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What Happens When Christians Pray Together | Connection with God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2024 3:00 am

What Happens When Christians Pray Together | Connection with God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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June 21, 2024 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 made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. 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 were 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. A 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. And poof, he turned into a woman.

She checked the map, walked 100 yards up the way, and walked over the bridge. Okay, so I just lost all the men. Well, there's clearly a right and a wrong way to pray. And we've all had times in life, and some of you are having that time right now where you're in a desperate situation. And you need God to intervene in your situation right now. And you need to understand that God can change circumstances. If necessary, he can change the course of nature through prayer. But 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. And 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 had 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're 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 the 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 a 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 a 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 five.

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 is 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 Herods 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 II. 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 am not an alcoholic.

I don't drink at all. And I have 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. Emails, phone calls and social media messages from listeners are so encouraging to us and they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Pastor Greg I'm a cop and listen to you every day from my police car. God bless you. Pastor Greg I listen to you all the time and even heard one of your sermons when you were only 24 years old. I appreciate that you speak the truth and your ministry has been instrumental in combating my anxiety. Thank you Greg. We're so grateful to hear how these studies and God's word are helping people.

Would you share your story? Email Pastor Greg. Send it to Greg at Harvest.org. That's Greg at Harvest.org. 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 a 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 it 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. But 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. Though all doors remain 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.

A lion and the lamb. And really what you are thinking about is what you are going to eat after church. Or there is some other thing that has entered your mind. How could they come to church wearing that.

Or whatever it is that is 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 will 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 a 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 is 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 is 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 and your car and you reach and 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 on A New Beginning as Pastor Greg continues his practical studies in the book of Acts. So many of us can think of people who prayed for us in our journey to the Lord. If you've not yet come to the Lord there may be people praying for you right now. Pastor Greg if someone is at the point where they want to make a change in their relationship with God what would you say to them?

I would say that God is just a prayer away. You know it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. Frankly it doesn't even take hours.

It can happen so quickly. It just starts with you saying to God I know I'm a sinner. I know that you love me. I know that you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sin and pay for those sins and then to rise again from the dead and I want him to come into my life. So here's my question to you.

Have you done that yet? Because Jesus who did die on that cross and rose again from the dead three days later is alive and standing at the door of your life right now and he's knocking and he's saying if you'll hear my voice and open the door I will come in. Why don't you just stop whatever it is you're doing and pray this prayer with me. Say Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner but I know that you are the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. I ask all of this in Jesus name.

Amen. Listen if you just prayed that prayer the Bible promises that God has heard your prayer and has answered that prayer. The Bible says that we will confess our sins to you and confess our sin. He's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So God bless you.

You've made the right decision. The decision to follow Jesus Christ. Yeah that's right and listen Pastor Greg would like to help you get started off right living for the Lord. He'd like to send you his New Believers Bible.

It features hundreds of helps for new believers and it's written in an easy to understand translation. So contact us for your copy of the New Believers Bible. Call us at 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Now if you missed any part of today's study from Pastor Greg you can catch up by listening online at harvest.org. Just look for the message called What Happens When Christians Pray Together.

Or subscribe to our podcast by going to Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any of the other podcast apps. Well Pastor Greg it's no overstatement to say that if our listeners didn't stand behind us with their support we just wouldn't be here each day. You know they're partners with us in ministry and we probably don't say thank you near enough. And it's their partnership that's helping us reach the next generation of young people. Isn't that right?

Really true. Thank you so much all of you that are faithful listeners to A New Beginning and a special thank you to those that support us especially on a regular basis. We call you Harvest Partners. What does that mean? That means that every month you say I will commit to sending this much. How much that is is entirely up to you but it really helps when we can depend on this because it enables us to respond to new opportunities. And new opportunities do come our way all the time.

We're always trying to break new ground. Go into new areas that maybe others have not gone into and reach them with a life-changing message of the gospel. You know the world needs Jesus Christ so badly.

And what did Jesus say? He said go into all the world and preach the gospel. So we're trying to do that. We take the great commission seriously at Harvest Ministries and so I'm asking you to partner with us and help us do that because whatever you invest is an investment in eternity and in doing so you'll be laying up for yourself treasures in heaven. So do your giving while you're living then you're knowing where it's gone. And right now we really appreciate their help because we're investing some of those resources in reaching the next generation of young people through not only a cartoon series but a brand new spiritual growth resource that has sort of grown out of that cartoon series. Isn't that right?

That's right Dave. You know I've always had a heart for kids. I think in many ways I'm a kid at heart still. You know I love to sit down with children, draw cartoons for them, teach them how to draw, engage them, get them to laugh, love to tell them Bible stories. I love to see them come to know Jesus.

A lot of times when I have a family come up to me and the adults are talking I'll notice a little kid may be standing there and I'll direct my attention to the child often and talk to them because they're so often overlooked and forgotten about and there they are. Their little hearts are open to the gospel. Jesus loved the little children.

He said you'd be better off if you had a millstone tied around your neck and you were thrown into the ocean than to cause one of my little ones to stumble. He said let the little children come unto me and forbid them not for of such as the kingdom of heaven. As the old song says Jesus loved the little children and we love them too and we want to reach them and we want them to know that God loves them and God has a plan for them.

You know so many kids today their lives are hard. So many are coming today from broken homes. So many of them have never heard about Jesus. They've never gone to church and so maybe we can reach them and I think you care about them too and if you do why don't you respond to this offer we're giving right now. It's the refreshed version of the Ben Born Again New Believers Growth Book and it's designed for younger kids and be generous and we'll take whatever you send to continue to reach this young generation with the message they really need to hear. The message of Jesus Christ.

Yeah that's right. Your investment is so pivotal so strategic right now and we want to thank you by sending the brand new Ben Born Again New Believers Growth Book. It helps kids build a strong foundation for their faith.

Your young one will learn why the Bible is important, why being involved in church matters, how to pray, how to know the will of God, how to resist temptation and a whole lot more. So get in touch with your investment and be sure to ask for the Ben Born Again New Believers Growth Book. You can call 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514. Or go online to harvest.org. Hey everybody I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Sunday at harvest.org and on our brand new app Harvest Plus which is available on your mobile tv devices. Download it now and you can watch Harvest at Home with Christians from around the world as we worship together and study God's word. So again join us for Harvest at Home at harvest.org or on Harvest Plus. 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 Laurie. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-21 05:31:33 / 2024-06-21 05:42:16 / 11

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