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December 4, 2021 2:00 am
The first church in Jerusalem had lots of things missing from it—charters, committees, strategies, financial resources and buildings—things that many today would deem as vital. But it had great power! Why? We can only surmise that it is because they tapped into the source of power through prayer. Prayer was part of the very fabric of the church. It was basic and foundational… and it was effective. What would happen to our church if we were all devoted to this discipline?
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The first thing we should.
Why is it that it is so often our last resort is sort of like to do ivory that listener that there's nothing left to do except pray you should started with that. It is almost like I tried everything I've exhausted my resources and now I have to trust God to see how weird that sounds good to connect with Skip, I think we can division it would look at the role of prayer today. Skip begins a brand-new message on your mark get set grow apart for you know, we often make a common mistake when it comes to prayer was probably the most common aspect of Christianity.
They could also be the least understood is a vital part of our Christian life, but how we approach it is as varied as the stars in the habit. So what's the secret is there a secret to prayer on today's broadcast best escape examines this topic and how it applies to our growth in Christ. But before we begin today we've an excellent resource for you this month.
I connectwithskip.com 19 pandemic is constant reevaluation of priorities like choices and the path forward.
This illuminates the question to my life here. Skip I think with some thoughts on priorities that we all want the life with a happy ending life marked by growth life marked by productivity and refreshment in God's touch of blessing and prosperity and maturity. Here is our special offer for this month.
For those who support daily by Skip messages on significant 2022 daily… And they're both thinking the $30 to help more people connect to the contract, when it seemed to go online to connectwithskip.com sample from scant you pursue him. When you pursue holiness and happiness. Tags along: 892 1888 to give or connectwithskip.com. If you open your Bibles once again wax chapter 2 we begin today study Skip Heitzig shares the story of answered prayer. Friday I was at a local hotel meeting my friend Josh McDowell who was here Friday and Friday night while I was waiting for Josh.
One of the managers came up to me with the big smile on his face gave me a bagel bear hug and said I just want you to know that I came up to you after church one Sunday and asked you to pray that I get a job. I've been unemployed and I got the best job. This job this week at the hotel and then last night after service a young girl came up to me just a little gal. We prayed a few weeks ago that she would make the orchestra that she was trying out for.
She's a little violin player and she was all smiles last night and she said I'm in the orchestra, so that's not to say that my prayers necessarily, are better than anybody else's prayers at your prayers are as good as mine or anybody else's. But the point is is in the great when somebody tells you, or you discover something you prayed for and to see it answered. I want to talk to you today about prayer and I want to begin with one.
Parents experience. I think you like this last week I took my children to a restaurant, my six-year-old son asked if he could say grace as we bowed our heads. He said God is good God is great, thank you for the food and I would think you even more.
If mom gets his ice cream for dessert and liberty and justice for all.
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby. I heard a woman remark. That's what's wrong with this country.
Kids today don't even know how to pray, asking God for ice cream why I never hearing this, my son, burst into tears and he asked me did I do wrong is God mad at me as I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job in God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and asked why and said I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer really. My son asked cross my heart. He said then in a theatrical whisper. He added, indicating the woman whose remark started the whole thing.
Too bad she never asked God for ice cream a little ice cream is good for the soul.
Sometime naturally I taught my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then he did something I will remember for the rest of my life. He picked up his Sunday and without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman with a big smile he told her here. This is for you ice cream is good for the soul. Sometimes my soul is good already. Don Harris of ABC reported just a couple weeks ago that nearly 60% of Americans claim that they pray every single day get all excited hearing that.
But let me tell you the rest of the story, the ones that top the last Jehovah witnesses second and the last Mormons for our evangelicals for their evangelicals, said Don Harris, older people are more likely to pray than younger people women pray more than men. The poor pray more than the rich Republicans pray more than Democrats. No comment just reporting what I read. Everybody knows that prayer is a huge topic in the Bible you can read the Bible without coming to the issue of talking to God in prayer. So I did a little search this week.
I tallied up all of the times. Pray, prayed, or praying or prayer or variation of that word appears in the Bible, 370 times the Bible mentions prayer huge it.
