Growing through Prayer - Acts 4:23-31, 12:1-18
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A journey through Acts: The scattered church
It is interesting to observe what Peter and John do immediately upon their release. They do one thing that's very natural, and they do another thing that's very supernatural. The natural response is to seek the fellowship of friends. The supernatural response was prayer; not just that they prayed, but how they prayed and the result of that prayer. As we go through the devotion today you'll notice there are five points to cover. The first point is the natural response of Peter and John to the threat from the Sanhedrin, the remaining four is examining the supernatural response to the threat.
1. The PEOPLE of Prayer
Verse 23: “When they were released, they went to their friends…”
This is a natural response; Peter and John were just threatened by the highest Jewish court, and so they find comfort in their friends. We all need friends, we all need a place that feels like home, we all need a group that we come back to after we feel like life has beaten us up and we can find some comfort and healing.
Who are these people? This is the church, these are the believers gathered together. The Church is meant to be a place of connection, restoration and healing; a place where genuine friendships are developed.
2. The PASSION of Prayer
Verse 24: “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God…”
What a good way to respond as believers. Praying together! If we face an obstacle or an opposition may our first response be to pray. The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments perform in a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ's church.
3. The PRAISE of Prayer
Prayer is not a shopping list; one key component of prayer is praise to God. No doubt they prayed for some time and Luke gives a summary of their passionate prayer in verses 24-30; seven verses in total. But what is interesting about their prayer is that five of the seven verses are prayers of praise to God. The majority of their prayer is a prayer of praise.
NOTICE: they have just been threatened by the Sanhedrin; they come together to pray for boldness in their witness yet they spend most of their prayer not praying for boldness but praising God for who he is. Why would they do that? Here is why: Timid Christians have a tiny god, bold Christians have a BIG GOD!
4. The PETITION of Prayer
After declaring those theological truths in praise to God, they petition our great God in the last two verses 29 and 30: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
The prayer goes in direct opposition to the injunction given by the Sanhedrin. And it's interesting to note what they did NOT pray for. They did NOT pray that God would remove the evil leaders from office; they did NOT pray that God would remove the threats against them. They did NOT even pray that God would protect them from persecution or death. Now you can pray for all those things but I'm just noting that that's not what they prayed for.
5. The PRODUCT of Prayer
We find the product, the result of their prayer in verse 31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness”.
Their prayer was answered. They prayed that they would speak the word of God with boldness, and that's exactly what they did.
Minister: Very Rev Canon Sammy Wainaina-Provost.
Heavenly Father, fill your church with the Holy Spirit that we may be united in prayer. Make your church a place of fellowship and genuine friendship where the persecuted can find comfort and healing. Teach us to pray aright and give us your boldness amidst severe opposition. Amen.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
Anglican International Development (AID), England, have developed microfinance projects in South Sudan and Kenya. They are organising an online seminar about Microfinance - AID's Big Microfinance Zoom Pray that the seminar will be well subscribed and that AID can develop this great ministry.
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