Acts 4:1-22 brings the narrative of the healed crippled man to a close as the disciples experience the first opposition to the message of Christ since the crucifixion. Here, Cody discusses the importance of not locating our hope in socio-political or religious powers in the world and how to engage the tough question, “Is Jesus the only way to salvation?”
As usual, you guys do a great job.
Before we get started, we’re going to say a prayer over again, Jimmy and Katie. Last week we prayed over them they’ve been wrestling with with some of our favorite what’s going on with Katie, she’s having some medical issues and they’ve asked us to pray. So we’re going to pray for them again. But also our dear Jojo is going to be having some, I guess, relatively unexpected surgery this week, right, Joe? This week. So sounds like she’s had a broken hip since about fall. And they kind of figured some stuff out and she’s looking forward to talk to her yesterday on the phone for a few minutes and she’s looking forward to being completely back up on our feet, excited about getting back here. So she’s excited about the result of getting better. And so we’re going to pray for both of them as a church right now. So if you feel comfortable if you would lift your hands we’re just going to say a blessing and prayer over these families. Father, we give thanks for Jimmy and Katie again, God with no answers, it just deepens the frustration. So Father, we pray for peace. And, Lord, we expect clarity and we pray for clarity and discernment from the doctors that she’ll be visiting. Lord, help her become
well. And Father, we lift up Jojo
God, we pray that we get thanks, first of all for revealing the problems that she’s had with pain. We thank you for allowing us to figure that out. Lord be with the doctors as they prepare for surgery be with Joe and Joe Joe, as they get ready for this help us as a church community, surround them with prayer and whatever it is that they need during the recovery process. We thank you for our church family in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. So just keep Keep them in your thoughts and prayers as we and will kind of keep you updated as we hear more from them. If you have your Bibles go to Acts chapter four, we’re going to be verses 23 through 31 x 423 through 31. And as you turn there, a little bit of a recap, we’ve been journeying through the book of Acts for a couple of months. Now when we’re in Acts four. And so we’re taking this section by section verse by verse story by story, trying to figure out the rhythm and life of the early church. And what was important to them, what were the things that they saw, what were the things that they experienced? And what is relevant for us today as a 21st century church in North Belgrade, what is it about x that shapes who we are as a church, and today I’m excited because we get to see one of the primary practices of the early church we get to see one of the earliest documented prayers in church history. And because of that, we get to understand the priority of the early church when it comes to engaging the culture, engaging conflict and difficulty. And so last week, we talked about Peter and john being arrested and they were threatened by the religious leaders and these religious leaders. They were kind of in both camps. They had the liberal sad gypsies that conservative Pharisees, and they both had socio political pool when it comes to the what was happening in their world. They were not politically indifferent, to say the least, they were able to persuade and convince the governor pilot to put Jesus on the cross. They have a lot of power and a lot of prestige. And so when they threaten the movement of Jesus, Peter and john, say, look, you can you can tell us not to speak, but we have to speak, we have to speak as as to what we hear and what we have seen. And the message centered on the resurrection of Jesus because what the resurrection means is that God is broken into human history and things are getting different things are becoming different as we begin to follow and trust in Jesus. And so that was a little bit about what we talked about last week. Now this week, what is there a response they’ve been released. And they go back to the if they go back to their friends and tell them, we are now enemies of the religious and state institutions.
How do we respond?
And so with that we’re going to read Acts 423 31 will pray,
and then we’ll get into it.
It says when they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, why did the Gentiles that were there’s ethnic nations? Why did the nation’s rage and the people’s plot in vain the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and his anointed that word anointed as Messiah
or Christ? chosen one.
For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius pilot along with the Gentiles and the people of peoples of Israel to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed in the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together, was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continue to speak the Word of God with boldness.
Let’s pray. God, we ask that our time together be
informed and formed by your Holy Spirit and your word and our conversations with each other. Let today be pleasing to you. Lord, reveal to us what it means to have Have a deep prayer life rooted in Christ.
