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A Church That Prays

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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)

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in Faith

Where Are Your Feet?

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By Megan Evans

If you’ve been around church culture long enough, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “One foot in the world, one foot in the kingdom.” This is usually in reference to a person who is going through the motions of the Christian lifestyle (going to church, gathering with other believers, etc.) but is hanging onto a part of his or her life that does not want to be given up. 

I’m afraid this phrase can be used to identify many Christians today, including myself. I want Jesus and the World. But I cannot have both.

We are increasingly getting our standards, views, and beliefs from the world: the Internet (specifically social media), our friends and family, politicians, celebrities, the list goes on and on. These things and people are not inherently bad in and of themselves, but they are changeable. Opinions change. Political views change. People change. Even what is right and wrong in a moral sense will change. In a time like this, as the church, we have to be diligent to get our standards, views, and beliefs from what is steadfast, unchanging, and constant: The Word of God. Scripture is inspired by the one who is “…the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

1 John 3:13 says, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” As Christians, we are not called to agree with the world. We are called to service, sacrifice, humility, giving away of one’s things, and weakness, all characteristics that the world does not uphold. It is much easier to want to gossip about our friends instead of serve them. It is much easier to cheat on our taxes than to learn how to better steward our finances. It is easier to talk poorly about a coworker to get that promotion for yourself than to joyfully want it for them.

It is also easier to agree with a friend’s opposing view out of fear of what will happen to your relationship. James 4:4 references this as adultery with God himself, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” When you overhear that conversation at work between a friend telling another to divorce her husband to get back at him, you don’t want those friends to hate you. It is much easier to agree than to challenge.

When you open your wallet to see that business card staring at you, remembering your boss never checks the bank statements, it is much easier to spend someone else’s money. When you remember your girlfriend’s parents are out of town as your dropping her off from a date, it is much easier to let desire win. But Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

If you have a relationship with Christ you have the Spirit dwelling within you, giving you discernment of what is pleasing to the Lord just by asking. You have the Word of God, an active tool for you to grow in Godliness. What would it look like for you to cry out to him to ask for a mind set on him? What would it look like for you to read your bible for daily wisdom on how to serve him? I think it would look like you looking completely different in your friendships, your workplaces, and your homes.

The Christian life isn’t easy. We cannot passively work at our faith. The Lord graciously gives us the strength to battle our flesh, to battle what the world is crying out for us to hold onto. Hebrews 6:10-20 is a picture of the strength we have through God.

We are able to stand firm with the armor of God. We have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness of the Gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). This isn’t a cutesy thing we teach our children, but a real battle of Godliness versus flesh that the Lord has more than equipped us for. Verse 18 says that we can obtain these things through prayer and supplication. Prayer, not silence. Begging, not standing by. Active, not passive.

Church, let’s ask ourselves and give those around us the permission to ask us what part of the world our feet are stuck in. At first it might feel like a loss, but it is the greatest gain. You are giving up the world and gaining the Kingdom.

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