Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- Out of the five kinds of prayer that the early church experienced, which one is the hardest for you to personally engage with? Which of them is the easiest for you? Explain your answers.
- Starting with the area of prayer that you identified as the hardest one, how can you take steps to engage in that kind of prayer this week? How can we, as a group, help support you in doing that?
- How does prayer uniquely highlight our dependence on God? Why is it good for us to remind ourselves of our dependence on Him?
- Take time as a group praying for one another.
10 days, 10. In the grander scheme of things, that does seem like a really long time. It feels a little bit like a drop in the bucket, right? 10 days. But I guess it depends on what the circumstance is as to whether 10 days would feel really long or really short. So for instance, if you had to go without food 10 days, that would seem far, far too long but if you only had 10 days to live, that would feel far, far too short. You see, it's the same amount of time 10 days. It's just a function of, what is the circumstance surrounding it. It's exactly the same, in terms of actual time, but how it feels is going to be very different depending on the circumstance. So I wonder how Jesus' disciples felt when their 10 days.
Now, you remember that they had followed Jesus for three years right they had been with him as he preached. The kingdom of God had come and they had followed him all this time for 3 years and then Jesus ends up going to across because his message obviously ring true with many but others decided that they were going to rebel against that and he went to a cross and he died, but of course he didn't stay dead on the third day he rises from the grave. And then over the course of ... After rising from the grave over the course of the next 40 days Jesus appears to his disciples in different places and at different times where he shows himself to them, even eats with them, shows up walking through a wall when they were locked inside of a room but he shared a meal with them. But then, he gave them some final instructions and he ascended to his father and he was gone. But what he did is, he told them he said, "I want you to go, you that are following after me. I want you to go to Jerusalem and I want you to wait," and they did for 10 days.
Now, what was that 10 days like? I'm not 100% sure but I have to think, in my mind, that that 10 days must have felt very long for them. I mean, what would you do over the course of that time? You've just thought about the fact that Jesus has now left you. Now, yes, he's made promises but you had seen him resurrected but now you've seen him ascend to the father and he's gone, and now it's just you, but you're waiting on this promise, so to speak, to be fulfilled that Jesus made. But I imagine that that 10 days had to be a long time.
Here's what I don't know for sure, I don't know exactly how all of Jesus' disciples felt now that he had gone. And before the spirit had come, in that 10-day window, it had to feel very. very long, but I don't know fully, maybe, how they felt but I know absolutely what they did. They prayed, that I do know. I don't know how they fully felt but I do know what they did, they prayed. And in that praying, it actually was a benchmark for what their lives, walking with Jesus would actually look like now that Jesus is gone. Their lives would still look like lives of prayer. In fact, when you look in the book of Acts at the early church you find them immediately and that 10-day period praying. And then, as the book of Acts unfolds do you know what you continue to find out, they kept on doing it. They just kept on doing it.
So in our time together this morning for at least a few minutes I want to walk us through a few scenes in the book of Acts with the early church believers because I want us to be able to see how serious they were about church, and maybe about prayer, how serious the early church was about prayer, and maybe even for us be able to pick up some ways in which they were praying that might be instructive to us.
The first way that, maybe, I would point out is that they engaged in what I would call dependent prayer, dependent prayer. Now, here's what I mean by that. They were gathering together to pray, like I told you. They were waiting for Jesus after he ascended to the father. They were waiting as he instructed them.
Look at what it says in Acts chapter one, beginning in verse 12, it says, "Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew, Phillip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, the son of Alpheus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas, the son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
So what you figure out right from the outset, is you figure out that they were serious about prayer and that it had to have been a dependent type of prayer. Why am I actually calling this dependent prayer? Well, here's why. Think about what the position was that they were in. This band of followers of Jesus was given this overwhelming mission by Jesus before Jesus ascends to the father and says, "Hey, I'm gonna be leaving you." And he gives them this mission, the mission we've heard in a number of different places, in Matthew 28 that he basically says this, he says, "Hey, what I want you to do is go into all the world and I want you to make disciples of all nations, and I want you to baptize them in the name of the father, and the son and the holy spirit, and I want you to teach them to obey everything that I've commanded you, and I'll be with you even to the very end of the age. I'll be with you."