God, I thank you for the ability to gather here. Help us be in tune with your Holy Spirit’s presence in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. A couple of years ago, a New York Times author
wrote something that was passionate for him
on the nature of prayer.
And he is writing under the under the section of friendly atheist is the name of it. And he says, while the main purpose of prayer may be to help others,
and never does that,
prayers benefit only those who say or hear them. Prayer gives them comfort. It lets them think that they have some control over a situation that may be out of their hands. It is the last resort of people who have run out of ideas, and the first resort of people who never bothered to think about how they can actually fix the problem at hand.
This is not harmless.
There are very there’s a very real downside to praying it loads believers into a false sense of accomplishment. We cannot solve our problems much less the world’s problems through prayer. We often see people with good intentions praying for victims in the wake of a tragedy, but prayer is useless without action. And those actions actually make the prayers irrelevant themselves. Hands that help are far better than lips that pray.
I have no problem with prayer
as it as an act of meditation. In fact, many atheists can tell you the benefit of silence self reflection. The delusion occurs when you think someone else is hearing your thoughts and acting on them. When it comes down to it, prayer is illogical even in religious terms, I mean, if God has a plan, why try and afford it? And if God can be swayed by prayers, what kind of a God would allow the horrors we see in this world? And if two different believers Please pray for different things, how does God choose the winner?
Prayer is nothing but a powerful place bow
we’d all be better off accepting that
a couple of challenges in this. In this op ed,
one of the challenges that immediately struck me
was in my conversation with people over the last 10 years and doing ministry, Christians have a very similar view of prayer as this guy does. And that disrupt that disrupts me and internally a little bit.
I’ve talked to Christians
and my myself I’ll share with you a story in a minute of the struggles. And the way they described prayer is not much different
than this Another problem
is that well, this guy just simply over generalize is all prayer. He compiles all the world religions, basically into one again, assuming that everyone believes in one God, that’s not true. We talked about this last week.
He overcame realizes it.
And he ignores he ignores quite a bit of research in the scientific field done by secularists that validate the reality that there is some unexplainable correlation between people’s wellness
That’s in the clinical psychology field, not just in Christian social circles. These are things that have been researched,
not in depth.
But there’s still enough reason for me to go man, he’s really making overgeneralization about the nature and function of prayer. So he over generalize it, pretending like everyone believes the same thing about about prayer.
When again, the Buddhist
and the Christian have radically different visions of the nature implications and functions of prayer. He makes also he makes prayer about getting things or our desires from God, he makes prayer transactional. And again, this is how a lot of Christians treat prayer. This is how I myself I’ve treated prayer in the past, transactional in nature. I’m calling upon God to get something from him that I feel like I need in this moment. And Paul says, let your requests be made known. But is that what prayer is?
It makes it transactional in
the biblical vision of prayer is not transactional. It’s relational. It’s not about getting something from God, it’s just simply getting God.
Another challenge is that it doesn’t explain
the universal and global longing across time and history and cultures, with people’s desire to commune with the divine. We talked about this before at the table as well. There has not been ever in the history of the world discovered a tribe of atheists.
You can kind of say that tongue in cheek but the point is serious
is that in the heart of every human as far back as we can tell?
There’s been a desire to commune with
God and every people group that we have Had some way of kind of communicating, trying to communicate to the divine. And the beautiful part about the gospel is that when the gospel has gone cross culturally, it actually helps you make sense of those longings better than any other religious framework that has ever existed. I mean, it’s quite remarkable when you study that. But the point being is that this does not explain you can dismiss it, but you can’t deny the reality that people have an innate desire to connect to something beyond themselves. And the question becomes, why and where the heck is this rooted from? Where’s Where is this coming from?
