7 MARKS OF A PRAYING CHURCH

     "And being let go, they went to their own companions, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said, "LORD, You are God Who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said, 'Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ, For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together. to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders  may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." Acts 4:23-31
      We frankly confess there are mysteries about manís relationships with God that manís limited intelligence can only penetrate dimly.
      In the scripture preceding our text we have the religious leaders of Israel serving as the agents of Satan in persecuting true believers. In the disciples of Jesus we have what the religious leaders described as "uneducated and untrained men". (4:13) In the prayer of the disciples we have a testimony that when Israelís religious leaders joined with Roman authorities in a rage to put Jesus to death they were doing what God had predestined them to do.

     As we contemplate this scene we might ask as others have done, "Since God is sovereign Heís going to do what Heís already planned"

     From that conclusion we might even take the giant leap in our thoughts as others have done, "Does it really make any difference whether I pray or not?" If we do, we have made a colossal blunder. There is abundant testimony that God desires His people to pray.

GOD ENCOURAGES HIS PEOPLE TO PRAY.

     "ÖFor My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." Isaiah 56:7

     When Solomon dedicated Godís Temple he received this promise, "If my people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heavenÖ" 2 Chronicles 7:14.

      In His sermon on the mount Jesus instructed His disciples, "In this manner, therefore, pray Ö" Matthew 6:9

     After looking upon the great multitudes that had come to hear Him Jesus said to His disciples, "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Matthew 9:38.

    To encourage His disciples faith Jesus gave this promise,"ÖWhatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." Mark 11:24

     To encourage unceasing prayer Jesus "Öspoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray, and not lose heart." Luke 18:1

     It is clear that God desires that His people pray continually, earnestly and in faith. When they do God promises to answer. If space were available we could list a catalog of Godís astounding answerís to prayer.

     In our text we have Peter and John returning to their fellow believers and relating the threats they had received from the religious leaders. By their response we are able to identify seven marks of a praying church.

I. A praying church has spontaneous desire to pray.

     " So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accordÖ" When Peter and John gave their report which carried ominous tones of coming persecution the church did not enter into endless discussion and questions about all the details. They didnít call for a conference of all church members to decide a course of church action. They spontaneously went to prayer.

II. A praying church lifts their eyes above the problems to the Lord.

     "LORD, You are God Who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them." They didnít lock their gaze on the problems and wring their hands in hopeless anguish. They didnít look to any man or resources for the solution of their predicament. They presented their case to their heavenly Father, Who is the Supreme Judge of all mankind. They believed their God was the highest Judge of all Who could turn the wrath of man into His praise. They left the care of their future in His hands.

III. A Praying church has a burning desire for Godís Word to be spoken with boldness.

     For what did the church pray? For an end to all persecution? That they might be protected from any harm? That all turmoil might be removed so they could make money; be prosperous; build elegant homes and live in peace and luxury?

     They prayed that in spite of all persecution the Lord would enable them to preach His word with all boldness. They believed God had given the revelation of His truth and the greatest needs of man are met by hearing Godís word and responding to it in sincerity and faith. And so, whether they suffer or not, they looked to God to empower them to faithfully and boldly speak His word.

IV. A praying church will have the faith to ask for miracles.

     "Öby stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders  may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."

     Sincere and godly Christians disagree as to whether the sign gifts extended beyond the apostolic age. But, surely, all godly men and women believe that God is able to perform miracles and will perform miracles in answer to the sincere faith of His people.

     James wrote, "and the prayer of faith will save the sickÖ" James 5:15. Virtually every community of believers can testify of numerous times God gave healing in answer to believing prayer.

     Certainly, the salvation of every lost sinner is a miracle from God. In our short history as a church we have seen doors of opportunity miraculously opened; great needs met; wives enabled to conceive and sicknesses healed. Our God is still a God of miracles.

V. A praying church will experience being filled with the Holy Spirit.

     "Öand they were all filled with the Holy SpiritÖ"

     The prophetic day of Pentecost will not happen again. The rushing, mighty wind will probably not happen again, nor the cloven tongues of fire, nor the entire church speaking languages they did not learn by natural means.

     However, there are two things that happened at Pentecost that continue to happen again and again:

    1. Every person who is truly saved by Godís grace is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13
    2. Believers who are right with God and who pray and believe God to fill them with the Holy Spirit are filled with the Holy Spirit. The same nine words describing this experience at Pentecost (Acts 2:4a) are used here of believers at a later time. "Öand they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." (4:31)
VI. A praying church will have the power of God upon their witnessing and preaching.

     "Öand they spoke the word of God with boldness."  (Verse 31) "And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Verse 33).

     Those who spoke did so with Holy Spirit power in their words. Those who heard experienced Holy Spirit conviction in their hearts. These early chapters of the book of Acts note hosts of people being saved. They also note hosts of people being made angry. Both responses are the result of Holy Spirit empowered witnessing.

     May we not be content to speak Godís word with manís wisdom but seek to speak with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

VII. A praying church will have Godís grace on its members.     

     "ÖAnd great grace was upon them all." (Verse 33

     There was the beautiful grace of harmony among the believers. There was sacrificial grace to minister to others with their possessions as good stewards of the grace of God. There was joyful grace in fellowship that had the blessing of God. There was spiritual grace that enabled them to grow in maturity as believers.

     Great blessings come to a praying church. May each one of us aspire to be a praying Christian that contributes towards making a praying church.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.