And then, in Acts we hear the words said this way, that Jesus says, "You're going to receive power when the spirit comes on you, and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judah, Sumeria and to the ends of the earth." This had to be an overwhelming prospect for these apostles, the disciples, these early church followers of Jesus. Think about it. Now Jesus has said, "Here's what I want you to do, I want you to wait. But here's what you're going to do, you're now going to be my visible representatives in the world to preach the message that I preached. You're going to be my mouthpieces to communicate what I was now communicating to everybody else."
Now, you had to remember, they must have been thinking in their head, "But wait a minute, this message that you preached, less than six weeks ago they murdered you for this and now we're going to be communicating this message to everyone. Now we're going to be the visible representatives," because they lived in a serious time. You remember that, right? Because these were all coming from a Jewish background, and so those that were now following Jesus were ... they were considered outcasts from the their families, so they didn't have a friend in the Jewish people. And the Romans were very suspicious of them, they thought this was a new cult. Would this be competing with Caesar and allegiance to Caesar? And so, they didn't like them either. They didn't have any friends except for the other followers of Jesus. That was really it because everybody else was looking at them with a side-eye trying to figure out exactly what was going down with these people. It was a serious time and now Jesus has said to them in this serious time, where six weeks ago they murdered me for this very same message, for these very same teachings, now I want you to continue on as I have done.
That had to be frightening. Because here they are, alone, at least in their mind. Jesus is gone. The spirit has yet to come and infill them. So my guess is that they were timid, they were a bit scared. I would have to imagine that was the case for them. Plus, they were thinking to themselves, "Did he say also that this mission was not just local? He said Jerusalem, Judea, Sumeria and to the ends of the earth. What does that mean for our families? What does this mean for my life? What is this going to do to me?" They had to be thinking about all of those things, but instead of giving themselves to worry, instead of giving themselves to anxiety, they gave themself to dependence on God through prayer. That's what they did. The constantly prayed in that 10 days.
You see, you and I, we need to understand this is a lesson to learn for us, that we can be a people who depend upon God. I imagine that the early church believers, during this time, they were just seeking the face of God. They were just trying to find their way to God. Because at the end of the day, that's what they needed. They didn't know ... They knew they didn't have the power. They knew they didn't have resources. They knew they didn't have the ability to be able to do all this. They didn't have the boldness to be able to do any of these things. Walk like walked, preach the message that Jesus preached, be Jesus' representatives on the earth. This is too much for me. This is overwhelming. And so, they just began to seek God. "God, help us. God, speak to us. God, give us grace." They were dependent.
See, instead of falling back into their competencies, instead of falling back into, maybe the fact that, hey, we got this, we walked with Jesus for a while, they're not falling into that. They're falling into the mercy of who God is because that's where they want ... They found themselves at the feet of Jesus just praying, seeking him. I remember, I've said it, I think, before, maybe years ago, but I still remember this story that I heard an evangelist tell, where he was talking about our need to seek God's face. And he said he was playing hide and seek with his small child, I think maybe a toddler at the time, and he hid so well behind a door that the toddler couldn't find him and was starting to get frustrated. He was walking around everyone, "Daddy, I can't find you," whatever. And so, he said, "I determined that I would give him a little hint."
"And so, from right behind the door where I was, I just stuck my foot out a little bit." He said this, "Because I knew if my child could find my feet, he could find my face." That is a great reminder for us, that when we choose to be people who are dependent in prayer we find the feet of Jesus. That's where we'll be able to see his face. If we find his feet, we'll find his face and that's what we need in times, in serious times in our lives.
So let me ask you, with whatever it is that you may go through in life, whatever it is, maybe circumstance that may be facing you today, the question I have for you is this, do you basically run to worry? Do you run to anxiety? Do you run to commiserate with other people where you can just mutually commiserate about all of the stuff that you're having to walk through? Or, do you run to God and fall at his feet, and trust him with everything, and do you bring your worry and your anxiety and leave it at the feet of Jesus, or do you hang on to it?
You see, the example of those in the early church who were facing serious times and serious things is that what they did is they constantly prayed. They were dependent. You see, we need to be a people who when people see us they see us as a dependent people, that we're dependent upon God. Jesus said, "I'm the vine. You are the branches. In me you can bare much fruit, but apart from me you can do ..."
