In his book on “Prayer”, E. M. Bounds emphasizes that a praying church is a successful church:
“Success is sure to follow a church given to much prayer. The supernatural element in the church, without which it must fail, comes only through praying. More time in this bustling age must be given to pray by a God-given church… More heart and soul must be in the praying that is done if the church would go forth in the strength of her Lord and perform the wonders that is her heritage by divine promise.”
Every one of us has experienced the power of personal prayer. We have experienced times where we have called out to God in the secret place of prayer and He has heard and answered us in power, not for our glory but for His. There is something special when you enter God’s presence for yourself and you talk to Him in secret. It’s something we should all do and do often.
There is also power when the Church prays together as a corporate body. There is a special dynamic that comes into play when the Church comes together, united in faith and purpose to seek God’s face in prayer.
Let’s look at this passage as I share some truths on the subject “When the Church Prays”.
- The Purpose of Prayer——–Vs. 1-4
There were attacks as James had been beheaded by Herod and Peter was on death row awaiting his own execution. The Jews hated the gospel and so they pressed these attacks against the Church. Herod persecuted the Church as it gave him political advantage.
There was apprehension as the Church didn’t know what the future held and as a result of this, fear and concern came upon them regarding the future of the Church.
There was and still is an adversary. Herod killed James and arrested Peter and this brought pleasure to the Jews. Both of them were responsible for the persecution but they were merely instruments in the hands of Satan. He hated the church, the gospel and the Lord that they served and we still have the same problems today. If there was a time where the Church should be united in prayer, it is now.
I want to encourage us to make the prayer for the harvest of souls a matter of urgency in our everyday living. We need to pray on a more consistent basis and using every opportunity to pray for God to do miraculous things here in our presence.
Could God do something of such magnitude that we would all be astonished? I know He can. And the secret to getting Him to do this is to have this church pray more sincerely and more often. I believe that the more we have in number in prayer the more we can show God that we as a church are sincere.
- The People of Prayer——–V. 5
There is a word in verse 5 that makes a difference, the word but. The situation is desperate, but! Peter might be put to death, but! When faced with overwhelming problems the Church called out to God and prayed. Let’s examine their prayer:
It was fervent prayer. When we apply fervency to our prayers, it is a picture of the Church pouring out their hearts towards God as we seek Him to meet our needs.
It was faithful prayer. By this I mean they prayed and believed God would hear them as they prayed for Peter. Faith makes the difference between answered and unanswered prayer.
It was focused prayer. Their focus for the prayer meeting was Peter. When we ask God for specific needs in prayer and He answers, it brings glory to Him, assures us of our relationship with Him and our faith is increased. When you pray, be specific.
It was family prayer. The Church had gathered to pray for one of their own. They sought God’s help for a brother in need. How much time do we spend praying for other people? People that may be facing a life-threatening disease? Those are the people that we should be touching heaven for. There are others who are lost. We should be touching heaven for them. People that are struggling with needs, burdens and problems are the people that we should be touching heaven for. Your brothers and sisters in Christ need you to touch heaven on their behalf.
III. The Power of Prayer——–Vs. 6-11
There is no greater demonstration of the power of prayer than is given here in this passage. Try to visualize what happened.
Peter was bound with chains – there were 16 guards around him and he was sleeping between two soldiers at the time this event took place. Vs. 7. The prison door was
guarded by the keepers. Peter was in a maximum-security prison. No prison breaks happen here. But then the chains fell off Peter.
God is the master of all the chains. The doors opened before Peter and the angel. God has keys for all the locks. There is no door that God cannot open. The men and keepers of the prison didn’t even see Peter and the angel. They locked Peter in, but they couldn’t lock God out.
It was a time of powerful salvation. God intervened and saved Peter’s life because of the Church praying and asking Him to. Church, our God can do powerful things in our midst when the Church prays.
We need to be people that grab a hold of God as individuals and as a Church. The only way things will change is if we as a Church come together in unity and seek God in prayers because great things happen when the Church prays. Amen!!!
Pastor John Punni