Rhonda’s Recap: Prayer Equilibrium
What does a woman do when she is scheduled to preach and receives an early Sunday morning phone call that her step-sister has passed away? She cries and she PRAYS for supernatural strength and clarity in communication!
This past Sunday, I dedicated the message on prayer at Sin City Church not only to God, but also to Judy, my step-sister. Since Judy’s stroke three years ago, she would call me for prayer and though we lived miles apart, she didn’t mind me praying on the phone with her. Judy was always the first one to phone on our birthdays, check in to say hello and not just because she was limited in her mobility, but because she had a heart for her family. I believe although she was my age, she knew her time here on earth was coming to a close and she would soon join her father and two brothers in heaven. We will miss her and I ask that you keep her husband, Chris, their daughters and grandchildren in your prayers.
So now, what about prayer?
Recap of the weekend message (April 6) . . .
. . . In the first two chapters of Acts, we learn about the early church and are introduced to the Holy Spirit and His powerful work. As we transition to chapters three and four, persecution rears its ugly attacks (Peter and John put in jail for healing a man and then upon release being warned not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again). When Peter and John returned to their people and reported what had happened they didn’t shun Peter and John, they didn’t say you better do what you’re told by the Jewish Elders and law keepers. No they didn’t do that! Their people immediately “raised their voices together in prayer to God . . . Acts 4:24).”
Back to the beginning of Acts, Chapter 3
Peter and John were on their way to the temple for the three o’clock prayer service when they healed the lame man at the temple gate! So, whoever said church couldn’t be held at 2pm in the afternoon (the time we currently meet at Sin City Church)? Seems like an afternoon prayer gathering was okay for devout Jews and Gentiles. As a matter of fact they went to the temple three times a day for prayer.
Do we currently have prayer vertigo in the church? Do we really seek God first and then commit our plans to the Lord? Do we raise our voices TOGETHER in prayer or is our equilibrium out of balance in this privilege/discipline?
RECAP POINT #1: PRAY
It’s a matter of asking ourselves a question: Have I ever thought I can’t wait to come to church service because we’re going to pray? Ouch! Or, have I ever closed my eyes at night thinking I can’t wait to wake up in the morning to pray with my family or my brothers and sisters in Christ? The point is not about the time of day (1 Thess. 5;17 reminds us we are to be in a constant state of prayer), it is simply about taking time to pray.
Sometimes when I am sitting down and get up too quickly, I am super dizzy and need to sit back down. I can easily throw my equilibrium off if I’m not careful. Sometimes, we are spinning so quickly in our lives, we forget to take the time to pray, to ask God for direction. Before we know it we make decisions that cause vertigo in our relationships or stunt forward movement toward becoming more like Jesus.
The first verse in Acts, Chapter 3, reminds us how important it is to take time to pray!
RECAP POINT #2: PRAY PRAYERS OF REPENTANCE
Peter seizes a moment to preach a message when the people are so amazed at the healing of a lame man. The message he preaches is a bold message. “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19-20, The Bible).”
We read in the above passage about three blessings that come from praying prayers of repentance:
- Our sins are wiped away
- We will receive refreshment
There is no wrong time to pray prayers of repentance but as we lean into the Easter season and all it represents in Jesus being crucified, buried, and risen . . . it’s a perfect time to remember all Jesus did for us. It’s also a great time to do an examination of our lives. Is there anything I am involved in that needs to be crucified and buried so that refreshment can rise up within me?
Praying prayers of repentance brings spiritual healing. I did this last week with a spiritual coach and immediately was refreshed in my relationship with God. I felt like I had just been to a health spa . . . a cleansing massage of the heart and the mind as I purged some junk that had caused me to drag one leg behind me in planting a new church.
So, we learn in Acts 3-4 to not only pray, but to pray prayers of repentance, and . . .
RECAP POINT #3: PRAY FOR GREAT BOLDNESS
It’s unfortunate when persecution comes from within the church body, but it will! If Satan can’t destroy our faith, he’ll try to destroy our character through assassination by others. Peter and John were doing a good thing – a great thing to spread the gospel, yet there were those who saw it differently and attacked them. Imagine being put in jail for doing something in the name of Jesus. Imagine being the subject of conversation where leaders are trying to hush you as you have been called to spread the gospel message.
We can’t just pray for boldness, we are reminded to pray for GREAT BOLDNESS! Let’s read a bit more of this prayer. “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:27-30).”
I’m not quite sure I’ve ever prayed for GREAT boldness! Perhaps I could say I’ve done some bold things or said some bold things but not always for the sake of spreading the gospel. In fact, some things I’ve said or done might do the opposite. The things I say or do that do not represent what Jesus would do can harm my witness to spread the gospel.
Their are a lot of hurting people in the world that need our prayers. We think of what happened at Fort Hood recently. Mr. Lopez cried out on Facebook but then he acted out with violence to harm others. I don’t know what his spiritual journey was like but I do know if I’m going to everyone else instead of God, my prayer equilibrium is out of balance. When my prayer life is neglected, things are not clear for me and I make poor decisions that affect others negatively. Prayer vertigo affects my mind and my heart.
I want to experience the church shaking, not out of fear; but, because of what God does through our prayers. We read in Acts 4:31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Wow! The reality of what can be if we are ALL filled with the Holy Spirit.
Lord, I pray each of us would develop a craving for gathering together for prayer and that when we come together as a church body, we take time to pray. I pray we will pray prayers of repentance. I pray for great boldness in our preaching. God forgive us for our sin to diminish the privilege of praying. I pray for forgiveness in purging what is right instead of what is not right, for purging what is clean instead what is not clean, for purging what appeals to you instead of what is appalling. In Jesus name we pray for a refilling of the Holy Spirit and a shaking in the church! Amen!