Obviously, then, must be huge to God, and it was one of the priorities of the early church we find in the list in chapter 2, verse 42. Now I know you read this title in your bulletin is the fourth week the same titles are like groundhog's day the movie when you wake up the church is the same sermon, but it's not the same sermon it's part one part two part three in today. Part four of on your mark get set grow because these are the four pillars that marked the priority system of the early church. But this final one on prayer. This is the one we feel most uneasy about personal guilt rises admitted whenever we hear the word prayer or the topic of prayer because all of us.
I venture to say would admit that we could use more of that activity in our lives and sometimes it's good, and sometimes it's not so good. I heard about it when the gospel first came to Africa and there was one particular village that had a church in the elders of the church taught the people to gather in the morning at church and then go out into the jungle to their own spot secluded and have their devotions. Well, eventually you could see where that person went because a path was marked out when you walk on grass and takes away the grass and you have a bald spot or a single track. As you can see these marks going out from the village out into the jungle, but you can also tell if a person was slacking off in his or her devotions because the undergrowth would come back. The grass would start filling in.
And so when one of the elders saw that he would simply walk over to the brother put his arm in a children's a brother that is glass growing in your path and I found that my own life that sometimes the grass grows in my path to God and not communicating with him as a priority like I should this morning that were going to do is move from general to specific work and I look generally at at how the early church prayed and what was their prayer life like so we want to look at a description of the prayer life of the early church generally, but then second, we want to move to something more specific and look at a depiction of their prayer life. Specifically actually go in to one of the prayer meetings of the early church and listen to them. Let's begin. Then with some verse 42 where we have been beginning now four weeks, we noticed a continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers in prayers. If I were to give you a description of the prayer activity of the first Christians I described in three ways. First, they prayed regularly, not sporadically regularly. It was the regular practice of this group of believers.
Every chapter in the book of acts brings that truth to the surface. I just want to take you back and have you notice a couple of things. Go back to chapter 1 and look beginning in verse 12 this is just after Jesus ascends into heaven, from the Mount of olives verse 12 then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, the Sabbath day's journey, and when they had entered. They went up into the upper room where they were staying, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alpheus Simon the zealot and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication are strong praying with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. At this point Peter stands up and says one of our 12 is gone. That's Judas Iscariot. We need to replace him look down verse 23 and they proposed to Joseph called parts of us was surnamed Justus, and Matthias and they prayed and said you oh Lord, who know the hearts of all show which of these two you have chosen. I just want you to imagine the scene of 120 brand-new believers all huddled together in some room somewhere in Jerusalem there leader has just left them ascended into heaven, and now they huddled together with one huge question what now what we do now and the only thing they knew to do and they do it regularly is gathered together and when they gather to pray as I read this, my mind went back to when I was 25 just turning 26 and we had started a Bible study at a nearby apartment complex and that Thursday night Bible study had grown to 100 people we didn't know what to do and I remember after one of the Bible studies somebody came right up in my face a couple people said now watch and I did not answer because I didn't know what to do. I did not assert a church I've never done this before so I immediately said now Monday night to pray. So we started a Monday night prayer meeting and that's the bulk of our question God now what would we do now, what do you want us to do now how would you have us proceed and that is essentially what the church did and continued to do. Dr. RA Torrey once wrote, pray for great things, expect great things and work for great things, but above all pray that was the early church above everything else. They prayed and they prayed regularly, not only in acts one, but they prayed next to on the day of Pentecost in acts chapter 3 verse one at the hour of prayer.
They go to the temple and ask for when persecution breaks out. They pray will read that in just a moment and in acts chapter 6 verse four. The leadership crystallizes their calling by saying, but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. They prayed regularly. Second thing I want you to notice is that they prayed customarily. Let me explain that one. We you notice in verse 42 of chapter 2 that at the end of that verse when it introduces this fourth priority of prayer. My version perhaps yours simply says and in prayers.
I discovered that in the original language.
There is a definite article before the noun prayers. It is Tice prosecute Kai's or prayers so it would best be translated most literally the continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine fellowship. The breaking of bread and in the prayers. Many scholars believe this refers to a known practice manner of praying or set of prayers that the apostles were used to. Okay, what was the apostles background. They were what they were Jewish and being Jewish people. They had ways of praying they had been brought up with, and now in this transitional period between Judaism and following the Jewish Messiah Freedom in Jesus Christ. They would naturally resort to the prayers that they were familiar with. So we notice in chapter 3, verse one now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour, that's three in the afternoon. That's the time of the evening sacrifice.
