Thursday, April 13, 2006

Prayer (Acts 16)


Prayer plays a vital role in Acts 16. I notice each time Paul and his companions are headed to a place of prayer or praying, something supernatural occurs. Whether it is someone accepting Jesus Christ as Lord, deliverance from a demonic spirit, or a prison break including an earthquake, something miraculous happens. And in each of these prayer is involved.

Check it out for yourself:
- Acts 16:13
- Acts 16:16
- Acts 16:25

In v.13 Paul and his companions meet Lydia and her heart is opened to accepting Jesus Christ. I like the setting; outside the city gate and down by the river. (I love rivers!) If prayer wasn’t such a significant part of the disciple’s lives, they might have missed the opportunity to present Jesus Christ to Lydia. This all happened as they were headed to a place of prayer. Think about that. God opened doors for the disciples to speak of Him and He opened the heart of Lydia and her household to receive Him. A beautiful picture of God using prayer to transform lives!

In v.16 Paul and company meet a slave girl who is demon possessed. She, with the help of this demon, has the ability to fortune tell. (There are such things as fortunetellers.) Apparently the demon inside her knows what is living inside of Paul (Holy Spirit). In sort of a comical scene, she follows them around for several days announcing to everyone who they are and what they offer (v.17-18). If you have a hard time seeing this as bothersome, imagine someone following you around for three days announcing to everyone who you are and what you do. In the name of Jesus Christ Paul commands (Greek = paraggello) the spirit to leave the girl. It does and she is free.

In v.25 Paul and Silas find themselves in jail praying and singing hymns. They ended up here as a result of Paul commanding the spirit to come out of the demon possessed slave girl (v.19). This led to false accusations, a flogging, and imprisonment. Not a happy way to end the day. Despite the fact that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens (v.37) and eligible for a fair trial, they took the beating and remained focused on God. As they are praying and singing in jail a violent earthquake shakes the entire place. All the prison doors fly open and everyone’s chains fall off. (Powerful symbolism for what God can do in us when we accept Him!) To avoid execution from the Roman government for allowing the prisoners to escape, the guard draws his sword to kill himself. But, before he can thrust the sword into his flesh, Paul shouts out to him. Strangely, no one has escaped and it appears no one wants to. The guard is moved to accepting Jesus Christ (he and his whole family).

Look at the role of prayer in Acts 16. Paul and his missionary companions are either on their way to do it or doing it when something miraculous happens. This makes me want to evaluate how much time I spend praying. How often am I headed to a place of prayer when God intervenes and someone’s life is changed forever? I’m embarrassed to answer that question. What an inspiring chapter in the book of Acts on prayer. Time to get you thinking about prayer.

- How important is prayer to you?
- How important should prayer be to the Church?
- What percent of your time during the week is spent praying?
- Can a lost person be saved and come to Jesus without someone first praying for them?
- Any other thoughts you would like to share on prayer?

5 comments:

yourblogreader said...

PRAYER-3 A's
I learned several years ago these 3 truths about prayer.
1. We can pray anywhere
2. We can pray anytime
3. We can pray about anything

John10 said...

Prayer is a good thing. I struggle finding time to do it though. Anybody else find that hard? I know God does answer prayer, but why is it that sometimes we pray, pray, and pray and nothing happens? Or does something happen? My 2 cents on this.

John10 said...

Prayer is a good thing. I struggle finding time to do it though. Anybody else find that hard? I know God does answer prayer, but why is it that sometimes we pray, pray, and pray and nothing happens? Or does something happen? My 2 cents on this.

Christy said...

Prayer is one of the most important tools a Christian has, and often one of the least used. I know I need to pray more and I need to do more intercessary prayer.
Loved the blog, it was really great!

Tim Sheets said...

Thanks for the comments all!

I sometimes find it hard to pray. Whenever I set aside times to do it, I'm amazed at how many distractions come up to take me away from that. The Enemy doesn't want us to communicate or be in communion w/ God. Nevertheless, we are to follow the example of Jesus and pray often. I love the Scripture in Philippians 4:6 that tells us to pray about everything. That's something to strive for.

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