Summary: Part 8 focuses on Prayer within the worship services and concludes the series.
Worship Is A Verb Part 9
This will part nine in my series “Worship Is a Verb” and will conclude the series. Last week in part 8, I focused on giving. Hopefully each of you left here understanding that when you give to the Lord you are actually worshipping Him. As with all things pertaining to worship, what you choose to give God in worship of Him starts in the heart. So what you do as far as your worship in giving is between you and God as He is the only one that can see, know and understand your heart. This morning I will conclude this series with a focus on the dynamics of prayer in worship. The question was asked once during bible study why there are so many prayers in our church service and this morning I hope you will leave here understanding why prayer in a worship service is powerful need.
I. Prayer Freed Peter
Turn to Acts 12:1-19 and let’s read this story of Peter. Imagine a group of first century Christians, Jewish Christians at that, gathering in a home for corporate prayer. This is not just any house and this is not just any prayer meeting. This is the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, one of Jesus’ disciples. The meeting is called to pray for Peter. Herod the King has already killed James, the brother of John, and because he saw that it pleased the ungodly religious leaders, he has now taken Peter prisoner to await execution. Four squads of soldiers guarded Peter. Peter was bound with two chains between two soldiers and other guards watched the door. The group prayed together in one accord. Their friend, mentor, and companion in ministry was in need. Things were critical. Outside of a miracle from God, Peter would be executed the next morning. Constant prayer was offered up to God by the church on Peter’s behalf. As they were praying, because their lives were at risk by getting together to pray, a young girl by the name of Rhoda kept a lookout at the door. They continued praying.
While they were praying, even before they were done, God heard their prayer and acted. God sent an angel to loose Peter chains. The angel strikes Peter and the chains fall off. The angel commands Peter to get up, put on his clothes and sandals, and follow him. Peter was led out of the prison; past the two guards he was chained to; and past the other group of guards through the main gate of the city and to the street. Peter thinks he is dreaming. When he comes to his senses, he immediately goes to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. At that very moment, they are having an extended time of prayer on his behalf, asking God for his release. Peter knocks on the door and Rhoda answers. She recognizes Peter’s voice but because of her gladness, she forgets to open the door. Running back to her friends, she announces Peter’s release. Those praying do not believe her, thinking it is an angel at the door – yet no one gets up to let the angel in. They apparently returned to their prayer. When they finally let Peter in, they were astonished. They had been praying for Peter but even they were astonished at the response they received from God. God had granted their request even before the prayer meeting had ended.
II. The Principles of Corporate Prayer
I believe that God responded in Acts 12 because a group of people were committed to corporate prayer. How many testimonies have we all witness and heard as we have come together as a church body to pray around the altar. We have witnessed jobs being saved, people being healed and those who were hurting comforted. Prayer is a great part of our overall worship of God because it brings us into direct communication with Him. We must believe that when we speak, God is listening and when we are committed and come together as one, He responds. A worshiping church is always a praying church – you cannot separate the two. When we come together to pray for others, God’s power will come upon us because we are seeking to minister to someone else versus making constant requests for ourselves. There are a few principles of corporate prayer that I want to share with you based on Acts 12.
A. The Priority of Prayer
The first principle rests with the priority of prayer. Does prayer have a priority with our church service? Do we make it a priority? The fact that we were asked why we say so many prayers would lead me to believe that we do make prayer a priority. The first century Christians in Acts 12 exhibited the priority of prayer in their corporate worship. The bible does not give any indication as to the service structure, the number of people attending the meeting, or the wording of their prayers. As you read the story I think you would agree with me that the desperate need of the hour rather than an intense desire to worship and adore God is what drove these brethren to their knees. Even so, prayer and expressing our dependence on God is at the heart of our worship. Prayer is God’s chosen path for us to reach the throne of grace. In this case, they were absolutely desperate because Peter’s life was on the line. They needed God to intervene and to intervene in a hurry. God responds when people cry out in a spirit of need and dependence.