Nothing. That's what dependent people look like, recognizing we can't do anything of eternal significance unless God does it in us and through us. So it was dependent prayer. But as you know, over that 10 days as they prayed at the conclusion of that 10 days was the time that we refer to as Pentecost and God did exactly what he said he was going to do and the spirit of God shows up and he infills them, and now they begin to share with all of the people there who are hearing in their own language, even though there were many languages represented, and it's really an extraordinary thing. God gives them great boldness, and then God starts to add so many people to the number of the church because they begin preaching the gospel and now, in that one day, 3000 people came to faith in Jesus Christ and were baptized. That is a serious day in the life of the church. 3000 people came to faith and were baptized.
God was doing something, now, extraordinary by his own spirit through them. And do you know what they did? Did they stop praying and get really puffed up about how awesome they are? Nope, they kept praying. In fact, they're praying was devoted. Maybe that'd be the second way I would say it. It's not only dependent but it was devoted. In fact, when you look in Acts chapter two you can find out what this early group of church believers did. It says in verse 42 that they devoted themselves to a few things, the apostles teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They devoted themselves to prayer.
See, what does it look like for us to devote ourself to prayer? Well, it looks like what they did. You see, those early church believers, those early church followers of Jesus, they were devoted to prayer. Here's why, listen, because they saw the example of the apostles and the apostles were devoted to prayer. But why were the apostles devoted to prayer, because Jesus was. That's where they got it. That's where they learned it.
You see, they would watch Jesus and they saw how Jesus was devoted to pray and the apostles learned that we too need to be devoted to pray. If Jesus is actually living life in obedience to and dependence upon the father, then so too must we. And guess what all these early believers are look at. They're looking at the example of the apostles who are devoted in their praying to the lord.
Now, what happened to all of these young believers who were now devoted in prayer? Well, they were beginning to be changed. They were beginning to be more conformed into the image of Christ. Because you know what prayer does, it changes us. That's what prayer does. It changes us. It doesn't change God. God is unchanging. That is the nature of who God is. "I am the lord. I do not change," he says. God is unchanging but when we pray we're not changing God. We are changing as a result.
You see, that's important for us to remember, because when we get devoted to prayer we start, listen, we start getting beyond just having a bumper sticker theology. You know it. Like on your bumper sticker where it just says, "Prayer changes things." I get it. I understand what's being said. It's just not accurate. God changes things. Prayer changes us. God changes things. Prayer changes us.
Now, as God changes us through prayer our circumstances may look extremely different and, in fact, God may rearrange circumstances as he sees fit. Now, it's not a cut on you if you've got that bumper sticker on your car. I'm not coming for you this afternoon. I understand what's being ... what's trying to be said. But what can happen is, we can start to misappropriate our understanding of what prayer really is and who God really is. We're not changing God. God's unchanging. We are changing because we're being drawn in to who he is.
You see, we can have a misunderstanding of what we're doing in prayer if we're not careful. We can feel like, "Hey, when I pray I'm bringing God close." No, you're not. He's pulling you in. Saint Augustine had a really good metaphorical picture of this when he said, "I picture it as if there's a man who is in a small wooden boat who is being tossed about on the sea." He said, "But he sees nearby a very large rock, such that he can take a rope and lasso it and throw it on the rock and he now is able to begin pulling himself to safety. But if he's not careful, and people aren't careful, they could think that he's pulling the rock toward him. When in fact, the rock is drawing him in."
You see, ladies and gentlemen, what we need to remember about prayer is this, is that Jesus is the rock and no matter what we go through in whatever storm that we are living in, prayer in the lasso that we send out to the rock. And what happens is this, not that we draw him to ourselves but that he draws us in and the closer he brings us in the more we are changed. We have to remember that. Pray is a lasso to be able to get to the rock that is going to be able to save us and change us and bring us to the place that we need to be. Why, because we need to devoted in prayer.
Thirdly is disciple prayer. When we look at the early church it's a disciplined prayer. Let me explain what I mean. Pretty simple, Acts chapter number three says this, verse number one, "On one day Peter and John were going up to the temple." Everybody with me? Look at this. They were going up to the temple at the time of prayer, at three in the afternoon. Did you catch that? At the time of prayer. What is that referring to? Well, remember that Peter and John came from a Jewish background and they're in Jerusalem at the temple. There were two primary times that everybody that was there as the people of God would gather to pray. It was in the morning and what they called ... the morning sacrifice and it was built around the two sacrifices, the morning sacrifice and the evening sacrifice. And when those occurred at the temple, the people would gather in the public area of the temple and they would publicly pray.
