Summary: Prayer still shakes up our lives when we receive God’s power.
Title: Prayer: What Shakes When We Pray?
Text: Acts 16.16-33
FAS: Television interviewer and journalist Larry King describes three farmers who gather daily in a field during a horrible drought. The men are down on their knees, looking upward, and praying the skies will open and pour forth a much-needed rain. Unfortunately, the heavens are silent, and the petitioners become discouraged, but they continue to meet every morning to lift up their request to God.
One morning an uninvited stranger approaches and asks the men what they are doing. They respond, "We're praying for rain."
The newcomer looks at each of them and shakes his head, "No, I don't think so."
The first farmer says, "Of course we're praying. We are down on our knees pleading for rain. Look around, see the drought. We haven't had rain in more than a year!"
The outsider continues to nod his head and advises them their efforts will never work.
The second farmer jumps in and says, "We need the rain; we aren't asking only for ourselves, but for our families and livestock."
The man listens, nods, and says he still isn't impressed. "You're wasting your time," he says.
The third farmer can't take any more, and in anger he says, "Okay, what would you do if you were in our shoes?"
The visitor asks, "You really want to know?"
The three landowners answer, "We really want to know! The future of our farmlands is at stake."
The guest announces, "I would have brought an umbrella!" (1) [Screen 2]
LS: Do we, as followers of Jesus really trust in the power of prayer?
I am in the final week in the series “Prayer”. The first week we looked at whom we are talking to. Last week we looked at why we pray. Today we are going to look at [Screen 3] what shakes when we pray.
Let’s go straight to God’s Word this morning. [Screen 4] Acts 16.16-33. Luke tells us about an interesting incident that took place as Paul and his close companion and fellow delegate of the Jerusalem Council, Silas were heading to, believe it or not, a place of prayer in Philippi. As they walked along a slave woman followed them around. She had a spirit within her that allowed her to predict the future. Her owners thought this was a good deal and used her talent to make a good profit from the people that listened to her.
For several days she followed Paul and Silas around and revealed who they were by saying, “These men are servants of the most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”
At first you might think Paul would appreciate the woman speaking about them but for some reason he became annoyed it says. I believe it was because the spirit in the woman was evil and was being used by the woman’s owners to make money. Not looked upon very approvingly by God I am sure. (Just my thought).
So Paul called upon the name of Jesus, in other words he prayed, and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”
At that very moment the spirit left the woman. A lot of people were around the scene and saw the spirit leave the woman. Of course the owners of the slave woman were furious. Paul had messed up their money deal. They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They told the magistrates these men were throwing the city into an uproar with talk of this Jesus and advocating that the Romans should accept the practices of these Christians, not using that title in a very nice way I might add.
A bit of a mob scene broke out and the magistrates ordered that Paul and Silas be stripped and beaten. After they were severely flogged they were thrown into prison. The jailor was commanded to keep a close watch on these two. The jailor knew that meant his own life was at risk if they escaped, so he put them in the inner cell and if that wasn’t enough; he fastened their feet in the stocks. [Screen 5]
Let’s pick this up at verse 25. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Imagine what the other prisoners were thinking. Here are these too crazy guys, probably still covered with blood from their flogging, rejoicing by singing and praying to God. What could they possibly think that would be any good for? But then it happens. [Screen 6] Start Sound Effect
26. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.