Summary: things happen when the church prays
WHEN THE CHURCH PRAYS
If you study the history of revival, you will discover this undeniable fact: in the recorded history of the church there has never been a mighty outpouring of the Spirit in a Revival which did not begin in the persistent, prevailing prayer of a desperate people. Revival has never come because men “planned” it and put it on the calendar.
This much is sure in all churches, forgetting denominational labels; the smallest meeting numerically is the prayer meeting. If we are weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere.
Wherever the church is aroused and the world’s wickedness arrested, somebody has been praying.
I. WHEN THE CHURCH PRAYS THE PRESENCE OF GOD IS PERCEIVED (31).
“The place was shaken where they were assembled together.”
This expression symbolizes God’s presence and activity. You’ll find a similar phrase in Acts 16:26. Imprisoned, Paul and Silas conduct a midnight prayer and praise service and “suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken." This is a manifestation of the presence of God. It is God manifesting Himself, letting the people know He is present and has the situation under control.
But, you say, isn’t God always present when two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name? Yes, but God being present doesn’t necessarily mean we perceive His presence. Take for instance Genesis 28:16 where is says “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.”
When the church goes to its knees in real prayer, the presence of God is perceived. Suddenly we know He is with us, working, moving, answering.
“when .....they lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (24). Not only were they all there and all praying but they were all praying for the same purpose. There wasn’t a man over here praying for his pet project and another huddled in this corner praying for his pet project. They were gathered in unity with one heart and one soul.
This reminds me of the verse in the Old Testament that tells us that on a certain day all the men of Israel came together with one heart to make David king. That’s the kind of praying that shakes the place. When God’s people come together with one heart to make Jesus king! When all our different little concerns are thrust aside and our hearts flow into one main stream . . . that’s when the presence of God is manifested and people are conscious that God has taken the action.
II. WHEN THE CHURCH PRAYS THE POWER OF GOD IS RECEIVED.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Upon the conclusion of their prayer the Spirit of God filled every believer gathered in that room. “They were ALL filled,” the record states. Not just the apostles, but every member of the church. There had been a filling on the Day of Pentecost but the church cannot operate on past experiences. The church’s experience of God must always be fresh.
There is something remarkable about this incident. As a result of their praying they were filled with the Spirit, but did you look at the prayer closely? The Holy Spirit isn’t even mentioned in the petition. They didn’t pray to be filled but they were filled. With the filling of the Spirit came great power (33).
I believe if we examine the content of their prayer we’ll discover what kind of praying results in the fullness of the Spirit.
A. We must recognize God as Sovereign.
In verse 24 we have these words, “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.”
This is where they started in their prayer—not with the threats of the enemy but with the absolute sovereignty of their God. And that’s where victory always begins——with the recognition that God is our Sovereign Lord.
His Sovereignty is seen in His creation of all things. They prayed, “Thou art God, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.”
They acknowledged God as creator of heaven, earth, the sea, and all that in them is. Why? Because they were having problems with some of the “all that in them is.” However, they recognized that the Sanhedrin were creatures, and that their God was the Creator. They looked beyond the creation to the Creator, beyond the visible to the invisible. You might say they were telling God on them. Part of the creation was troubling them, and they were appealing to the Creator about it.
His sovereignty is also seen in His Control of all things. Look again at their prayer (26,27). What a formidable host that gathered against Christ! And what did these enemies of Christ come together to do? Look at verse 28. It’s tremendous. “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel DETERMINED BEFORE TO BE DONE.”