I wrote yesterday about the importance of prayer in the church. This morning, I would like to show another element of prayer that was in the book of Acts, and we need it active in the body of Christ today. We know that from Acts one and on, the apostles and followers of Jesus are continually praying. Their communication with God is vertical because it’s them lifting their voices toward Heaven unto God, and Him blessing them in return. But after a while, I noticed a change in direction. In chapter twelve, Simon Peter was arrested and put in prison. When this happened, look at what the church began to do.
So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
This prayer was not just in the church, but it was prayer through the church because they were praying for one of their brothers that were in trouble. It went from vertical to horizontal. And the power of this prayer caused God to send an angel and deliver Peter from the chains and the prison cell where he was locked up.
Can you imagine the joy and amazement that Peter felt as he walked out of that prison completely free? It wasn’t long until he was reunited with his brothers and sisters. Once he told them what happened, and they shared with him how they had been praying for him, they realized the power of prayer through the church. I can see Peter looking up toward Heaven and saying, Thank God, my church was praying for me.
In the next chapter, prayer through the church continues as they send Paul and Barnabas out to preach the Gospel.
2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
The church laid hands on these two men and prayed for God to anoint them, bless them, and keep His hand of protection upon them. Paul and Barnabas walked away from that place with a passion for their mission and knowing that their church was praying for them. They weren’t sure what they would encounter, for the church was under great persecution. However, they were convinced of their calling, confident that God would protect them, and they knew their brothers and sisters were praying for them.
Not only did the church pray for them that day, but I believe they committed to pray for them every day. They let Paul and Barnabas know, we might not be with you physically, but we are with you spiritually. These men not only had the power of God with them, but they also had a praying church behind them. Don’t ever underestimate the effectiveness of a praying church.
It wasn’t long after they were traveling until the enemy came against them.
6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-Jesus:
7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
This evil man thought he would bring harm to Paul and Barnabas and stop them from preaching in the name of Jesus. What he didn’t realize were two significant factors.
A. THE POWER OF GOD
B. PRAYER THROUGH THE CHURCH
The Apostle Paul called this devil out, rebuked him, and prayed blindness upon him. The people were astonished at what they had just experienced. Here was an evil spirit trying to destroy these men of God, but through the authority in the name of Jesus, they walked away victorious. This is my opinion, but I believe Paul and Barnabas could feel the prayers of their brothers and sisters. For you see, prayer is not just something that can be heard, but it is also felt. It’s a force that works not only vertically, but also horizontally. Knowing their church was calling on God for them, gave these men such high confidence and boldness to carry the Gospel. No matter what they would face, they could always say, “MY CHURCH IS PRAYING FOR ME.”
I shared these scriptures and stories with my church on Sunday. We had what we call “BACK TO SCHOOL RALLY” because our kids started back to school on Monday, August 5th. I told all of our young people that the same commitment the church gave to Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, we were going to give to them. For in these last days, we have no idea what all our kids will come in contact with. Evil is ever-present in our world today, and the enemy would love nothing more than to destroy young people that are serving God.
I let them know, that no matter what they would encounter, one thing they can count on, and that is; their church is praying for them. We ordered wrist-bands for all of them to wear this year that says, “MY CHURCH IS PRAYING FOR ME.” We wanted it to be a reminder and also a witness to anyone that might inquire about what they are wearing. I want our kids to be protected from the evil that is in our world. Our church is committed to praying a hedge around them, so the enemy can’t lay a hand on them. We want them to walk down the hallways of their schools with confidence and boldness, in the face of adversity. There’s a long list of things that will come in contact with today, but in the midst of whatever the enemy might try to attack them with, they can overcome it and proudly say, “MY CHURCH IS PRAYING FOR ME!”
I would love it if you joined this campaign with us. Let your kids know what we’ve committed to them this year, and you do the same thing. Give them something to wear that says, “MY CHURCH IS PRAYING FOR ME.” I want every Christian young person to know that we might not be with them physically, but we are with them spiritually, and we are praying for them.