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The Power of a Prayer Meeting

Acts 4:23-31

 

 

Peter and John have been arrested/threatened not to preach Christ...but the Lord has told them to continue!  [torn between God and man.]

 

When released, they needed a break.  So where did they go?  Tavern?  Belly up to bar?  No...they had a praise and prayer meeting!  Yes, praise is a key part of prayer!

 

Read vv. 23, 24, 31

 

Peter and John were persecuted, and that led them to pray and praise God.  Remind you of anyone?

Paul and Silas in prison?

David, being pursued and hunted?

Job, in the midst of unspeakable grief?

Moses, when people complained about his leadership?

Noah, while people mocked his preaching for years?

This same John, exiled on the isle of Patmos after being boiled in oil?

Jesus, when on the cross He said it is finished, and with blood spilt out and body hanging in ribbons said to His Father in prayer, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.

 

We have been reminded of many in Scripture who praised the Lord following trial or persecution.  We are reminded of all these.

 

Anyone else?  Are you sure this doesn’t remind you of anyone?  Not even yourself?  “No, that doesn’t sound like me.”

Why is it that we don’t praise the Lord when bad things happen?  We pray.  Oh, that’s when our prayer life jumps into high gear!  Jesus taught us to pray and in the Lord’s prayer it begins and ends with praise.  And He said to rejoice when we are persecuted, for then we are in good company.  If we follow Him, really follow Him, others will know and some will criticize.  Some will persecute.  All who live godly SHALL suffer … persecution!

 

Wait, is that why we don’t praise often, because we AREN’T persecuted, because we AREN’T living godly?

 

But our praise isn’t tied only to persecution.  We praise Him for great things He has done, and for WHO He is!  There’s so much for which to be thankful that the Bible says His praise should continually be in our mouth.

 

Psalm 145:1-3

        I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. [2] Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. [3] Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

 

Praise without ceasing / pray without ceasing

 

“oh, what peace we often forfeit...”

 

v. 23        John and Peter headed for their own people [law of affinity:  we're attracted by those like us...birds of a feather flock together!]

        You can tell a lot about those a person runs w/...or runs to.

joke--drunk picked up by preacher on road and taken home said, "Please come in and meet my wife" “No!”  “Please!”  “Why?”  “I want her to see what kind of company I'm keepin'!”

 

Well, Peter and John ran to their own company. 

        It's a shame when people get into trouble and don't run to the church, filled with their family/believers...may we make our church one to which they can run!

Away w/ selfish Christianity that comes to church only for what I can get...did it ever occur to you that there are some who need what you can give?

 

Here's 4 things that can revolutionize our prayer lives:

This was a…

1.     United Prayer—“one accord” / In Bible times they dropped to their knees and joined hands and prayed TOGETHER.  [tho' we all should have private prayer lives, we should pray as a family...meals...bedtime...family devotions...crisis...hospital, etc.]  We'll be united or we'll be untied!

As a church the same is true!

 

2.     God-Centered Prayer--did not focus on their problems, but on God's power!

v. 24        recognized God as Creator

When we do this, it puts our problems in perspective...reminds us that He can handle our problems.  He’s big enough!  I think He can handle it.

        We have problems and then are tempted to pray a prayer of complaint, as if God is responsible for what happened, and is to blame.  That’s looking at God THROUGH OUR PROBLEMS, rather than looking at our problems THROUGH GOD.  Then we see them differently.

        Read the most powerful prayers in Scripture, you'll see they're not problem-centered, but God centered!

 

Nehemiah 9--He was in serious trouble, but spent several minutes praising things about Who God IS, before making his request!

 

Isaiah 42:10--he talks about God's power/guidance/control/faithfulness prior to his requests.

 

David was the king.  But even before he was king, he was the KING of this kind of praise packed powerful prayer!  He prayed a lot.  He praised a lot.  Let’s just get real practical about David: He talked a lot…to God!  If we just talked to Him more we would praise more and it would affect how we then pray and what we pray.  It would change the tone of our prayers and our attitude toward God and our problems.

 

I’m living proof…you simply cannot have negative feelings toward someone for whom you pray a lot.  Prayers for them will affect your feelings toward them.  On the other hand, your feelings against them can also keep you from praying for them.  What about them are you thankful for?  Tell God!  Tell them!  Before you know it you’ll be best bros!

 

Revolutionize your prayer life by making it a praise life, rather than just a heavenly complaint box...take out some moans and add some amens...delete the hows? and replace w/ hallelujahs!  Set gratitude up front in the seat usually reserved for your groans!

 

ill.--John Wesley riding horse thru countryside, was overcome by thieves who took every cent he had on him.  That night he prayed [he recorded his prayers in a journal]. 

"Dear God, I thank you for 3 things:  Though they took my money, they didn't take my life...though they took ALL my money, it wasn't much...most of all, thank you that it was I who was robbed, and not I who did the robbing!"

 

What a positive, God-Centered prayer!

 

3.     This was also a Scriptural prayer

Based on Scripture

        Quote the Bible when you pray [hide it in your heart, recall it]

v. 25-26   This is from Psalm 2--a prophecy made hundreds of years before Christ of how the kings of the earth would conspire against Him...but in the middle of it all, God would be in control [laughing]. 

 

Then they pray the interpretation:

v. 27        they all gang up as predicted...

v. 28        and they were your puppets, Lord!

 

v. 29-30   they apply it to their situation now.  Lord, you were in control when the rulers crucified Jesus, and you're in control of ours.

 

They pray Scripture/claiming Scripture/praying based on the Bible...so can we, and so we ought to!

 

ill.—one year I needed money for taxes, so I prayed according to story of Peter [go fishin']  Mt. 17:24-27

 

How should we pray?  Biblically!  Souls:  Lord, you're not willing for them to perish!/Lord, you added unto the church daily.../you're the great physician who touched blind eyes.../brought prodigal home, do it for our son!

 

United, God-centered, Scriptural...

 

4.     This was a totally unselfish prayer

v. 29        Amazing!  They didn't pray for deliverance/for God to crush their heads!/call fire down on council/for protection, but that they would be able to still do what they are supposed to despite it all!

 

We don't pray like that...we pray for God to get us out of situations, not in deeper!

        We say, oh God, kill 'em!  Smite w/ hemorrhoids like asteroids/may the fleas of 1k camels...

 

Philip Brooks:  Don't pray for an easy life, pray for God to make you stronger!  Don't pray for tasks equal to your power, but for power equal to your tasks!

 

ill.--6 year old boy got a sweet tooth/slipped finger into the barrel, then into his mouth/owner scolded him: 'unsanitary'/kid was embarrassed, left/few days later his tongue guided him there again/did same again…was caught again/this time man took him by arm and escorted him out firmly…spanked him/you'd think he'd learn his lesson, but 10 days later he did it again, but before he could get it to his mouth, owner caught him red handed/he picked him up, turned him upside-down and, yes, proceeded to dip him in head first/The last thing you could hear as he was lowered was a prayer, “Lord, give me a tongue equal to this opportunity!”

 

Look at the POWER of praying in the assembly!

v. 31        They prayed right, and they received!  Boldness/power.

        This is the 3rd time they had been filled w/ the Holy Spirit...still novices, but God worked!

 

ill.--a church bought a new organ for thousands of dollars.  They hired a professional to come intro. the organ w/ a concert/came, but no sound/someone:  let's pray!/custodian walked over and realized power switch was off/turned it on, handed note to organist while all still praying:  "After the prayer, the power will be on!"

 

And that's the message for FBC!

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