Category Archives: Prayer

Constantly Together In Prayer  –  A study of prayer from Acts

“Prayer only makes sense when you have quit trying to do ministry alone. The following five passages were selected to provide a window into the prayer life of the early church in the book of Acts. 

97262076_640While there is not time to look at any of these passages at length, we will use them like a scrapbook to look through in order to get an idea of how and why they prayed.

Acts 2:42 
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

The first fellowship was eagerly and persistently engaged in the critical duty of prayer. Understanding the sense of loss His disciples were feelings as they anticipated His leaving, the Lord Jesus Christ had promised in John 14:13-14 that “whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the  on. if you ask me anything in My name, I will do it.” 

The early church took that promise as the source of God’s provision for all their needs, and they relentlessly pursued divine help. Praying together was a hallmark of the early church:

(Acts 1:14) “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

(Acts 1:24) “Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen”

(Acts 4:24-37) “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. {25} You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? {26} The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ {27} Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. {28} They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. {29} Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your
word with great boldness. {30} Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 

Acts 4:24-31 Notice the four parts of the believers’ prayer…
THEIR PRAISE v. 24 Sovereign Lord…you made the heaven and the earth and the sea…It is always appropriate to remember Who God is before we address any situation. 

SCRIPTURE w. 25-26 Quote from Psalm 2:1-2. They were comforted in that their opposition had been foretold by David. They were, in fact, a fulfillment of prophecy. Satan’s efforts only succeeded in fulfilling God’s eternal plan. 

THE PROBLEM w. 27-28 Their opposition was because they belonged to Jesus.

THEIR REQUEST w. 29-30 They did not ask for protection or a place to hide, but instead asked for even more courage to boldly proclaim God’s truth – the very thing they had been ordered not to do.

GOD’S RESPONSE v.31 God’s answer was not long in coming for the building was shaken and they spoke the word of God more boldly.

Acts 6:1-4
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. {2} So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. {3} Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them {4} and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.””

Prayer and ministry of the word were inseparably linked. God’s people must always seek that marvelous harmony of Bible study and prayer. 

Bible study without prayer can lead to self-righteousness and spiritual dryness; Prayer without Bible study can lead to a perpetual condition of spiritual immaturity.

The apostles wisely recognized:
· that hurry and over commitment are the enemies of spirituality
· that we can do more than pray after we have prayed, but we cannot do more than pray until we have prayed! 

Still for most of us there is a great feeling that when we pray we are doing nothing, and this feeling makes us give undue importance to work, sometimes even to the hurrying over or even to the neglect of prayer. 

Like the early church, we must remember not to rest too much on the arm of flesh and to make of first Importance the practice of relying first and foremost upon the arm of God.

In the words of A.W. Tozer, “God wants us to take care of the depth of our ministry; He will take care of the breadth of our ministry.”

Acts 9:40-41 
“Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. {41} He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.”

As he had seen the Lord do when He raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:40), Peter sent them all out of the room where Dorcas’ body lay. He would not put on a display before the crowd that would draw all attention to him; and wanted a quiet place to pray. 

Some might think that Peter, who had been involved in many healings should simply have commanded Dorcas to rise. He knew, however, the source of his power and presumed nothing about the will of God.

(Acts 12:1-12) “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. {2} He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. {3} When he saw that
this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. {4} After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers
each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. {5} So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. {6} The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. {7} Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. {8} Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and
sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. {9} Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. {10} They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. {11} Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.” {12} When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.”

While Peter was kept in prison, the church responded as they usually did when facing persecution: fervent prayer. They knew the battle was spiritual in nature and that only God had the power to release Peter. 

The church poured the maximum effort they were capable of into their prayers for Peter. They knew the truth James was later to express, that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). 

What would you conclude to be some of their basic beliefs about God and about prayer?
1. They relentlessly pursued divine help according to the promise of Jesus. 
2. They believed God would protect them, so they prayed for boldness instead! 
3. They understood the premier importance of bath prayer and the Apostles’ words. 
4. They knew God was the source of power and prayer was not for the sake of show. 
5. They prayed with maximum effort, knowing their battle was truly a spiritual one.

