TEXT: Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; Rom. 1:8-11; Col. 1:3; 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17
INTRO: The beginning of the Bible shows us God's creation of the first two humans, and a story of how He communed with them daily. God's design for the human race included regular communication.
The fall of Mankind destroyed this relationship. Suddenly Adam felt naked, not so much in terms of being naked physically, but naked by being "alone" - outside of communion with God.
God has always desired to have regular fellowship with us, and being a spiritual being, praying is the mechanism that allows us to do that. As Pentecostals, it is language, speaking to God that even became the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, proof that God desires to "speak to us, and for us to speak to Him."
Praying is too often overlooked by Christians as a drudgery, or something they have got to do - it is more a privilege of what we get to do in order to fellowship with God daily.
By the way, no place in the Bible did Jesus teach the disciples how to preach, but He did take time to teach them how to pray, that's how important this is!
PROP. SENT: The Bible will teach us the importance and privilege prayer can be, and the joy to be in daily communication with our creator and Lord. Not speaking with God daily would be like not speaking with your loved ones daily.
I. "DEVOTED!" Acts 1:14; 2:42a; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17
A. Faithful Commitment! Acts 1:14; 2:42a Col. 4:2
1. Notice the atmosphere in the Upper Room while the disciples were waiting for God to do something: "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." Acts 1:14
a. They weren't just sitting around hoping something would happen, they were in prayer "CONSTANTLY."
b. This is what anchored them in the midst of persecution, times of distress and uncertainty, when facing both good and bad times.
ILLUS: There is a story of a man who tried to weigh a prayer. He owned a little grocery store. It was the week before Christmas, shortly after World War I.
A tired-looking woman came into the store and asked for enough food to make a Christmas dinner for the children. The grocer asked her how much she could spend. "My husband did not come back; he was killed in the War. And I have nothing to offer but a little prayer," she answered.
The storekeeper was not very sentimental nor religious, so he said, half mockingly, "Write it on paper, and I will weigh it." To his surprise, the woman took a piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to the man, saying, "I wrote it during the night while watching over my sick baby." The grocer took the piece of paper before he could recover from his surprise and, because other customers were watching and had heard his remarks, he placed the unread prayer on the weight side of the old-fashioned scales. Then he began to pile food on the other side; but to his amazement, the scale would not go down. He became angry and flustered and finally said, "Well, that's all the scale will hold. Here's a bag; you will have to put it in yourself, I am busy." With trembling hands the woman filled the bag, and through moist eyes expressed her gratitude and departed. After that the store was empty of customers, the grocer examined the scales. Yes, they were broken and they had become broken just in time for God to answer the prayer of the woman. But as the years passed, the grocer often wondered about the incident. Why did the woman come at just the right time? Why had she already written the prayer in such a way as to confuse the grocer so that he did not examine the scales? The grocer is an old man now, but the weight of the paper still lingers with him. He never saw the woman again, nor had he seen her before that day. Yet he remembers her more than any of his customers. And he treasures the slip of paper upon which the woman's prayer had been written-simple words, but from a heart of faith, "Please, Lord, give us this day our daily bread." – Source Unknown
c. Prayer was not just a burdensome discipline to learn, it was their normal practice.
2. Notice too in Acts 2:42a the starting of this verse, "They DEVOTED themselves..."
a. They were "DEVOTED" to doing 4 things:
(1. Doctrine (Apostle’s teachings)
(3. Breaking of Bread (Communion)
b. It was not a multiple-choice menu, they were "devoted" to all four of these items, which included "Prayer."
3. In fact, this was not just in the Upper Room where this call to be "devoted" shows, it shows up in Paul's writings over and over again, such as Col. 4:2 "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." And the following verses Paul repeats for the Colossians to "pray" for specific things.
4. Prayer was a commitment, a privilege. They were to be faithful to praying daily.
B. Frequent Communications 1 Thess. 5:17
1. When Paul is writing to the Thessalonians concerning the return of Jesus, and how the believers are to live while watching for His return, he writes one of the shortest verses in the Bible, "pray continually" 1 Thess. 5:17
a. Notice Paul gives little detail, but is quite specific as to frequency, "continually!"
b. Prayer is not just verbal communication, it is communing with God constantly.
c. Your eyes can be open and you are praying, "Watch and pray" was the command.
2. If our lives are a constant "prayer" then we aren’t caught off guard when things happen.
a. Prayer is not twisting God’s arm to get what we want, it is aligning our lives to what He wants!
b. Failure to pray will mean loss of peace, it doesn't mean that God doesn't work on our behalf.
ILLUS: When my brother Gary died and Wanda was so distraught because for the first time they had not prayed together before he left on the trip he died on. My brother didn’t die because she failed to pray, but her peace was gone because she had failed to pray, we are only at God’s mercy, not one another.
II. DISCIPLESHIP Acts 2:42b; 3:1; Rom. 1:8-11; Col. 1:3
A. Freeing Condition! Acts 2:42b; 3:1ff
1. The early church made praying one of the daily experiences, this freed them from fear, from doubts, from feeling helpless in the midst of persecution.
2. This connected them with one another and with God.
a. It is hard to be angry with either God or others when you are praying for them, or in God's case, praying to Him.
b. This was the spiritual glue that held the early church together, and will today as well.
3. Notice how routine prayer was for the early disciples, it was 3 in the afternoon and Peter and John were going to the Temple at the "time of prayer" as was their daily custom.
a. There are set times for praying specifically as well as a life of prayer.
b. This journey to the Temple to pray at a regular time set the stage for a great miracle of healing for a man who had been lame from birth.
c. Notice in Acts 3:1ff that Peter stops to free this man, prayer was the motivation for going to the Temple, and not it would result in this man being healed of a lifelong disease.
4. Healing in the New Testament was often precipitated by prayer first. In fact, the Bible tells us to call on the elders of the church to anoint with oil and offer the prayer for the sick.
5. On one occasion when the disciples failed to cast a demon out, Jesus said that these kinds of demons didn't come out except with prayer first. They had apparently failed to pray first, and with no prayer, no deliverance, no freeing!
6. Church has to have more than glitz and great music, and even great preaching - it needs the discipline of prayer as well.
B. Fellowship Connected! Rom. 1:8-11; Col. 1:3
1. As Paul traveled about he prayed constantly for those of his brethren. Notice his words here, "First, I thank God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impact to you some spiritual gift to make you strong"
a. Paul's fellowship with them was through a bond of constant prayer.
b. When he couldn't be present with them, he could be connected to them in prayer.
c. A church should be a praying church, just as Jesus said when He threw out the shopkeepers in the Temple area, saying that "my house is a house of prayer, not a den of thieves."
2. Paul nearly always reference prayer when he addressed any church, something he was normally doing on their behalf: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you..." Col. 1:3
a. How do you feel when people say they are praying for you?
b. This is a bond among us as God's people.
ILLUS: Jesus Christ carries on intercession for us in heaven; the Holy Ghost carries on intercession in us on earth; and we the saints have to carry on intercession for all men. - Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 8859.
3. This brings us back to the Garden of Eden - God's desire to commune with man. Prayer is the power to reconnect with God on a daily basis, and daily living is the design God has for us.
CONCLUSION: Prayer is powerful not because it changes "things" but because it changes us! Failure to pray means that we don't change, and changing more and more into the image of Christ is the goal. It is rare to see someone who prays all the time struggling spiritually, because being connected to God constantly happens with regular prayer, and regular prayers also strengthens the bonds between us as believers.