Summary: The power and nature of prayer.
“WHEN A CHURCH PRAYS”
“And when they had prayed...”
This morning I want to ask every member or active attending non-member to join me in a season of prayer for this church. I believe that it is essential that every member be involved in the process of prayer. There is incredible power and resources available to the church that prays. In conjunction with that thought, today I want to talk with you about what we can expect when we as a church pray.
The records of the early church point to prayer as its dominant feature. The early believers knew that they were responsible for each other’s well being. They were to be salt and light to their world. One way they demonstrated that responsibility was by praying for the hurts and needs around them.
Just as the members of the early church prayed for the needs of the people around them, we are to pray. Prayer unlocks the storehouse of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is and all that God has, is at the disposal of prayer.
As I have already said, this morning I want to extent to you the invitation to enter into a special season for prayer for our church and its effectiveness in this community. Paul likewise asked the church at Rome to enter into special prayer with him. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God.....” (Romans 15:30)
You will remember from last week that Peter and John had been arrested and put in prison for preaching "Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2). As they appeared before the religious authorities and the high priest, Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit and speaks with great boldness proclaiming about Jesus that there is "no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) The apostles were then warned and threatened not to teach or speak the name of Jesus. Peter responds by saying, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge, for we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19-20) Then after they were further threatened they were released.
“And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. (24) So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, (25) who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things?(26) The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ. (27) “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together (28) to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (29) Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, (30) by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” (31) And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:23-31 NKJV
What should we do and to whom should we go when we are troubled and have more problems than we can handle? The example of the apostle’s was they went to those who cared for them and would pray for them. It stands to reason that every Christian needs to belong to a local body of believers. Refusal to be a part of and to submit oneself to the authority of a local church opposes the plan of the Lord Jesus Christ, the builder of the church. It also causes such people to miss out because they have no local church to go to when troubles abound. Do you have a church to go home to from the world of persecution, pressures, troubles, trials, and problems? Peter and John did, as we read in Acts 4:23, "On their release Peter and John went back to their own people." We see the same thing in Acts 12. Herod had put Peter, in jail, but the angel of the Lord rescued him. When he realized that he was really free, Peter "went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where people had gathered and were praying" (Acts 12:12). Peter went home to his church.