We can dismiss it but we can’t deny
that reality. And the and the arguments were man as as times progress will not need God. We won’t pray as we will need to pray, will have everything scientifically worked out. But again last week, we talked about how Today we are far more spiritual than ever before. Sociologists in the 50s said this was not going to happen. sociologist in the 50s
came up with that secularization theory
the theory that as time progress We will become more secular that has backfired. People are still craving to connect with someone or something beyond themselves. And what I love about this text is that it shows us where the believers believe we’re that longing can be
And it’s in through the person and work of the risen Lord Jesus.
And so this this
idea that the article title is prayer is useless and has a downside. He’s actually saying it’s delusional and harmful
But on the other side, we have Christians who do
treat prayer as a nicety
not as something that is a part of who we are.
I’ll pray for you.
That’s the comment that will pray for you will pray for you will pray for you. Do you really ever pray for these people that we say I’ll pray for you, one of the practices that we’ve been working on here at the Church is when you say you’ll pray for somebody,
do it there.
And the reason being is because it’s too easy to forget, it’s too easy to walk away and not remember. And we’re trying to create a culture of prayer here at the table, we have 45 minutes of prayer before service, we have postponed our service we pray as a part of our services, we pray as tables, as someone has a deeply and profoundly important to us as a church. And we have seen God move in remarkable ways that us who have been in the church for a long time, haven’t seen or haven’t seen in a very long time. And we would attribute this to the Holy Spirit being active and at work and prayer. And prayer is very complex. And we have this.
There’s, there’s about three reasons why we struggle with this.
We live in an age of distraction,
digital vocational, relational distraction, whatever it is, we’re just easily distracted.
We live in a culture of immediacy.
We’re used to having access to whatever you want with one Click
and we don’t get it immediately we Amazon private.
They go actually go to your door. Now in Georgia
you click it comes to your door that day.
We are a one click culture and for one click culture, prayer does not work. And we have a misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of prayer again, most a lot, not most, a lot of Christians, let me say that think of prayer in terms of transactional This is just this time we have to come to God, I have to either confess my sins so he keeps forgiving me or I have to ask for him stuff. And hopefully he gives it to me. It’s very transactional, that that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what prayer is. And typically when we talk about prayer, it’s easy to see the folks who check out and say, oh, I’ve heard this
Again, that reveals a misunderstanding of the nature and importance of prayer. When we say I know a little bit about pearl check out. What does it say that the early church their first response to being confronted with the religious and political powers that be was prayer.
Does that speak to us?
in prayer, again, is complex. It’s not it’s uncomfortable.
We’ve talked about that
in the past. I’m not going to revisit all of it. But I think all of us have had that tension with prayer before. Do I pray for this person? How do I how should I pray for this person? What if I pray for healing and they don’t get healed? Or do I pray for healing? Well, I don’t know what God’s will is. What is this?
I tried praying and it doesn’t work. I
think we can all identify with struggles. In fact,
my recent kind of big struggle with prayer
was back in December of last year.
the situation as we share with you I shared this with you not too long ago, but in December Christina, we found out that we were pregnant.
the the test she went and got we went, took her to the doctor and the test came back that her levels in order to sustain a healthy pregnancy, we’re not there. There’s A particular number they wanted it up to be about 20 verses about five or six. And we ended up miscarrying. And in December.
And during that process
in between the time when the miscarriage happened in the time when we were found out that we were pregnant, I had never been more prayer filled in my life. I mean, I mean, this, this was the fourth, this is the third miscarriage. And my heart was not another, not another, not another, not another. Many of you could probably identify with that. And I remember being on jack rabbit, going to pick up the medication that was supposed to kind of help maybe sustain this pregnancy and I remember just yelling, praying, God, this is a moment for you to show your glory. This is a moment for you to do your thing.
It was tough. I mean, you
You realize in those moments,
what prayer is and what prayer is not.
And what that taught me that moment taught me was that prayer is not about just an outcome of a desired situation.
Man, I wrestled with God with that. In fact,
I was it shaped my attitude for the for the next few days towards people and for the next several weeks I’ll just wrestling with
what am I doing praying?
Well, a couple of a couple months ago.
Christie just wasn’t feeling well.
