I don’t think it is coincidence in the Book of Acts that on every other page we see the mighty acts of God and the bold prayers of his people. God moves in mysterious ways. He is no vending machine whereby prayers prayed in guarantee the desired output. But he is mighty and he does love us and we tap into untold power when we pray.
The early church knew this. Acts 12:5 says, “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” (Acts 12:5). You knew that something big was going to happen after this verse, didn’t you? One thing earnest prayer doesn’t do is nothing. God rescued Peter and he struck Herod dead. The early church knew the power of prayer.
When we gather, prayer is not a perfunctory exercise or an antiquated tradition. It is not a practice reserved for those with a lot on their minds. We are enjoying communion with the God of the universe! Prayer is a doorway for us to adore our God. We cannot say enough about his character and his works (Ps. 145). And communion with God cannot help but remind us that we are sinful people in the presence of the one who is Holy (Isa. 6:5). Prayer is how we confess our sins, repent and ask God to forgive and cleanse us (1 Jn. 1:9). Because God has done so much, prayer is a means of giving thanks to God. A life short on prayer is probably a life short on thanksgiving. Prayer is where we ask of the one who already knows what we need, but who never tires of hearing us.
On any given Sunday there are folks at home praying before the day begins that God would meet us. There are families fresh off of conflict praying for God’s help to reorient themselves. There are men and women gathered before the service praying that God’s will would be done in the life of our church. Many of the songs we sing are prayers set to music. We pray to give God thanks for his great salvation, abundant provision, his Word and his presence. We pray that we would have ears to hear and we pray that we would be doers of God’s Word when we hear. We pray to thank God for Jesus Christ, that his kingdom would extend into the world. We pray for local and global missionaries that the gospel would be proclaimed and lives would be changed. We pray for the lost known and unknown to us. And when we are bustling about getting ready to head home, we hear of a need and we say, “Let’s pray.”
The early church knew the power of prayer. Each time we see them they are devoting themselves to it (Acts 1:14; 2:42, 13:1-3). Oh, how I want to be more like this!
Nearly ten years ago I read Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper. In his book he lists all the things he sees the New Testament church praying for. For a guy like me who loses track of what I can pray for this was a big help. So I typed it out and taped it in the inside front and back flaps of my Bible. I would read Scripture and then spend time praying according to some of these points. What I still love about it is how simple it is to help push against the status quo in my own soul. I commend it to you as a way to foster more communion with God. So Grace Covenant Church, on any given Sunday, on this Sunday, let us pray.
This post is the fourth in the series On Any Given Sunday, which highlights the significance and value of each part of our Sunday service.