For our Tuesday gathering, I selected three groups gathered before God in prayer from the New Testament in order for us to identify the purpose for intercession by those assembled.
Of the first group, from the record of Zechariah’s service in the temple (found in Luke 1:8-10), we discussed how the group interceded in service to God.
The second group of servants, praying to share the gospel in the face of persecution (found in Acts 4:23-31), prayed in service to the Lord Jesus Christ.
From the final group, gathered in intercessory prayer for the release of Peter (in Acts 12:1-19), we noted they were praying in service to the Church.
We find, therein, applications for us today. With a common cause, the cause of Christ, and a common concern, the kingdom of God, we too should gather in prayer
In service to God
In service to Jesus
In service to the Church
Whom do your prayers service?
I know I am guilty of focusing my prayers on what I want. Praying for me . . . me . . . me. Unfortunately, I have been known to overlook the will of God and the King’s kingdom when I’m consumed by a long (and growing) list of concerns. But, thankfully, the Word of God and the Spirit prompt and convict—making me mindful of the bigger picture.
Let’s circle back to the passage in Acts 4:23-31. I found three distinct – and exciting – parts to the believers’ prayer that I simply must share with you.
Take a look . . .
Verse 24 – they began with Praise
Verses 25-28 – they moved into praying the Word
Verses 29-30 – they stated their Request
P = Praise
W = Word
R = Request
This account proves undoubtedly that there is power in prayer!
And what was their request? Enable your servants to speak Your Word . . . boldly.
They prayed, by the enabling power of Jesus (v30) (yet another example for today’s disciples), and after they prayed the place was shaken (v31).
They petitioned God for courage to meet the challenge of being obedient to His will. And God answered by filling them with the Holy Spirit—empowering them to speak the gospel faithfully and boldly.
On yet another occasion, the church huddled in earnest prayer for Peter to be rescued from prison. They also experienced God’s answer—even as they prayed (Acts 12:12).
When the answer to their prayer arrived at the door, however, they didn’t recognize it (v15).
They believed Jesus could. They just didn’t believe He had!
I often believe God can answer my prayer. But, at the same time, I also doubt whether He will.
I have also been guilty of continuing to pray the same old prayer . . . long after God has already answered it. Which tells me I should probably pray for discernment, so I can recognize the answer to prayer when it comes—
— because it always comes.