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“Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers which cannot be refused.” 

~ Charles Spurgeon

“The coming revival must begin with a great revival of prayer. It is in the closet, with the door shut, that the sound of abundance of rain will first be heard. An increase of secret prayer with ministers will be the sure harbinger of blessing.”

~ Andrew Murray

 

Peter was in prison, and Herod had probably ordered his execution for the next day.

Sounds like an impossible situation, doesn’t it? Imagine being a brand-new, multiplying church with the entire Roman army against you, and 16 soldiers surrounding your leader-who happens also to be in chains.

How did this church in Acts 12 respond? They didn’t have any armies or weapons. They said, “We have an impossible situation. Our beloved leader, mightily used by God, is in prison. We will pray earnestly unto God specifically for His deliverance.”

There are several principles of prayer in this passage. First and foremost, the church prayed “to God.” They knew the One to whom they were praying-His power, His authority, His great compassion and love. But there’s also another principle they practiced that we can learn from: They prayed “earnestly” (Acts 12:5).

The word “earnestly” here is a compound word in Greek. It has two parts, the first part meaning “out” and the second part meaning “stretched.” It’s the idea behind our English word for tension. It’s translated in 1 Peter 1:22 as deeply or fervently, and it’s used in Luke 22:44 where Jesus prays “in anguish” and “more earnestly” in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The image given is of focused and passionate prayer-coming to God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and saying, “God, I mean business! I want what I’m asking of You; I’m not just going through the motions.”

Those of us who have children may remember a time when a little one’s temperature rose to 102, then to 103, and then to 104. You may remember how our prayers changed as the temperature went up. Have you ever sat there with a little baby who’s burning up? We don’t pray, “O Lord, we would really like, if it’s in Your will, according to Your sovereign plan, to bless this child according to Your purposes,” do we? We pray, “O God, save my child!”

That’s what this word “earnestly” is saying: We need to come to God like we mean it. We need to know Who we’re really talking to, and then earnestly-with our soul stretched out before God-to say, “God, hear our cry.”

Earnest Together

A crucial aspect of the church’s earnest prayer was its corporate nature. They were united in their earnestness. The early church believed that it was the most powerful force on this earth, so when the body of Christ gathered and approached Jesus and the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit, they asked in unity.

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His Kingdom or My Comfort Praying?

by Jon Graf

Longtime Presbyterian minister, Dr. Wilbur Chapman (early 1900s) was 26 when called to be pastor of Wanamakers Church in Philadelphia. His first Sunday, an old gentleman came up to him and said, “you’re much too young to be the pastor of such a fine church as this.” Chapman thought the guy was a kook. But the gentleman went on to tell him that he had decided to pray for him, that the Holy Spirit’s power would fall on him each time he stepped into the pulpit. And he had another man who would pray with him.

Chapman report that those two men soon turned into 10, the 20, then 50, and finally more than 200 men who gathered each Sunday morning before services and pray for the Holy Spirit’s enablement. Over the next three years the church saw 1,100 people come into the kingdom—more than 600 of them men.

Somewhere along the line churches have lost sight of what they should be praying for! Today, most churches’ prayers are almost exclusively for needs within the body. Prayers that each person’s life would get back to normal. Seldom are there prayers that cry out for the fullness of Jesus Christ to come upon a body, for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto a church…

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“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.”

~ Jonathan Edwards 

 

“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”

~ Charles Spurgeon

 

Paul Tautges

Paul Tautges

Lord of the Church,

As we anticipate gathering together as Your people for the purpose of worship, tomorrow morning, we pray Your name will be glorified and Your will accomplished in our hearts and the hearts of all those who worship You through Jesus Christ.

  • Lead us to the Rock, Redeemer, and Refuge. Lift our thoughts to the Rock so that we may trust in Your strength (Psalm 19:14). Touch the affections of our hearts so that we, the household of God, will grow in our love for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who is the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Hide us in the shelter of Your wings as we listen to Your promises (Psalm 61:1-4).
  • Make us responsive to the Holy Spirit as You seek worshipers to draw near in spirit and truth. May the Holy Spirit who indwells us stir us up in our inner person to praise You with every part of our being (Psalm 138:1). Lord, reveal our hidden sins or hypocrisy so that we may repent and worship in truth, purity, and faith (Psalm 24:3-6).
  • Fill the pastor-preacher with the Holy Spirit’s power. Lord, it is You who enables a mere man to preach with clarity, conviction, and boldness as the forces of Hell wage war against him (Ephesians 6:10-20). Fill his heart with love and compassion for those to whom he preaches so that his preaching will edify and equip believers with grace and truth, and plead with unbelievers to embrace Christ (Ephesians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 5:20).

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A Saturday Night Prayer

Paul Tautges
Paul Tautges

Paul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastMore

Lord of the Church,

As we anticipate gathering together as Your people for the purpose of worship, tomorrow morning, we pray Your name will be glorified and Your will accomplished in our hearts and the hearts of all those who worship You through Jesus Christ.

  • Lead us to the Rock, Redeemer, and Refuge. Lift our thoughts to the Rock so that we may trust in Your strength (Psalm 19:14). Touch the affections of our hearts so that we, the household of God, will grow in our love for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who is the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Hide us in the shelter of Your wings as we listen to Your promises (Psalm 61:1-4).
  • Make us responsive to the Holy Spirit as You seek worshipers to draw near in spirit and truth. May the Holy Spirit who indwells us stir us up in our inner person to praise You with every part of our being (Psalm 138:1). Lord, reveal our hidden sins or hypocrisy so that we may repent and worship in truth, purity, and faith (Psalm 24:3-6).
  • Fill the pastor-preacher with the Holy Spirit’s power. Lord, it is You who enables a mere man to preach with clarity, conviction, and boldness as the forces of Hell wage war against him (Ephesians 6:10-20). Fill his heart with love and compassion for those to whom he preaches so that his preaching will edify and equip believers with grace and truth, and plead with unbelievers to embrace Christ (Ephesians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 5:20).

For the rest of the post…

“Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber.”

“From the Day of Pentecost, there has not been one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined.”

A.T. Pierson, quoted by Arthur Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power, p. 112

 

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