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What Happens When Christians Pray Together | The Forgotten Power of Prayer

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 24, 2022 3:00 am

What Happens When Christians Pray Together | The Forgotten Power of Prayer

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 24, 2022 3:00 am

Ever lose your electricity at home? It’s surprising how much we depend on it. We know the power’s out but, when we walk into a room, what do we automatically reach for? The light switch. Muscle memory. We take that connection for granted. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the connection we each have with God through prayer. And when we ignore that connection, it starts to feel like the lights are out in our faith. Good encouragement coming from the book of Acts today.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.

Sign up at harvest.org. Is there something troubling you right now? Commit that to the Lord in prayer. Yet for many, prayer is the last resort. Well, we've tried everything, and all we can do now is is go pray.

What are you talking about? That's the first thing you should do. Pray about everything. Pastor Greg Laurie reminds us God can make the impossible possible, even probable, maybe even unequivocal. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

With God, all things are possible. Ever lose your electricity at home? It's surprising how much we depend on it, right? We know the power's out, but when we walk into a room, what do we automatically reach for?

The light switch, muscle memory. We take that connection for granted. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the connection we each have with God through prayer, and when we ignore that connection, it starts to feel like the lights are out in our faith.

Good encouragement coming from the book of Acts today. Heard a story about three guys who are making their way through the forest together. They came to a large raging river, and they needed to get to the other side, so they decided to pray. The first guy prayed, Lord, I pray that you will give me the strength to cross the river. Suddenly, boom, he had bulging biceps.

He swims across the river. It took him about four hours. He almost drowned twice, but he did make it to the other side.

The second guy's watching this. He's thinking, oh, okay, I'm going to pray a little differently. He prayed, Lord, give me the strength and the tools to cross the river. Boom, he too had bulging biceps, but he also had a rowboat. Now it took him about two hours to get across.

He capsized twice, but he did make it. The third guy watching all of this said, Lord, give me the strength, give me the tools, and give me the intelligence to cross the river. Poof, he turned into a woman.

She checked the map, walked 100 yards up the way, and walked over the bridge. I just lost all the men. Well, there's clearly a right and a wrong way to pray. We've all had times in life, and some of you are having that time right now where you're in a desperate situation. You need God to intervene in your situation right now. You need to understand that God can change circumstances. If necessary, he can change the course of nature through prayer. Most of all, what changes in prayer is you. You're changed through prayer. God often will allow hardship and difficulty, challenge and need, sometimes even tragedy, so he can reveal himself to us and put his glory on display.

Because really when we pray, we're acknowledging our weakness. This is hard for a lot of people because we think, I can figure this out. I can resolve this conflict. I can save my own family. I can get everything resolved.

I'll do it, and it doesn't work. And we have to call on God and say, Lord, I'm weak. I need your help.

Come through for me. This maybe is a little harder for men than it is for women sometimes. And why is it it's harder for men? Because we're stupid.

Remember my joke in the beginning? But listen, guys, consider this for a moment. Who is the strongest man who ever walked this earth? Don't say Superman. He's not real. Samson isn't the right answer.

Most of you got it. It's Jesus. Strongest man who ever lived. He was omnipotent.

He was all powerful. And yet we see Jesus spending hours in prayer, calling on his father. So if Jesus felt he needed to pray, how much more should we be praying? Here in Acts 12 is a story about the power of prayer. Things are looking very dim for the believers at this moment.

And it looked like it was going to be the worst ending imaginable. But God changed things for them. Now at this point, historically in Acts, a new wave of persecution has hit the church. The first wave was Saul of Tarsus hunting down Christians, arresting them, and executing them. It effectively come to an end with a conversion of Saul. And he is now being molded into the man God wants him to be.

And he will dominate the second section of the book of Acts as the apostle Paul. So now Herod comes back with a wave of persecution against the church. But now we also see that the church has sort of shifted gears.

If they were in first gear, they are in second or third gear now. Because now they understand they are to take the gospel to everybody, not just Jews. So the Lord showed Simon Peter that he was to go with the gospel to others.

