Have you ever noticed how many times Paul solicited prayer from the churches he was writing to, and how he encouraged them to pray continually? The Church understood that we are enlisted in the Kingdom business of uniting all things in heaven and on earth under Christ ( see Ephesians 1:9-10).
Paul was always mindful of the Church’s universal commission when he asked them to pray for him, as he did so many times. We can see God’s sovereign power in the answers that the Church received when they prayed.
Powerful Answers to Prayer
When they called on God in Acts 4, they simply acknowledged that God had His hand on the controls of history, and asked for boldness to proclaim the gospel in spite of the threats they received from the authorities. The place where they were praying together was shaken, they were all filled with the Spirit, and spoke the word of God with boldness just as they had asked. God did what only He could do, and the Church did as they were instructed to do (see Acts 4:23-31).
Taking our Responsibility Seriously
We see this over and over in the New Testament, the Church making a plea for what only God can do, and then setting out to do what He instructed them to do. Everything about the gospel from start to finish depends on God, who calls people to Himself through the preaching of Christ. No human can open a door for the gospel much less prepare the hearts of those who will hear it to receive it.
In Colossians 4:2-4 we read “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”
Here we see another example of the sovereign purpose of God and the responsibility of the Church, that Jesus modeled perfectly for his disciples. Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing, said what the Father gave him to say, and reminded those who heard him that his doctrine was not his own, but his Father’s who sent him.
Living out our Purpose with Predictable Results
How powerful and effective the Church is whenever we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, and we remain faithful to keep ourselves within the guidelines as we’re instructed. It’s God who guides us where He wants us, it’s God who draws people to Jesus, and the Spirit who gives us the right message at the right time for the right people He’s been dealing with.
This is the reason we can pray with confidence expecting predictable results (see 1 John 5:14-15). This is why the Church was always committed to prayer. Without prayer the gospel cannot go out in the power of the Spirit sent down from heaven. We see everywhere in Luke’s accounts of the Church in Acts, they were absolutely dependent on God for results.
The Church is always most effective when we take our place as God’s instrument of choice to demonstrate the power of the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven as we advance the gospel praying for Divine assistance every step of the way.
The Power of God’s Priority
The mission of the Church has always been carried out “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts: (Zechariah 4:6 ). Jesus told his disciples “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Finally Peter reminded the believers who were in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1). That those who preached the good news to them did so by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (1 Peter 1:12).
How the Church needs to continue the lifestyle of prayer and fasting to be clothed with the same power from on high, which only God can do, and to get on with proclaiming the gospel, planting churches and discipling the nations as we were instructed to do. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church living like this. – Be Encouraged! -JSP