“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” – Acts 4:31
I hear Acts 4:32 – 35quoted wistfully by Christians who would LOVE to see this spirit in our churches. One cannot help but admire the generosity and self-sacrifice of the Jerusalem Christians, as well as their boldness and unity. By moments we ask ourselves what keeps us from living equally passionate lives. I think I know.
“And when they had prayed…” The Jerusalem church was a praying church; a church birthed out of a prayer meeting. Their ministry plan seems to have been, “pray, be present in the city, and watch for divine openings.” Later on organization and structure would evolve but the movement itself birthed out of prayer.
We cannot program generosity, sacrifice or bold witness. We cannot merely plan our way into revival. But we can pray our way into changed hearts – and prepared hearts – so that we can respond when the Spirit moves. When the Spirit moves, then the planning and organizing will have a purpose and a context.
Do you want to see new life in your church? Pray. Do you want to see your church making an impact in your community? Pray for God to create openings and then step into them. Do you want to see people in your congregation taking initiative with unreached sub-cultures around you? Pray – and when God raises these volunteer ministers up be sure to affirm them, commission them and celebrate their victories with them (and encourage them in their defeats).
Prayer does not replace planning, organization, processes or budgets; it precedes them. Do you want a church like the one in Jerusalem? First things first.
How convinced am I that prayer is the life-blood of meaningful, lasting ministry? What one step could I take to further the role of prayer in my life and ministry?