· Stephen prayed as he was being stoned (Acts 7:55-60). 
· Peter and John prayed for the Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17)
· Saul of Tarsus prayed after his conversion (Acts 9:11). 
· Cornelius prayed that God would show him how to be saved (Acts 10:1-4)
· Peter was on the housetop praying when God told him how to be the answer to Cornelius’ prayers (Acts 10:9).
· The church at Antioch fasted and prayed before sending out Barnabas and Paul (Acts 13:1-3; and note 14:23). 
· It was at a prayer meeting in Philippi that God opened Lydia’s heart (Acts 16:13)
· another prayer meeting in Philippi opened the prison doors (Acts 16:25ff). 
· Paul prayed for his friends before leaving them (Acts 20:36; 21:5). 
· In the midst of a storm, he prayed for God’s blessing (Acts 27:35)
· after a storm, he prayed that God would heal a sick man (Acts 28:8). 

In almost every chapter in Acts you find a reference to prayer, and the book makes it very clear that something happens when God’s people pray.

This is certainly a good lesson for the church today. Prayer is both the thermometer and the thermostat of the local church; for the “spiritual temperature” either goes up or down, depending on how God’s people pray. 

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, said, “Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.” In the Book of Acts, you see prayer accomplishing all of these things.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 27, 2022 in Prayer


Faithful Prayers – James 5:13-18

James closes his letter as he began it, with a call to prayer.

In James 1:5, after an opening challenge about joy in trials (which can easily be shown as a description of prayers of praise), he urges believers specifically to pray for the wisdom they need in becoming mature. James informs us that God will give generously that kind of wisdom without blaming us for our lack. The sole requirement is a faithful trust in God’s supply.

Later, in 4:1-3, James addresses the kind of selfish prayers that God does not answer. His confrontation is unmistakable: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (4:3 niv). Prayer is an essential tool, but it cannot be used to manipulate God.

James uses his closing words to describe effective prayer. He details prayer in several forms (praise, intercession, confession) and connects prayer with several other important spiritual disciplines (healing, confession, anointing, correction, praise, and mutual forgiveness).

If we can say that James’s letter summarizes the work of faith, his conclusion focuses on faith’s finest work—believers effective in prayer.

13  Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.

There are many responses to trouble. Some of us worry; some of us vow revenge against those who have caused the trouble; some of us let anger burn inside us. Some grumble.

But James says the correct response to trouble is to pray (see also Psalm 30; 50:15; 91:15). This is not necessarily a prayer for deliverance from the trouble, but for the patience and strength to endure it.

There are three main reasons for not praying when we realize we are in trouble: ignorance, arrogance, and shame.

If we do not know that God wants us to pray when we are in trouble, we are simply ignorant of Scripture.

If we do not pray when we are in trouble because we are trusting in our own resources to get ourselves out, we are being arrogant.

And sometimes we may want to pray but are ashamed because the trouble we are in is our own fault.

James gives permission and encouragement to those who are ignorant. He urges submission to those who are arrogant. And he reminds those who are ashamed that God is full of compassion and mercy (5:11). To all of us he commends prayer.

Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

James says that if we are fortunate enough to be happy, we should thank God by singing songs of praise (see also 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

Because our praise is directed to God, singing is actually another form of prayer.

These songs of praise can be the formal Psalms from the Old Testament, or spontaneous personal creations that express some aspect of God’s character or our response to him.

The quicker we are to blame God for misfortune, the slower we are to praise God when good things happen. Some of us take our happiness too lightly. We accept it as if it is our due or simply the product of our efforts. In happiness, it is easy to forget God.

But a real appreciation of happy times will lead us to recognizing their source. If prayer is to be our constant communication with God, then happy times should naturally add rhythm and music to our expressions of thanks and praise to him.

14  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

One characteristic of the early church was its concern over and care for the sick. Here James encourages the sick person to call for the elders of the church for counseling and prayer. The elders were spiritually mature men who were responsible for overseeing local churches (see 1 Peter 5:1-4). These men would pray over the sick person, calling upon the Lord for healing. Then they would anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Jesus himself instructed us to pray in his name (John 14:14). As the elders pray for this one who is sick, they are to voice clearly that the power for healing resides in the name of Jesus.