So the first one would happen at about dawn, and then the next one would happen, according to scripture and tradition, would happen at the ninth hour. Do you know when the ninth hour was? Three pm, three in the afternoon. That's when it would happen. So what are Peter and John doing? Peter and John are actually headed to the temple area and they're going to pray at a, listen to this, at a disciplined time of prayer that they got used to. They were in a rhythm of praying. Now, it doesn't mean ... Did they pray during the rest of their day? Of course. Were they praying as they ministered to people? Of course. Were they praying spontaneously? Of course. But do you know what they had, they had a disciplined time that they were giving themselves to prayer as people of God.
I think that's an extraordinary lesson for us from the early church, because many of us, we talk about it often, we don't have to be ... I can pray anytime, anywhere. Isn't that beautiful thing, by the way? Doesn't matter where I am. If I'm at work in a cubicle and they tell me I can't pray, I'll be like, "Oh, okay," while I'm praying. Well, you're in school. You cannot pray in school, "Okay," while I'm praying." I don't ... We can all do that and I thank God for that. But listen carefully, sometimes we get into saying things that aren't actually true of us. I can pray anytime, anywhere, except you're not praying any time, anywhere.
I can pray whenever I want to, thank God for that, but you're not really praying any time. That's why we need disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are not the thing themself, they're actually a vehicle to get us to the thing. And the thing that we're talking about is actually communion with God through his son Jesus, but we need these disciplines in our life because they are good for us. They shape us. They change us. We've got disciplines in our lives in normal things that we do, don't we? We have to discipline our eating, most of us. Sometimes we get a little outside of ourselves in the holidays, I get it, but we have to discipline ourselves. We can't just continue to eat things that are horrifyingly bad for us. We can't just continue to eat as much as we want. We have to discipline ourselves.
So we have a discipline. Why, because it's good for us. We have to have disciplines in our lives that are built into our lives about when we're going to arrive to work, or to the appointment that we're going to or whatever. So we have to know when we're going to leave and when we're going to do it. Those are disciplines that we put into our life because they're good for us. We have disciplines around hygiene. I don't feel like taking a shower but I'm gonna do it for the sake of society. I don't feel like brushing my teeth but I'm gonna do it for the sake of my wife. We have disciplines that we have in our lives because they're good for us. We need spiritual disciplines as well.
Do you have a time and a rhythm where you get together with God? Do you have that? I have no idea what that was but it sounded like it was on a microphone. That was freakish. Hopefully, at our other campuses you didn't hear what just happened. Pretend nothing happened. Start again.
Do you have a disciplined time where you get alone with God and you spend time with him? Not just, "Hey, I can do that anytime." Most of the time, when people talk about I can do that anytime, means that they don't do it any time. Is there a discipline in our life because there was in theirs.
Let me give you a fourth thing about prayer. It was directed prayer. And let me scene up so that you understand what I'm talking about. The scene is this, Peter and John are on their way to the temple, like we just saw in Acts chapter three. They're on their way to the temple at the time of prayer. But while they're going there, they're going through one of the gates, the gate called Beautiful, or the Beautiful Gate, and there's a man who's there who has been lame since birth and he's there begging. And so, he asked Peter and John if he could have some money. Peter says, "Silver and gold have we none, but what we have we will give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk." All of a sudden, this guy who could never walk gets up. His ankles are strengthened. His legs are in good order and he doesn't just walk around. The bible talks about him jumping. He is full-blown. He went from, "I can't walk," to, "I'm gonna dunk a basketball." This was miraculous.
When all the people saw it they're like, "Whoa, what just happened?" And Peter's like, "I've been trying to tell you folks, this is Jesus. This isn't anything about us. This isn't anything about our power. This is the power of the resurrected son of God, the one that you have put to death. And I know you did it in ignorance, but it's time for you to repent because this is the one who can do all of these things." And as he preached, everybody started paying real close attention. And by the way, the outcome of that, where we knew from Acts chapter two that 3000 were saved in one day, it says after this that there were 5000. So you might have a couple of more thousand people that had believed the message of the gospel. And do you think the religious leaders were happy about this? Not at all. They were inflamed by it.