And he brought this centurion named Cornelius and Simon Peter together. So everything is in high gear. Everything is moving in the right direction. And the devil attacks again. Because Satan hates it when we are advancing. He hates it when we are making a difference. And he especially hates it when we are pulling people out of hell and having them change their membership to heaven.

Right? So here is the story. One of my favorite stories in the Bible.

I know I say that about a lot of stories. But this really is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Acts 12 verse 1. Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some of the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword because he saw that it pleased the Jews. He proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now this was during the days of unleavened bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him into prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him to the people at Passover.

But I love verse 5 underline the whole verse. Peter was therefore kept in prison but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. Constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. So the first thing King Herod does is he murders James. This is James of James and John.

These guys did everything together. They were close brothers. And this must have been so devastating for John to lose his beloved brother. Remember it was James and John that wanted to be seated on the right and left hand of Jesus when he came into glory. It was James and John who were nicknamed the sons of thunder.

Now one of the sons of thunder has passed into heaven. And this is just showing the wickedness of Herod. You know sometimes we get confused because we see the name Herod so many times in the New Testament. And you need to understand there were a number of Harrods all related to each other.

This was a devilish dynasty. First there was Herod the Great. He wasn't called that because he was a great man but because he was a great builder. There are structures in Israel today still standing built by Herod the Great like his retreat called Masada. And he also rebuilt the second temple.

He spent over 40 years doing so. So he was a man who was very paranoid. He had been declared by Roman authorities to be the king of the Jews. So when those wise men came from the east saying we want to worship him who has been born the king of the Jews that was the most inflammatory rhetoric you could use with a paranoid tyrant like Herod the Great.

And of course he gave the order to execute all those baby boys born in Bethlehem. So that was the first Herod. Now the Herod that we are reading about in this story is Herod Agrippa I. He is the grandson of Herod the Great. He has already martyred James. Now he intends to martyr Peter.

And then later Paul would stand before Herod Agrippa too. This is a classic example of the sins of the parents being visited on the children. I don't believe in what some describe as a generational curse where there is a curse on your family and you need to break that curse. But I do believe godless and godly behavior can be passed on as a legacy. And we have seen it in families where it just seems like every generation is as wicked if not more wicked than a generation before. And we also know that if you have been raised in an alcoholic home it is far more likely you might become an alcoholic. If you come from a divorced home it is more likely that you yourself will get divorced. In fact some people will even excuse their behavior. Well it runs on my family.

This is the way we are. Well I was raised in an alcoholic home. I was raised in a home where a lot of divorce happened. I'm not an alcoholic.

I don't drink at all. And I've been married over 47 years. So God can change the narrative. God can change the narrative in your family. He can break that cycle of sin. But here I'd say we're a wicked bunch. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.

Whenever you send us a letter, text, an email, or post a comment on social media we read every word. Pastor Greg I want to say thank you for your series on anxiety and worry. Just recently I found out that one of the facilities I work at is closing leaving me and my co-workers out of a job.

I'm uncertain what this outcome will do to our family and our financial situation. Your series however on anxiety and worry has helped me to have more faith in God and know that He is in control of the situation. Thank you again for your ministry and for what you do. It's encouraging to know that the resources at A New Beginning are helping listeners. If you'd like to share your story, call us and let us know. Call 866-871-1144. That's 866-871-1144. Well we're in Acts chapter 12 today as Pastor Greg presents his message, What Happens When Christians Pray Together?

Let's continue. So Herod gives the order to arrest Simon Peter. He is delivered to four squads of soldiers to keep him. He's behind two gates, chained to two guards, and guarded by 14 more. Now normally you would be chained maybe to one soldier if you were a high risk.

But to have a soldier on each arm. By the way I think both of those soldiers heard the gospel right. Hey you get chained to a preacher you're going to hear a sermon right. And I'm sure he shared the gospel with those men. And so here now is this bleak situation. James is already dead.

Now Peter is surely going to be next. So what did the church do? We read these words. So the church organized a protest and stormed Herod's palace. No actually that's not in there. Oh no here it is.

The church had a boycott of all products made in Rome. No we don't read that either. Here's what we read. Again verse five. Constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. The wall doors remained closed. One door was open. The door of prayer.

The door into the presence of God. Yet for many prayers the last resort. Well we've tried everything and all we can do now is go pray.

What are you talking about? That's the first thing you should do. Pray about everything.

That's what Paul tells us in Philippians 4. He says don't worry about anything. Pray about everything. And the peace of God that passes all human understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Nothing is too small to pray about.

Is there something troubling you right now? Commit that to the Lord in prayer. Nothing is too big to pray about. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. With God all things are possible so the church wisely went to prayer.

Yeah. It's been said Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. Now here are some vital insights into how to pray effectively. The title of my message is what happens when Christians pray together. What happens when Christians pray together?

A lot as shown in this story. Here's point number one. The prayer that has power is the one that is offered to God. The prayer that has power is the one that is offered to God. Verse five again. Constant prayer was offered to God.

You say what? Isn't all prayer offered to God? Well not necessarily. Did you know it's entirely possible to pray a prayer with no thought of God whatsoever? Oh we've all done it. I mean even when we worship. What is worship? Worship is prayer set to song. Have you ever had your mind wander in worship? You're thinking oh Lord I love you so much. The lion and the lamb and really what you're thinking about is what you're going to eat after church. Or there's some other thing that's entered your mind. How could they come to church wearing that?

Or whatever it is that's happening. And you may have no thought of God at all. Jesus told the story of a Pharisee who prayed thus with himself. Which is a King James way of saying his prayer wasn't heard by God. It was sort of a performance. And sometimes prayers can be a performance. I think it's a great thing by the way when Christians are in restaurants and their meal comes and they say grace together. Do that.

Absolutely do that. Just don't make a show out of it. You know don't stand up and say Lord we thank thee for this food today. Hallelujah.

People are like what's going on over there. Oh and here's another tip. Don't pray too long. Why do some people feel they have to pray for all the missionaries in the world when the food comes? Can we do that? After let's eat the food.

Don't let the food get cold anyway. But it can be a performance. You know Isaiah said I saw the Lord sitting on his throne. He was high and lifted up and his glory filled the temple. And I said woe is me. But sometimes a prayer it'll be more like look at me. Look at how long I can pray. Look at how eloquently I pray.

Look at me. That's not what prayer is about. Here's the real objective of prayer. It's not to get God to do what I want him to do. It's to get my will in alignment with Him.

Right. So in alignment with God. Jesus said in John 15 if you abide in me and my words abide in you you shall ask what you will and it shall be done for you. Another translation more from the original Greek would go as follows. Jesus speaking if you maintain a living communion with me and my word is at home in you you will ask at once for yourself whatever your heart desires and it will be yours.

So we gravitate toward the latter end of that statement. Oh yeah. Whatever my heart desires. Awesome.

Wait hold on. You have to maintain a living communion with Him and His word needs to be at home with you. So get in alignment with the will of God. You say well how do you know the will of God?

By careful study of the Scripture. Nothing lies outside of the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God. That is why Jesus and the Lord's Prayer taught us to pray. Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread and so forth. But notice in that prayer we should pray and it's a model for prayer not just a prayer to pray. Pray in this way. Pray in this manner. Your kingdom come your will be done. Effectively I say Lord this is what I think I need.

This is what I know I want. But if this is somehow outside of your will please overrule it and veto it. Right. That's a good thing to pray. Don't be afraid to pray that. Don't be afraid to pray that. Because coming back to James and John what was their desire? Lord we want to be on your right and your left hand. Jesus said not going to do that for you. Thank God for unanswered prayers. Who was on the right and left hand of Jesus when He died on the cross?

Two criminals. You didn't want to be there. Sometimes God will say no and I will come back to that in a moment for your own good. Alright. So principle number two. They prayed with passion and persistence. They prayed with passion and persistence. Constant prayer.

Underline those two words. Constant prayer was offered to God. This phrase constant prayer could be translated earnest prayer. Another way you could translate it is stretched outwardly. Have you ever reached for something or dropped something in between the seat in your car and you are reaching there.

You can't get it you know. That is how they were praying. It is just we can reach out a little bit further.

We are not going to give up. Another way you could translate this is they prayed with agony. It is the same word used of Jesus in Luke 22 44 when in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed more earnestly. This is not a flippant oh Lord help old Peter out. This is oh Lord deliver Peter.

Oh Lord don't let Peter die. Lord we are calling on you with passion with persistence. We need your help Lord. You know much of our prayer has no power in it because there is no heart in it. And if we put so little heart in our prayers we should not expect God to put much heart in answering them. So they are praying passionately. Persistently. Constant prayer was offered.

And this is another problem. Sometimes we pray for something once and we don't have that prayer answered in the affirmative and we conclude it is not the will of God. Why do you think that? Keep praying. Why? I prayed for my husband to come to Christ and I prayed it once and he didn't come to Christ so whatever. No no keep praying.

Why? Because you know it is the will of God to save people. So when you are praying for someone to be saved you are praying in alignment with God's will.

Because Scripture says God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Don't stop praying for that husband that doesn't know the Lord. Don't stop praying for that wife that needs Jesus. Don't stop praying for that son or that daughter or that grandchild. Keep praying.

Jesus said knock and the door will be open. Seeking you shall find. Ask and it shall be given.

And in the original language it is keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. Pray with persistence.

Don't give up. My mother came to the Lord toward the end of her life. I prayed for her for 30 years plus. That is a long time to pray but thank God that prayer was eventually answered.

So don't give up and keep praying. Pastor Greg Laurie with a good example from his own experience. Great encouragement today here on A New Beginning as Pastor Greg continues his practical studies in the book of Acts. If you're enjoying these studies be sure to drop Pastor Greg a note and let him know. You can be reached at Greg at harvest dot org. Well Pastor Greg this month we're inviting our listeners to consider becoming a partner with us in ministry. We're inviting them to become a harvest partner. The big question is why?

Why would they want to use some of their resources in that way? Because you're investing in the kingdom of God. Jesus said don't lay up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust can corrupt nor thieves can break in and steal.

Then he added these words for where your treasure is there will your heart be also. You know we give toward what we value. So if you go over your checkbook or over your expenses and your credit card expenditures you know what matters to you.

As you review those expenses are you investing in the one thing that can never be taken from you. The one thing that will be a treasure waiting for you in eternity and that one thing is investment in the work of the kingdom investment in ministry investment in reaching people with the gospel in teaching them the word of God. Listen that's exactly what you're doing when you send a gift to Harvest Ministries but I'm going to take it up a notch and I'm going to say would you consider not just sending a gift to us but would you consider becoming a harvest partner. What's a harvest partner? That is someone who stands with us monthly and gives a reoccurring gift. Now the advantage of this for us is when they do so we have a sense of what income is coming in that we can invest in reaching other people with the gospel. It means we can respond to that new area we could reach out in via radio and we can respond to another opportunity that comes our way. So pray about that and make some spiritual investments and become a harvest partner and in advance let me say thank you so much for considering it.

Yeah that's right it really is an investment that can change someone's life. We receive so many letters from people who found the Lord through Pastor Greg's teaching in God's word and that kind of impact is only possible through listener support. We're looking for new harvest partners who will join us because we have new listeners who need to hear the gospel joining us each day.

Would you let the Lord use you in this way? We have some special ways to say thank you. This month we're sending Pastor Greg's book Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon. So let us know we can count you in. Call us at 1-800-821-3300.

We can take your call anytime around the clock. Again dial 1-800-821-3300 or go online to this special webpage harvest.org partner. Well next time more insight on the power of productive prayer from our study in the book of Acts chapter 12. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Lord. Hey everybody thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and to find out how to know God personally go to harvest.org and click on know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 10:46:47 / 2023-03-06 10:56:00 / 9

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