Many of the details in this passage have to be consciously applied in our own age. James wrote to people in rather small communities, bound tightly by language and culture. We live in communities marked by isolation—even from people living next door. The early church practiced house calls.

Contact, prayer, appeals to the presence and power of God, expectations of God’s direct intervention, and healing were part of daily life. The life of faith really was a life-style, not a weekend component of a compartmentalized life that fits God into one’s weekly schedule for a couple of hours on Sunday mornings.

A literal practice by church leaders of James’s guidelines for healing prayer would make churches much more personal and effective.

The sick person here is incapacitated physically. Anointing was often used by the early church in their prayers for healing. In Scripture, oil was both a medicine (see the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37) and a symbol of the Spirit of God (as used in anointing kings; see 1 Samuel 16:1-13).

Thus the oil may have been a sign of the power of prayer, and it may have symbolized the setting apart of the sick person for God’s special attention.

More important than the oil itself, however, the key function of the elders is their prayer for the sick person, as evidenced in the verses that follow.

5:15 The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.

The prayer must be from the heart, sincere, with trust in and obedience to God behind it, and with no doubting, as in 1:5-8. The believing is the role of the elders who are praying, not the sick person’s (nothing is said about his or her faith). It is possible that the sick person’s faith is exercised in calling the elders. Also, if there is need for confession, the elders will be able to minister to the individual. The process insures dependence of believers on each other.

The Lord will raise him up.

Not the elders or the oil, but the Lord himself does the healing. Does this mean that every prayer for healing guarantees that God will make the sick person well?

It must be emphasized here that the prayer offered is a prayer offered in faith—not only the faith that believes God can heal, but also the faith that expresses absolute confidence in God’s will. A true prayer of faith will acknowledge God’s sovereignty in his answer to that prayer.

It is not always God’s will to heal those who are ill (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). A prayer for healing must be qualified with a recognition that God’s will is supreme.

It is shameful to find Christians hesitating to pray because God might not heal the way they wish. It is not our role either to decide how God will answer our prayers or to excuse him if our human desires are not met.

Trusting God only as long as he cooperates with our plans is no trust at all. The prayer offered in faith gives God a free hand to work. Because believers have an eternal viewpoint, we can claim the absolute certainty of this promise—God can and will heal, though not always in this world.

In the afterlife God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4 niv).

To limit God’s answers only to this world would indicate that we are trying to make God submit to our needs and desires in this life rather than submitting to him.

There would no longer be the internal conflicts, and fellowship would be strong and supportive. Those who are sick may be healed (nrsv), and the church would be unified in its prayer efforts.

The recent emphasis on small groups within churches has risen largely from a need to recapture some of these basic features of life in the body of Christ that have been neglected.

When Christians are really working to “carry each other’s burdens,” the world does take note, and we come closer to fulfilling “the law of Christ” (see Galatians 6:2 niv). Loving your neighbor as yourself does include, above all else, praying for him or her.


Christ has made it possible for us to go directly to God for forgiveness. But confessing our sins to one another still has an important place in the life of the church.

If we have sinned against an individual, we must ask that person to forgive us.

If our sin has affected the church, we must confess it publicly.

If we need loving support as we struggle with a sin, we should confess the sin to those who are able to provide that support.

If after confessing a private sin to God we still don’t feel his forgiveness, we may wish to confess that sin to a fellow believer and hear him or her assure us of God’s pardon.

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

The prayer is effective because the person who is praying is righteous. The person is not sinless, but he or she has confessed known sins to God and is completely committed to him and trying to do his will. Again, we can say that the righteous person gets what he or she wants in prayer because he wants what God wants.

The Christian’s most powerful resource is communication with God through prayer. It is the instrument of healing and forgiveness and is a mighty weapon for spiritual warfare. The results are often greater than we thought were possible.

Some people see prayer as a last resort, to be tried when all else fails. Our priorities are the reverse of God’s. Prayer should come first.

Some see prayer as a way to obligate God to give whatever they claim in faith. God is pleased to use our prayers to accomplish his purposes and he delights in answering our needs, but he is never bound by our prayers.

God’s power is infinitely greater than ours, so it only makes sense to rely on it—especially because God encourages us to do so.

