Summary: This message challenges us to evaluate our prayers. We need to remember the sovereignty of God, the supremacy of Christ and the sanctity of the church.
June 23, 2013
Will You Pray with Me?
Opening words: You know the story. Jesus was executed on a Friday. Everyone thought it was over. However, everyone was wrong. It was just beginning. On Sunday morning a few women showed up at his tomb to pay their final respects. They made a discovery that changed the world. Jesus was alive! For forty days walked the face of this world in his resurrected state. During that sacred time period, he did two things. First, he proved his was a bodily resurrection. In other words, he wasn’t a ghost. Second, he taught about the Kingdom of God. As Jesus ascended into heaven he entrusted the ministry to the disciples. On their own, the task of evangelizing the world seemed impossible but when the Holy Spirit arrived everything seemed possible. The church was created and the divine helper was changing lives. For example, on a single day 3,000 people claimed the name of Jesus and were saved. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching’s, the fellowship and to worship. The apostles were changing too. They were learning how to trust the Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Peter healed a man who had been crippled from birth. For this act of kindness, Peter and John were arrested and interrogated by the Sanhedrin. That leads us to today.
We are near the end of the forth chapter of Acts. John and Peter were released with the orders to never mention the name of Jesus again. That was impossible. The church has always wanted to talk about Jesus. When they arrived home, they are greeted by the fellow believers, who wanted to hear the news. They celebrated their safe return by praying. We are going to look at that prayer today. I have called this sermon series on Acts Church Planting. I have called this message Will You Pray with Me? May God give you ears to hear this morning’s scripture lesson, Acts 4:23-31.
Acts 4:23-31 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.’
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Saint Francis of Assisi once uttered this prayer:
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive it; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
And all of God’s people said, “Amen!”
Years ago, I served three churches in Belmont County, Ohio. I was proud I serve the United Methodist congregations in Morristown, Lloydsville and Bannock. The largest of the three churches had about sixty in worship. My three churches were teamed with two other United Methodist congregations in the area, Belmont and Bethesda. Together, we formed the West Belmont Cooperative Parish. Every Monday morning the pastors of those churches would meet. The pastor of the Belmont church was a guy by the name of Lew Kilzer. He was sort of an odd fellow but I liked him. He wore an un-groomed beard and rumbled shirt. His cloudy glasses were always sliding down his nose. I didn’t see him at Annual Conference this week because he left the ministry years ago. He was more interested in computers than he was people. One day he turned on his computer and said, “I want to show you something.” He hit a few buttons and his computer came to life. He showed us a list of prayer requests. He flashed his yellow smile toward us and said, “My church is compiling a list of our prayer requests. We are going to prove to the world that prayer does work.” I thought that was an odd thing to do so I said with a smile, “How many answered prayers do you need to prove prayer does work?” He ignored my cynical comment and pointed to the list. There was all kind of things on it.