was a critical moment, but they had a window of opportunity.
• There was still some time – because it was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Herod decided to deal with Peter after the Passover.
• The Feast lasted a week, so they might have about 7 days, more or less.
• This was their only chance they had to pray for God’s deliverance!
Brothers, we don’t always have the chance to pray.
• You see, in the case of James there was little or no time for prayer.
• James was hurriedly arrested and executed. He’s dead. Nothing much you can do.
But in Peter’s case the church had opportunity to pray.
• And this they did, most fervently and unceasingly.
• Through the night, probably, because when Peter went to the house, they were still praying.
• We don’t always have the OPPORTUNITY to pray.
• When there is still a chance for someone to be saved, to be healed, to be helped… we need to seize the chance we have to pray.
Seize every opportunity we have to pray.
One author said, “I’ve found that waiting is a great time to pray. Lots of people say they don’t like to wait. My suggestion is to not “just wait” but spend the time beneficially by praying. Give it a try. You can pray anywhere. You might think you have little time for prayer but if you use your waiting time you will have perhaps a lot of time!”