And so, you know what they did? They arrested Peter and John and they threw them in jail. And then, they stayed a night in jail. And then, when they got up the next morning, they brought them before the religious leaders and they basically gave them the business. They said to Peter and John, "Hey, don't do that anymore. I don't want you talking about, or preaching in Jesus name. Do not do this anymore." And they were like, "Yeah, thanks for the advice. We're not doing that because we are going to obey God rather than men and this is the mission he's given us. He's equipped us to do this and we can't help but speak about the things that we have seen and heard. We can't stop talking about this."
And so, what the religious leaders did is they threatened them again, and then they cut them loose. Where do you think Peter and John went? First place they went when they got out of jail is, they went with the other believers. And what do you think they did? You know what they did. Acts four, on their release Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they, they, the gathered group of believers, heard this they raised their voices together in prayer to God. Listen to what they said.
"Sovereign Lord," they said, "You made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in it. You spoke by the holy spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David," and then they quote it, "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers ban together against the lord and against his anointed one. Indeed, Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in the city to conspire against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had to 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."
And after they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. To answer your question, I don't know exactly what that was all about. Did God just go, "Yeah." Did God time it such that this was a natural occurrence so that God in his sovereignty timed it simultaneously, maybe. Was this the devil shaking in his boots, potentially, I don't know. Then they said, "And they were all filled with the holy spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."
Do you know what I learned about this? That this prayer was directed prayer. Peter and John get out. They go back to the believers and they begin to pray. And do you know what they prayed? Listen carefully, they prayed the word. They prayed the word of God. That's what they did. They prayed the word of God. It was directed prayer. They weren't grabbing it out of thin air. They were praying the word of God. Did you hear how they started, "Sovereign lord, the maker of the heavens and earth and everything in them." Do you know what they were doing? They were saturating their prayer with Genesis one, with Exodus 20, with Nehemiah nine, with Psalm 1:46, with Isiah 42, that's what they were doing.
And then, after that they started quoting directly Psalm two, quoting it directly and saying, "As David wrote, why do the nations rage against your anointed one?" Well, they were applying this to their exact circumstance and basically saying, "We know the nations are raging against your anointed one but give us boldness to fulfill the mission that God has given us in Jesus." They prayed the word.
As you've heard me say before, if you wanna know that your prayers are spirit-lead, make sure they are scripture fed. You know why, because the word of God is the sword of the spirit. If you wanna know for sure that you are praying the will of God, pray the word of God.
This is what we have to be able to know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Instead of just grasping out of thin air, we can actually pray from the rhythm of scripture in our lives. And we do, it starts to shake us up and shake up the things that are around us as well.
You see, in my time alone with the lord I'm, right now, in Luke's gospel. I was in John's gospel. I spent, listen to this, I spent five and a half months in John's gospel in my devotional time. Your saying, "That seems like a long time." Yeah, because I could read the whole book, the entirely of John in half an hour. I could read the whole thing. But I'm stopping and I'm spending time and letting God speak to me through his word and I am basing, I do this every morning, and I'm basing ... My morning praying is based around what God is revealing in his word and I let the word direct and open up my praying. Why, because I wanna pray consistent with the heart and the will of God.
Jesus says if you ask anything in my name, that is not just at the end of a pray going, "In Jesus' name," because you may have nothing to do with the heart, and the character and the will of Jesus when you pray. "I want a Porsche. I want a lot of money. I wanna win the lottery. In Jesus name." And Jesus goes, "Not what I had in mind." In Jesus' name means consistent with the will of God in Christ. And how do we know the will of God, by the word of God.
If you wanna make sure that your prayers are spirit-led, make sure they are scripture-fed. The early church teaches us that. It was directed prayer, prayer from the word of God. Let me give you a ... Let me give you one more, here.
Doubting prayer. You're going, "What? Did you save the worst one for last? Why would I wanna know about doubting prayer? That's not what I'm supposed to be about." Well, stay with me here for a moment. I think it's gonna encourage you. Look in Acts chapter 12. It says, "It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church." Remember, I told you it was a serious time. They were persecuting the believers and they were intending to persecute these believers. "Herod already had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. And when he saw that this met with the approval among the Jews," they were happy about that, "He proceeded to seize Peter also." Why, because Peter was a leader among all of these new believers. This happened during the festival of Unleavened Bread.