Kind of on a regular basis. And we’ve been married now no going on 10 years now and
she hadn’t been feeling I’m not eating well. She comes home
with like, a
couple packs of jello.
And some ginger ale.
We’ve been married almost 10 years. I’ve never seen her eat jello. Like,
we know what that means. So
she goes and takes a test and turns out, she’s pregnant.
And we go to the doctor. And we were,
of course, the emotions start coming back again.
Lord, Lord, Lord and I remember my prayers were okay Lord, just give us some clear indication levels need to be at 20 give us 18 or give us to just let us know. Have you guys ever been in situations like that? Like, just let it know just let us know. Comes back 11 deeply frustrating, deeply fearful, dear, you know, well, I went out and I bought a journal. And I was like, Okay, I got a job. I gotta jot this down because I’m not doing this like I did last time. And so every day riding and praying for the little baby praying for the little baby
and we Go,
the doctors Take a look. And even the doctors she was she was wonderful. She said, You know, I think we should probably praise God because the baby looks healthy, everything’s fine. So it’s like a wonderfully boring pregnancy. And and so now we’re about 13 weeks.
that thanks, be praying for us.
But what I mean, we feel that complexity, why does God respond sometimes and not the others in the way that we want or hope or it’s difficult. And so this text, really speaking to me this week as I’m trying to prepare it. And so I want to just kind of briefly walk through what does it look like to develop that deep prayer life and I’ll share with you that story, let you know I’m not there. The things that I’m working with today are coming out of a place in position of what I’m learning now. What I’m trying to grow in. And so when I say these things, that sounds nice, you must have it together now.
Not even close. So
bear with us as we kind of go through this but a couple of things. How do I begin to deepen my prayer life with God and, and again, these are the things that I’m learning. So the first thing is that prayer recognizes the powerful and personal nature of God recognizes the powerful and presence or sorry, the powerful and personal nature of God. The text opens up it says when they release, they come and they open, they open up with the statement, Sovereign Lord, that’s one word in the Greek, but it’s the word where we get master
This is a different word than the word sovereignty that’s used elsewhere in Scripture.
This has to do with,
with God’s rights and oversight over all things. And when we hear these words is another word in here that throws people off predestined and sovereignty, we get into these large theological debates about what these things actually mean. When you discover the semantic meaning of the word sovereign, it just simply means God’s right to rule. He is entirely in control. It does not mean that he has meticulously controlling everything. It means that he is in control of all things. There’s an important thing distinction they’re they’re actually really does matter with how we interpret passages like this. But the idea being that God is in full control Sovereign Lord, it reveals the sense of I placed myself underneath the rule and reign of the Lord. And so that’s that’s the important word is the word Lord there. This is about in whom and where we place our trust. And they just spent time with the sociopath, socio religious leaders, and now they’re spending time with their master. So the Pharisees, the Pharisees, they have this God and country mentality. The disciples are approaching with the Christ and Kingdom mentality to radically different versions of how we operate and live in this world, God and country, Christ and Kingdom. Those are two frameworks that really matter that still exist to this day. And what Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount is situated ourselves under the rule and reign of God, seeking first the Kingdom of God and all these other things that we need will be added unto us. And so I love what Jesus It says in Matthew 626, or 24, he says this.
And this is kind of what he’s getting at.
He says, Look at the birds of the air they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them are you not have more value than they? And which of you being anxious can add a single hour to his lifespan?
And why are you anxious about clothing?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin yet I tell you, even Solomon and all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
We’ll stop there.
What Jesus is not saying is that there’s nothing to worry about. Does anybody get frustrated? When people simply say, don’t worry about it?
Can we be honest in church this morning?
Show of hands, does that just tick anybody off?
Don’t worry about it.
what’s easy to say when you have nothing to worry about?
I love what Jesus is doing. He’s not saying,
don’t there’s nothing to worry about. He’s inviting us to let him worry about it.
There’s a difference.
I love that.
It’s an invitation.
