Prayer and the Small Church A New Testament Perspective
“Prayer is the Atmosphere of Revelation” P. T. Forsyth, The Soul of Prayer
“Prayer is the Tropical Climate of the Soul” G. F. Gordan, Soul Winner’s Secrets
“To the use of Scriptures the early Christians added prayer as a prime necessity in all evangelistic enterprise.” Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, 235.
Prayer and the Early Church Introduction • Prayer in Acts builds upon and/or “coheres” to Jesus’ perspective on prayer in Luke • Over 30 times Christ’s followers in Acts are shown in prayer or the narrative refers to prayer. • Most of the these occurrences are found in the first half of Acts—setting a pattern.
Prayer’s Role in the Early Church • Prayer—a foundational lifestyle and relationship that was employed for the evangelistic mission (Acts 2:42) • Prayer paved the way for bold and fruitful proclamation of the gospel (Acts 4:23-33) • Prayer provided the environment for the Holy Spirit to inspire and fill believers with power to be witnesses (Acts 1:14; 2:1-13) • Prayer was key element for the overcoming of barriers to the Mission (Acts 1:14; (leadership); 2:1-11 (power); 2:41-47 (consistent life, unity, Joy, love);
Prayers role (cont.) • Prayer prepares both believers and unbelievers for providential encounters and effective evangelistic witness (Acts 10-11:18) • Corporate prayer patterns are shown as normal for the early church (Acts 12:5, 2:42; 1:14) • Prayer is key component for effective leaders (Acts 6:1ff; Acts 14:23) • Prayer plays a vital role in the sending of witnesses to the world (Acts 13:1-4)
Marks of a Praying ChurchThe Early Church at PrayerActs 4:23-33 1. First Response is Prayer (23, 24) Praying People, United Corporate Prayer 2. Healthy Bible Based Prayer Theology (24, 27, 28) Focus was God, Creator God, The Christ, Providential Lord 3. Strategic Kingdom-Focused Prayer Patterns (29) God’s Nearness, Boldness, Changed Lives 4. Experience God’s Activity, Manifest Presence (31-33) Faithful Praying, Fruitful Praying, Unified Ministry, Abundant Grace, Bold Proclamation, etc.
Application • Seek to create a God-centered life of prayer • Teach, Model and Train believers in Biblical Prayer • Practice “One Accord Prayer” • Develop and Pray God’s Prayer Agenda/List • Expect Lasting/Eternal Results
Prayer ministries will need to flow out of prayer passions (affinity prayer groups) Strategic prayer should be sensitive to both church and non-church cultures Prayer for revival, awakening and toward the Great Commission is the heart of strategic prayer Web-based networks provide avenues for involvement in Kingdom-oriented prayer emphases Field-based prayer ministries provide excellent opportunities for congregations to utilize prayer as an avenue for genuine relationship building Denominational missions praying must be taught and modeled Participation in Inter-denominational prayer efforts is essential Contemporary Considerations