Summary: This sermon explains how the church should pray and the wonderful results of corporate prayer.
If there has ever been a time that the church needs to pray, then that time is right now. As a matter of fact, the church can’t afford not to pray. The sinful condition of this world that we’re living in should compel the church to get on her knees. The church must realize that prayers can’t be answered unless they are prayed. It’s through prayer that the church has made it this far, yet church prayer meetings have less people than a convenient store at 3:00 in the morning. In other words there empty. If the church wants to have knowledge of God’s will, agreement with His designs, enjoyment of His presence, and conformity to His image, then prayer must flow from lips of the church.
Prayer is key in the church’s relationship with God. Prayer is how the church communicates with a Holy and Divine God. Prayer is how God has chosen to hear the petitions of the church and prayer is how the church makes her petitions known to God. If the church is the bride of Christ, then communication through prayer must exist. Without prayer the church has no way of communicating her needs to God, and the church has no way of knowing what God wants her to do. The absence of prayer makes it difficult for the church to function and operate. Oh, but what a difference there is when the church prays.
The scriptures are filled with many examples that can help today’s church be what God wants it to be, and it is in our text that we find a church that prays. The book of Acts is a continuation of the gospel of Luke. In this book, Dr. Luke gives us an account of the beginning and history of the early church. After the preaching of the gospel on the Day of Pentecost, the church began to grow and spread rapidly. Christianity was considered a sect of Judaism, therefore making it unpopular among the Jews. Because Christianity wasn’t accepted by most, the church began facing persecution not only by the Gentiles, but from the Jews as well. It was during this time that Saul, before his conversion, reeked havoc upon the early church. Church leaders were beginning to become victims of these persecutions, and Stephen became one of the first to die for his faith.
As we take a closer look into our text, we find the church still in the midst of persecution and crisis. King Herod Agrippa, who came from a line of evil rulers, had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. The church leaders became targets for persecutors, and when Herod saw that the murder of James pleased the Jews he then came after Peter. You know Peter, the one who was fishing in the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men. Peter, who’s faith allowed him to walk on water until he took his eyes off of Jesus. Peter, who claimed Jesus to be the Christ, the son of the living God. This is the same Peter Herod had arrested, and when Peter was arrested he was put into prison and guarded by 16 soldiers. King Herod possibly heard of Peter and the other apostles divine escape from prison before, therefore he wanted to make sure that Peter wouldn’t go anywhere this time. But how many of you know that God’s power can’t be limited?
Peter was detained during the Passover celebration. How ironic, when the Jews were celebrating how God delivered them from Egypt, Peter, the church leader, was imprisoned and shackled. Peter’s stay in prison wasn’t intended to be long, because the next day after the Passover was ended, Herod was going to have Peter publicly executed. James had just been killed and with Peter’s arrest the church knew that they had to do something. Things were getting out of hand, and it was more than the church could handle alone. What should the church do when satan attacks? How does the church respond in the time of crisis? Here we see the church responded to their crisis by praying.
Verse 5 says, “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” The first thing we must observe is when the church prays it must pray without ceasing. When the church prayed for Peter, it wasn’t a short sweet prayer, but they prayed continuously, earnestly, and fervently. They prayed with sincerity, seriousness, energy, and passion. They extended themselves in prayer; I mean they prayed the walls down.
In football, when the visiting team goes for it on fourth down, the home fans exert so much energy in trying to break the concentration of the visitors so that they can’t convert and make the first down. It was fourth down for satan and he using King Herod to try to make the first down by having Peter executed. But, just like the home fans at the football game, the church exerted in their praying.