It’s an invitation to trust in God, as the Sovereign Lord of all things. And I’m learning this in my prayer life that when I position myself before God’s and you are King, you are good. And if if you have a good as powerful as if you have God is powerful enough as this text is indicating, and he doesn’t respond the way you want him to then he must at the same time, be a god so powerful that he has different intentions in mind. And that’s the hard pill to swallow.
It’s not Don’t worry, it’s let God worry about it.
Nothing surprises him more is out of his control or his ability to redeem or refashion Things, Christ and Kingdom as a redemptive vision for all things that have been wrecked by sin. I don’t get into questions like why does this happen anymore? Why does this happen? those answers typically never help in Scripture when people got the answer, why do you Why are you doing this Lord? When they get the answer, it only makes them more mad.
Just read the Book of Enoch.
When you read that little Old Testament book, God tells him in detail what’s happening and it frustrates him even more.
I’m learning to understand that things happen in a world
like this because things are broken.
in a broken world, we’re all things have been wrecked by some things get wrecked sometimes. But it’s not beyond the redemptive scope of god that’s Christ in His Kingdom. And so, the gospel of God and country when it comes to situations like this, is you got to put forth a lot of performance into this prayer thing. Man, you got to get it everything right. You got to say the right words. Make sure you don’t say Father God 10 times in the prayer, make sure that you don’t linger too. Long don’t don’t don’t spend too. It’s got to be the perfect prayer. The garden country Gospel says it’s has to be systematic and perfect. And it’s the gospel of God helps those who helps themselves. That is nowhere in Scripture. And when I see Christians post that I’m like, can you please reference a Bible verse? It is not and that that is not the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of God and country is God helps us helps us helps himself went out, went out of ideas, ask for God’s help and hope for the best. But the gospel of Christ and Kingdom is that God helps those who realize they are helpless, who realize that they need him who realized that they are completely and totally unable to fix their spiritual condition before God. they’re unable to fix the things that are broken in this world apart from him. It’s just impossible. And so atheists like the guy that we just read a minute ago, who critique this idea and concept of prayer. I’m so one I’m always wondering why they’re so interested in debunking prayer in the first place. Why is it that when when tragedies happen in the world, secular news media puts where was God? Why is it that our mind naturally drift toward the divine when things happen? We are wired for communion with God, it is natural to wonder about those things. Because when things break, we realize it’s foreign to the way things ought to be. No One No atheist included, will look at the world go. I like things the way they are. That means that there’s been something within us that knows something’s been disrupted. Prayer is the space where we gather with God and communion and our longing is connected to him as the Sovereign Lord. The Gospel of God’s the gospel of Christ and Kingdom God helps those who realize they are helpless and need to need him. Whereas God and country says self dependence and performance Christ and Kingdom says self emptying and dependent
It reveals that God has full potential Powerful control and that is personal. How don’t always personal from this text because this high powerful God speaks to us what the text says, through your servant David through an individual who was a shepherd, who became a king he speaks.
He is extremely personal.
And so prayer then is not about a transaction. It’s about a relationship. It’s about the communion with God. And just like or any other relationship prayer involves silence, sometimes listening, watching, waiting, observing, and it’s not just about speaking, when you get married or when you’re in a relationship. Most of your communication is not verbal.
This is prayer,
watching and waiting and listening for God that moves us to the next thing. Prayer connects our situations to Scripture, in Acts 425 to 28. They quote a couple of songs, the primary one being Psalm two, verse one, and they’re saying why did the nations raid what they’re saying is that the nations on both ends are conspiring and Christ and His kingdom. Why are they why are they doing this? It’s few tile is what the disciples are saying. But what I want you to take away is that they’re connecting their prayer
Prayer has to be biblically literate.
There are too many Christians today saying,
I felt like God’s telling me that he’s changed his mind on this particular thing or this particular thing.
How do you know?
God told me? If God God told me,
if it’s not backed up by scripture, I’m not listening to you.
What God speaks to us will never contradict His Word.
Here’s the problem with this is when people are saying God’s changing his mind about all these things that are happening in our culture. You know what that actually implies?
That God is changing.
And if we can if we can’t trust and this is what it is moral character, guys. If he is changing, we cannot trust him to be the same tomorrow as he is today. We cannot, there’s a logical and it’s not consistent.
What that means when we say I feel like God is speaking this, but it’s not rooted in scriptures, we’re fashioning a God in our image,
rather than God continuing to fashion us in His image.
And prayer is the space where we cling to Scripture like these disciples are doing. They are interpreting their experience through the lens of Scripture. What happens so much in the West is that we have an experience and then we use scripture to put language to it. No, we start with Scripture, and then we interpret our experience through it. We look at it and go, is this something God does in His Word?
Does it seem like something God would do according to His Word?
I like what Tim Keller says. He says,
without immersion, and God Word our prayers may not be merely limited and shallow but also untethered from reality. We may be responding not not to the real God, but to what we wish God and life to be like.
Psalm 119 105 says Your word is a lamp to my feet. You know what the lamp does, it exposes things. It is the lens through which we see our lives as believers. And when we pray in Scripture, what we’re doing is we’re saying, God help me make sense of what I’m going through through the lens of Scripture. How does your word teach me to think about this particular issue? And we did. So Christy and I were here because someone had a vision in Georgia, about us moving to Montana and starting a ministry. Well, you guys know that story. Most of you know that story.
You know, the first thing we did
the sound like something God would do
As we flip through the pages of Scripture and pray, it became clear that God sometimes calls people to do things that don’t make sense in that way to step out in a place that’s fully dependent upon him for everything. We have no family, we had no friends, we had no idea. He said, Go, we aligned it with Scripture, and we went,
we don’t move.
We seek not to move unless his word gives us an indication. And you might say, well, his word doesn’t tell me which car to buy. It’s not supposed to. That’s not what it’s for. Scripture is meant to commute communicate to us the way to God in and through Jesus and to communicate to us what God is like. And guess what, when you get married, their spouse doesn’t come with an instruction manual.
And if it did, you, you need to see somebody.
But in the context of a relationship, because my wife and I know each other so well, and I know my kids so well. I know kind of how she thinks and about certain things. I don’t have to ask her, Hey, from this restaurant, I have to always ask her sometimes I do know that she’s pregnant. What do you want to eat?
And go to a restaurant pretty much have a good idea of what she wants.
That’s what scripture does. It helps us know the heart and posture of God and how we navigate life. not meant to give us every answer. Otherwise it would be transactional. He speaks to us through His Word, we interpret our experience, through His Word, and prayer is the space where we wrestle with God’s word. You have permission to wrestle with God’s word.
There are things in Scripture that man,
honestly, if if there was an eraser would make life a lot easier. The Prayer is a space where we wrestle with those things that challenge us about scripture. And that’s what they’re doing. They’re acknowledging that this has been a part of the plan and story of God, that word predestined. And it’s funny, this word gets so blown up in the church to God predestined some to this and some to that or this and that those are important. conversations but that’s not the point here. What’s predestined in this text is God Himself stepping into humanity through His Son Jesus and dealing with our sin. That’s what’s predestined. That’s what we would call Jesus as the elect one. So nothing to do with who’s saved who’s not saved. This has to do with God’s plan, and and through Jesus, that’s what’s being predestined here. Next prayer develops out of a deep burden for the in breaking of
out of a deep
hunger and burden for God notice are speaking with both. They’re asking for God God to give them the ability to speak with boldness, the word boldness there has to do with persuasiveness has to do with the freedom to speak in situations where you weren’t free to speak. They’re asking God to give them persuasive words, to communicate to the culture that people may be saved. They had a burden, this prayer came out of a burden. Notice they didn’t pray God’s sparrows from the suffering that’s coming. They know it’s coming. They know it’s going to come You know why? Because Jesus said in this life, you’re going to have Well, I think they believed them. As adults, they didn’t pray God spare us. They said, God strengthen us to do your will in the culture that we’re in.
Give us boldness, it came out of this burden
to see God break in,
he’ll do these things that they had seen.
And notice, they do. At the end of the text, they move out there filled and they proclaim the word. You see when we this is where one of the things that this gentleman in the article said is right prayer without action, what it mean what are we doing? there’s some truth to that. That’s not the primary truth but that is a truth. Prayer is putting ourselves in a place where we’re willing to act if God has equipped us to do so. We talked about that here at the table if you see a mean need and you’re able to meet that need.
How much time do you really have to spend
god you know what?
I think there’s a need that I mean, I can totally do that.
Pray about it.
Pray about it.
Sometimes that can be a cop out
from getting involved in the lives of people.
Prayer positions us to a place where we are willing to act out
if there is not a burden in our life for
for God, then there’s our prayer life is going to be barren.
There’s gonna be no fruit coming out of it.
This is what I hear in this text is a burden to see God reach people. And lastly, prayer binds the believers together. In one spirit, the open and closed begin with this communal sense. First thing they did was they went to their friends, they didn’t go to their individual prayer closets, they went to the corporate route. Recent research shows that only 2% of believing Americans pray in church communities
with others to percent.
The idea of solo spirituality is foreign to Scripture.
sacred research alike says we really can’t survive without a sense of community. We’ve got to be rooted in a community and the Bible says you’re rooted in the community of Jesus says he went to their friends,
prayer bonds believers together in the
spirit in a unique way. If you’ve ever been with me when I’m when maybe I’ve maybe I’ve met with you relating to counseling or whatever the case may be. One of the things I don’t do always I think there’s certain context where to be careful with how we use prayer in ministry and how things that we say in prayer in ministry, but oftentimes when I’m when I’m ministering to couples, the first thing that we talk about is the spiritual dynamics of the relationship.
in couples that are in conflict that has spiritual dynamics are really low. When it comes to those who are practicing believers wanting to heal and redeem their marriages. The spiritual dynamics are very low. So usually, one of the first things I do is I have them grab each other’s Hands, look at each other and pray
for for one another.
And I tell them, this is something that you need to be working on on a regular basis.
And the reason being is because there’s nothing
that binds people together like prayer.
We’ve served in the student ministry before
coming here. And when we first got there, there was no prayer happening. And what we did was we instituted prayer as a part of the service and that first, maybe one or two people got prayer. By the end of our time there a few years later, we’d say, okay, we’re going to move into our prayer. It was so beautiful to watch high schoolers just stand up, put their arms around each other with their leader and just pray, pray, pray for one another.
It takes time to cultivate,
but the fruit of it you’ll never be the same when you’re
praying in the context of a community.
I think a lot of times we don’t pray in the church because we’re afraid to scare off seekers,
people who may be exploring,
but I think in prayer, this is the space where we experience in God and in a culture that’s obsessed with experience, they could use a true experience of God. And I think prayer is that space where we can
do that, in fact,
he says this
excuse me, his name is that Carson a bell and he says if sustained prayer is eliminated from worship services on Sunday mornings because they are deemed unattractive for seekers or who expect to be entertained or awkward for church goers, who expect to be guided through a fast paced program, the risen Lord may be knocking at the door from the outside. The priority that we find when they were in conflict that the church moved to was prayer together, it says they lifted their voice together. The word is unanimously they were together on this.
The first response to conflict was prayer.
There’s three things I want to encourage you with it. How do
you I don’t know how do I get started for those of us who are struggling?
What I’m learning is that we start off Honestly, we just start
on us and we come before God, we just start honestly, CS Lewis says we ought to pray, what is in us, not what ought to be in us. Start there. Start with a profound sense of honesty. And when your mind wanders in prayer, guess what? Maybe chase that thought, and pray over that thought. Anybody struggle with mind wandering during prayer? Chase that thought and say, God, what is it about that that I need to deal with? So honestly, next thing is intentionally, intentionally. set a reminder on your phone start small five minutes a day, challenging to do five minutes a day. Find a time and a place Jesus throughout them in his ministry found a time and a place. In fact, first so important to him before he called the 12 disciples he prayed all night, all night. The average American prays. I think about a minute, the average pastor praise two minutes a day.
Can we find time?
And can we find a space?
How do I pray again community find at least one friend in the church to pray with regularly and see what happens. And when you’re getting into these spaces, this you might not expect this guy’s expect boredom,
expect angst and boredom.
We have to as a culture, learn to normalize boredom, again,
normalize the ability to sit there
it is in that space where God speaks is not space where God moves but are distracted. We’ve got to normalize board and that was the advice that was given to me by Pastor and it has been profound, normalize boredom. We can’t have this vision that prayer is always this mountaintop moment.
disciples shortly after praying were persecuted and some died.
The disciples never asked teachers to walk on water. Peter tried. disciples never asked teachers to bring down fire from heaven.
JOHN and James assume they could.
Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn these people up? They assumed they could do that. I don’t know. But I can’t do that. I’ve tried. I’m totally kidding. I’m totally kidding.
Kevin still here, so it’s
obviously doesn’t work.
I’m practically sprinting to hell right now. I need to repent.
I need to stop. So
that was a joke for anybody who’s first time visitor.
No, they didn’t ask to do any of those things. The disciples you know, they did ask teachers to pray.
teach us to pray.
There’s something profoundly attractive about the prayer ministry of Jesus. And prayer is our ongoing communion with God on a daily basis. And just like every communion, or every communal element we have in our lives, with our spouse, with our friends, there’s, there’s struggles, there’s challenges, there’s ups and there’s downs. But there’s got to be a profound commitment that’s rooted in the power of God, rooted in his scripture, rooted in a sense of burden, and rooted in a sense of binding people together. Gossip, gossip, we take that we redeem it in prayer and deal with it. Anything like that is dealt with in the context of prayer is prayer useless and have have a downside, if it’s not properly properly oriented around scripture,
and I would say yes.
But even our struggle to pray
I’d rather see a struggling to pray the not
praying it all. You’ve got five minutes this week, a day and see what happens. Amen. Let’s pray. Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the powerful Text the encounter the disciples had with you. God, we recognize that this text teaches us that you will shake things up when we pray. Father, we’ve asked you to do it again here. We ask that you would do it again in our lives. Lord, help prayer be a priority of this
But think about we think about Jesus and how upset he was at the temple that it had not been treated as a house of prayer. We love you. Help us protect that in Jesus name. Amen. All right, take a few moments just have some conversation around the tables. If you’re not at a full table, filling up
guys take about two minutes to wind the conversation down got two minutes
Alright, I’m going to ask you to kind of wind it down and feel free to finish up the dialogue after the service. You got to make sure we’re getting people out in a timely manner.
We’re going to wrap up with a and this is the worst part of my job.
Alright guys, we’re going to wrap it up, finish these dialogues after the service
for those who are going to keep talking there fire from heaven.
No, I’m just kidding. There’s a
conversations around prayer
are incredibly diverse. It’s just funny to kinda I was listening to kind of various tables and what they were talking about. It’s just, it’s interesting the multiple directions that prayer can go. And I just wanted to leave us with one verse that I think is just extremely relevant. It’s the one minute you see it on coffee cups, but when we actually grasp its truth, it’s really profound. Paul says, Rejoice in the Lord always again, I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, the beautiful part about that is that Paul is saying, there are going to be things where we’re going to need a peace that surpasses understanding, which means in prayer, we’re not going to get everything that we desire we want or that we understand. But there is a peace that comes by communing with God that surpasses the understanding of our situation and circumstance. And x for you’ve got guys unsure of their future, trying to figure out what it means to live faithfully and they begin with prayer. So with that, I’m gonna invite you to stand Daniels gonna lead us a song and then we’ll close out with a prayer after this.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai