Sunday, 15 May 2016

Corporate Prayer - Acs 4:23 - 31

Having looked at Nehemiah, Jeremiah, and David in prayer, as well as the Lord's prayer, we now look at an example of the early church praying together. They were united in response to a threat - Peter & John told not to speak about Jesus. This was a threat against the very purposes of God.

Just like Nehemiah their prayer starts with God (v24) - God who is sovereign and creator of things seen and unseen. They recognise that God speaks (v25) - by His Spirit down through the ages and still speaks today. Also God anoints (v27) - God has purposes and Jesus came to fulfil those purposes. They recognise Jesus as the ultimate anointed one, the Lord through whom everything makes sense.

God has also anointed various people down the ages, and continues to anoint Christ followers today. So they call on God who enables (v29), making a direct request for God to empower them to be able to speak up for Jesus. Their united response to the threat was to make themselves available, and call on His ability for them to be bold in speech, confirmed by supernatural works of God.

Interestingly they do not pray for the threatening rulers or powers to be afflicted, overcome or removed in any way. Instead they would rather pray for healing works! These early Christians understood the times they were in. The quote of Psalm 2 is a poem that talks of nations conspiring against God. Yet God will have an anointed one with a special Father-Son relationship with God. He will be set as Lord of all, to inherit the nations. Once set as Lord the clock would be ticking: one day all rebellion would be quashed. The early Christians new that Jesus is set as this Lord (the resurrection proving it), and so now that clock is ticking.

They also understood that during these times God's Spirit is poured out to enable them to declare that Jesus is Lord, and to demonstrate His Kingdom with signs, healings, and wonders ... the things we include in our term 'Kingdom Life'. Dealing with powers and authorities was ultimately in God's hands - meanwhile on the ground they were called to bring Kingdom Life.

We too need to understand that the same clock is still ticking, and this is still the period of God's Spirit poured out, to enable us to declare Jesus is Lord and bring Kingdom Life across the city.

The outcome of this united prayer of the first church members was that their meeting place was shaken (v31), and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. It wasn't just for the keenies or the special few, but for all. The verse tells us 'after they prayed' - we don't know exactly how long they had to wait, but it reminds us to wait on God to move amongst us.

The Acts 2 Pentecost experience was also a result of waiting on God, and the initial empowering Jesus had promised for His disciples. From there Kingdom work gains momentum, with Peter speaking healing (chapter 3) that starts arguments with the authorities. In that exchange Peter is again filled (4:8) and speaks profoundly, which leads to the threat and hence to this prayer ... and to the whole group being filled again for more Kingdom work!

This is filling for empowerment to be part of the bigger purposes of God. Wait on Him, seek to be ever closer to Jesus ... for His Spirit to empower you for Kingdom work.

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