What is that tell us the early church were still observing the set times of prayer.
If you lived in Jerusalem. There were 39 in the morning, 12 noon and this one, 3 PM, and no doubt they would have prayed familiar articulations before the Lord.
No doubt they would have uttered the Shema water twice a day by fervent Jewish people Shema is that I have or hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. A compilation of verses out of Deuteronomy numbers. They probably would've prayed that Shimon is today for the 18 prayers that were uttered three times a day. These hours of the day by the faithful Jewish people. Then there were prescribed prayers.
The repairs for light prayers for darkness. Prayers for fire prayers for rain prayers for the new moon and prayers travel beautiful prayers all different scriptures out of the Old Testament and although that to you and perhaps even to me sounds a little bit ritualistic and stilted. When we hear that they were praying was cited prayers. The idea is to bring every aspect of life into the presence of God. Every aspect of life affect the Jewish Talmud said there's three things that can change the course of a person's life. Teshuvah said that, and to feel tension about repentance getting things right with God.
If you made a mistake you ask God to forgive you if you've done something with somebody else, you asked them. Let's clear the path and start over. That's teshuvah number two Seneca righteousness acts of goodness toward somebody else and never 3R heart felt prayers to God. Heartfelt prayers. So rather or whether or not they memorize these prayers that was recited prayers. It was heartfelt prayers that they customarily pray that the third thing I want you to notice about their prayer life generally, is that they prayed instinctively. It was their first response. It was the immediate reaction. The knee-jerk reaction something happened.
Let's pray, go with me to accept the 12 know about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church and then he killed James the brother of John with the sword is one of the apostles because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also now it was during the days of unleavened bread, so when he had arrested him.
He put him in prison delivered into four squads of soldiers to keep him intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
Please notice that that's how Christians responded to being hassled doesn't say Peter was put in prison and they started a letter writing campaign against the government or they picketed in front of Herod's house where they filed a class-action lawsuit know they they wanted real power. They wanted real results and they talk to God in the prayed that was what they did. That's the first thing they did. It's the response that's the first thing we should do.
Why is it that it is so often our last resort and it sort of like, there's nothing left to do but pray. I've heard that listener that there's nothing left to do except pray all you should started with that and it's almost like I tried everything I've exhausted my resources and now I have to trust God.
You see how weird that sounds, and typically it's only when it's really a big issue. I'm giving this when you as if you can handle the little stuff I suggest you bring the little stuff to God for turns into the big stuff as a widow became a G. Campbell Morgan. I've always loved the story and she said Dr. Morgan.
You think God would terribly minded if we brought to him.
The little things in our life. In prayer, and he smiled and said Mme., can you think of anything that's big to God, met a great perspective. Do you it's big to me. It's big, but is it really big to God is a light does not ever go all I wish you would ask me for that is going to bite his fingernails is cancer anymore difficult for God to heal than a cold no. It's all little stuff to him.
So this was the church.
Nothing more nothing less apostles doctrine fellowship, breaking bread and prayers you want to see their mission statement.
If you ask the leader say what you guys into they would say were end of this stuff. These four were into this may prayed the dependent I love it.
They didn't have a manual on how to start a church they didn't have anybody telling them you gotta go 501(c)(3) for the government you want to be a religious organization. They didn't have any kind of organized plan on how to start a singles ministry or pastors conferences or schools of ministry. They just raw light on God and this is what God was doing so. This is a description of their prayer life generally will hopefully church is just another part of your weekly routine, but rather something that helps you routinely grow and mature in Christ, especially in the area. Prayer that's over time we have today. This message from the series church who needs tell you how to get a copy of today's teaching here adjustable. But before we go Skip points to invite you an unforgettable trip to Israel. Lenny and I are taking a group to Israel in 2022 and we want to invite you to join us will visit places like Nazareth, the Jordan River. The Dead Sea and Jerusalem including the Temple Mount and the garden tomb. And not just a flyby look at the itinerary. Find out more about the email@example.com/see a BBQ Skip if you'd like a copy of today's study on your mark get set grow apart for just call 1-800-922-1888 order firstname.lastname@example.org will send you today's message on CD for just four dollars plus shipping you routine prayers. So we get to carve one that will change it give you more harm than good. Next I will examine how sincere prayer can help us growing place right here and connect with Skip vision presentation of connection you guys never changing and ever-changing time