17  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
18  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Prayer is indeed powerful—remember Elijah? The story is found in 1 Kings 17:1-18:46. Elijah had great power in prayer. A drought came as a sign to evil King Ahab of Israel that the idol Baal did not have power over the rain, God did. And when Elijah prayed, it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Then he prayed for rain, and the heavens gave rain (niv).



Leave a comment

Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Prayer


Answering the prayer of Jesus

 mp3iconYouTube JesusIsLordofthisWebSite placeforyou2 575273_579331012148169_1163921425_n

 Eric/Wendy’s November 2015 newsletter from Kigali, Rwanda


A little fellow wished to pray but had never been taught how. He, thus, began to recite his ABCs as he knelt. A man passing by overheard the lad and inquired, ‘Son, what’s going on?’ ‘I’m saying my prayers,’ replied the boy. ‘But why the ABCs?’ the man asked. ‘Sir,’ came the answer, ‘I don’t know how to go about praying, so I thought if I said my ABCs God would take what he needed and spell out the words to match my wants.’

With childlike innocence, this little fellow believed in prayer.

Jesus also believed in prayer. In fact, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John compositely recorded several occasions where Jesus went apart to pray. For example, all of John 17 projects a prayer of Jesus which may be divided into four segments: (1) For Himself (17:1-5); (2) For the apostles (17:6-19); (3) For the church (17:20-23); and again, (4) For the apostles (17:24-26).

Let’s focus on ‘Christ’s prayer for the church’ (17:20-23). ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.’

This pulsates with a plea for harmony. According to ‘Christ’s prayer for the church,’ harmony is a challenging possibility. He prayed that all who believe on him through the apostles’ word might ‘be one…be one in us….be one…be made perfect in one.’

In each of these petitions, the subjunctive mood of the Greek language was used, indicating an objective reality! Harmony among Christians is more than an illusive dream or noble sentiment. Encouragingly, it is a very real possibility.

A case in point to prove such would be the first century church of Jerusalem (Acts 2:42, 44-46). They were united in their support of fearless Gospel preaching (4:24-29). They were united in their benevolent spirit and sacrificial care (4:32). They were also united in their support of church discipline (5:1-12). By example, they established the possibility of harmony existing in the church.

Therefore, the subject of harmony among Christians should be approached with a positive attitude. When it comes to unity in the church, negative slurs [‘Well, that sounds good,’ or ‘It would be nice,’ or ‘That is just youthful idealism’] should be CANNED. After all, success comes in CANS not CAN’TS!

If Jesus’ prayer for the church implied the possibility of harmony in the church, it is a possibility; yea, it is a possibility that challenges every congregation and heart of the church.  — condensed from Harmony Among the Heirs of Heaven, Dan Winkler

Children in Church

  • Three-year-old, Reese: ‘Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is his name. Amen.’
  • A little boy was overheard praying: ‘Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.’
  • A Sunday school class was studying the Ten Commandments. They were ready to discuss the last one. The teacher asked if anyone could tell her what it was. Susie raised her hand, stood tall, and quoted, ‘Thou shall not take the covers off the neighbor’s wife.’
  • Jason sobbed in the back seat all the way home. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, he replied, ‘That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.’
  • I had been teaching my three-year old daughter, Caitlin, the Lord’s Prayer for several evenings at bedtime. She would repeat the lines of the prayer after me. Finally, she decided to go solo. I listened with pride as she carefully enunciated each word right up to the end of the prayer. ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ she prayed, ‘but deliver us some email. Amen.’
  • One four-year-old prayed, ‘And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.’
  • A Sunday school teacher asked her children, as they were on the way to church service, ‘And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?’ One bright girl replied, ‘Because people are sleeping.’
  • Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together. Joel giggled, sang, and talked. Finally, big sister had had enough. ‘You’re not supposed to talk in church.’ ‘Why? Who’s going to stop me?’ Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, ‘See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.’
  • A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. They began to argue over who got the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. ‘If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.” Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, ‘Ryan, you play the part of Jesus!’
  • A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. ‘Daddy, what happened to him?’ the boy asked. ‘He died and went to Heaven,’ replied the Dad. The boy thought a moment and then said, ‘Did God throw him back down?’
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Prayer

%d bloggers like this: