By: Megan Evans
The book of Acts has been such a help to me for many reasons, a few including evangelism, missions, and examples of what boldness and confidence in the Christian faith should look like.
This time through Acts, though, my eyes have been opened to the constant prayer and dependence on the Lord that the apostles and early Christians demonstrated. They relied 100% on the Holy Spirit and 0% on themselves.
“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14)
“But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up” (Acts 9:40)
“[Peter] went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying [for Peter’s release from jail]” (Acts 12:12)
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3)
“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23)
“About midnight [in prison] Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…” (Acts 16:25)
“And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him” (Acts 28:8)
We see in Acts that the apostles and followers of Jesus during the early church were a people that prayed for everything and prayed often. That is because they had realized that they couldn’t do anything without him.
They depended on the Spirit for everything from the healing people of diseases and ailments to appointing elders of the church, to sending out missionaries, to helping those in persecution, to just coming together as believers.
They didn’t view any of these tasks less or more worthy of prayer than the one before. They wanted to make sure in everything that the Lord was being called on and they were doing nothing of their own strength.
Piper, in Let the Nations Be Glad! says, “Since the Giver gets the glory, what all this prayer shows is that the early church meant to make God supreme in the mission of the church.
She would not live on her own strength or her own wisdom or even her own faith. She would live on God. God would be the one who would give the power and the wisdom and the faith. And therefore God would get the glory.”
What would our church look like if we prayed for everything? If we started calling upon on the Spirit at all times, for all situations?
It seems like the church during this time was able to do some pretty amazing things, like heal people and send out many to proclaim the Gospel.
But, as we can see, these early people weren’t any more qualified than we are today. Paul didn’t go from a man that persecuted Christians to a more strong, intelligent, and resourceful guy when he started to follow Jesus. He actually became more weak, needy, and underqualified for the mission ahead.
What Paul did have was what all believers have today – prayer.
So, what would our church look like if we prayed for everything? Would we start to see people healed? Would we see more people believe? Would we be able to depend on him even in our suffering, like Paul and Silas did in prison?
I don’t know.
But the Word shows that powerful things happen when we pray and allow his name to be made great.
To end, here are two quotes that have challenged me greatly this month on the subject of prayer:
“Does anyone really think that America today is lacking preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctrinal statements? What we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful.” – Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
“If Jesus – God in the flesh – felt like he could do nothing on his own, and so was driven always to pray, why do we go throughout our lives with so little prayer? Do we think ourselves more capable than Jesus?” – from J.D. Greear’s sermon “How to Deal with Unanswered Prayer” (Ask Series)