The Early Church and Their Prayer

Follow closely the story of Peter and John after the church is established. See what mattered. Watch the things they do. Be instructed.

Having been present for the events which unfolded on the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John, filled with the Spirit of God, have entered the temple precincts to worship, preach and teach (Acts 4). On their way to the worship, they are stopped at the beautiful gate by a lame man who sat there and begged for alms. Peter and John have no money to give, but they give something far batter. They give the gift of healing in Jesus name. This man, once healed, gets to his feet and enters the temple, praising God for the miracle that had been done for him. This gathered a crowd of curious onlookers and provided Peter and John an opportunity to speak a word of testimony for Christ.

Peter and John preach boldly about the guilt of those present, and the forgiveness available in the death and resurrection of Christ. All those present, however were not excited to hear this new message. The Sadducees, who had control of the temple courts, jailed Peter and John and in the morning put them on trial before the religious council known as the Sanhedrin. Although a trial was conducted, there was no conviction. So the religious leaders threaten Peter and John, at least twice, and let them go. The evidence that a great miracle had been done, was irrefutable.

I love how Dr. Luke puts it in Acts 4:22. The man on whom the miracle was done was over 40. As if to say if a lame man over 40 got up and walked, then you know there was a miracle. Even in the first century, it was all downhill after 40!

Peter and John leave the temple area after this encounter and return to the fellowship of that early church. The immediate response to the news that Peter and John brought was prayer. Is prayer our immediate response to anything? Is the first thing we think to do, in any circumstance, is pray?

Read the prayer of these early believers. First, this prayer begins with recognition of who God is. Second their prayer continues by affirming the doctrine of creation. Creation and Sovereignty are connected. How can God be sovereign over the earth if he didn’t create it? Third, their prayer affirms the doctrine of the divine inspiration of scripture. Read Acts 4:25. They believe David’s words are God’s words. And they pray God’s words back to him. When you are faced with overwhelming circumstances, it is perfectly right to say, “God, you said this!” Praying the scripture is a means of declaring your confidence and trust in those scriptures and in the God who authored them!

The theological theme of sovereignty and ruler-ship continues throughout this prayer. And it makes sense that it would. After all, if you are asking God to help, you ask based on the assumption he knows your problem. Acts 4:38 indicate that the early church believed that God sovereignly directed and continues to direct all things to their appointed end. They believe that the crucifixion was not a cosmic accident, but a cosmic plan.

The prayer of these dear saints closes with a request. Their request is simply that God would see the threatening, and as a result of the threatening, God would grant them boldness to speak the word, and that they would be granted the power to perform the signs that would validate their message. I love this request. No imprecatory prayers that God would zap the Sadducees. No prayers that God would remove the trouble.

I love that Acts 4:31 exists…because we learn that prayers are answered! Sometimes you pray and you don’t see results. But sometimes you pray and God answers immediately. It’s those times that get you through the times of God’s silence. And so, dear reader, with this profound prayer in our hearts and minds, let us be people of  prayer!

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