After Herod arrested Peter, he put him in prison handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. That seems overbearing. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the passover, so Peter was kept in prison but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. You're going, "Gerry, that doesn't sound like doubting prayer to me." It isn't. The church was earnestly praying to God for him, "God, would you rescue your servant, Peter? God, we don't think that you are done with him. We know the mission you have called us all to and the role that you have given Peter. God, would you set him free because we know that Herod intends to do him harm but, God, would you intervene and would you release him." They were earnestly praying, right-hearted, earnestly praying.
And so, look what happened. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers bound with two chains and centuries stood guard at the entrance. It doesn't sound like a good scenario for Peter. Suddenly, however, an angel of the lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. The angel struck Peter on the side and woke him up, "Quick, get up," he said and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. When this had dawned on him he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. And when she recognized Peter's voice she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening the door and she exclaimed, "Peter's at the door." "You're out of your mind," they told her, "You are out of your mind."
And when she kept insisting that it was so they said, "It must be his angel." But Peter kept on knocking and when they opened the door and they saw him, they were astonished. The very thing they were asking God for God did and they didn't believe it. "Please, let Peter go." "It's Peter." "Hey, it's Peter, everyone." And then, they all respond, "You are out of your mind." Why are we out of our mind? Isn't this what we've been asking God for? God didn't something for the early church.
The reason this is encouraging is because God can do more with your doubting prayer than your non-prayer. Sometimes, listen to this, sometimes in God's grace when we just show up and we seek him, even though we're weak, even though our faith isn't super special at that time. By the way, this just blows up the idea that you can faith God into doing everything, the name it, claim it crowd. This just blows it to pieces. They had no expectation. They did really believe that God was gonna come through on the prayers that they were praying because when the answer to their prayer showed up the door they didn't believe it and they thought people were out of their mind. "You've gotta be kidding me. That ain't him. You're crazy." Haven't you just been asking God to do this? And God did it.
Aren't you glad that God meets us sometimes, even in our weakness in praying, and that maybe when we pray and we're not so strong, and maybe when we pray and we're not so full of all the power that we think, sometimes we just think that and we're confusing ourselves, but we think we're something special but we're just not and realize, "Oh, man. I'm weak and I don't have a lot of faith but I keep showing up," god might just surprise you?
Open the door and you're like, "I did not think you were gonna do it, but he did." That's good news for us. Now, I tell you all of these things briefly because I wanna sum up what the early church teaches us. Simply put it's this, the early church teaches us that prayer is better experienced than explained. Prayer is better experienced than explained. You see, what we see in the book of Acts with the early church, listen to this, what we don't see in the book Acts in the early church is a lot of explanation of how to pray. What we see is that they did it. They didn't just talk about it. They got about it. Which, in my mind, I've heard people say, "Man, Gerry, I wish you would preach on prayer 52 weeks, solid year, just preach on prayer." Listen, I'd rather we actually pray.
Because the early church teaches us that prayer is better experienced than it is explained. You know how you learn to pray, praying. That's how you learn. You know how you learn to swim, swimming. Get in the water. That's how you learn.
So with that in mind, I'm done talking but we're not done meeting. Because instead of just talking about it, we're gonna be about it for a few moments. What I'm gonna ask you to do is in a moment I'm going to get on my knees. And for those that are either A, physically able or would desire to do that you can join me by getting on yours. Here on this campus and on any campus. If you don't want to, no problem there either. This isn't some spiritual comparison study. "Who got on their knees? They're the only people that care about prayer. Who stayed in their seat? They don't really care about prayer." That's not what's happening here. We are not comparing ourselves to one another. But if you wanna get on your knees, I'd encourage you to do it. But if you don't, nobody's gonna look sideways at you. You can stay in your seat, no problem.
And here's what I'm gonna ask you to do, focus for a few moments on dependence, dependence. Just seek his face. That's is, seek his face, not for what he can give you but for who he is, not for what he can for you but for who he is right now. Depend on him. And when we get on our knees we're gonna hear a song that'll be played over us, but that song will be a prayer that we can put in our hearts, and in our minds and in our mouths as we interact with who God is for these few moments.
So here, at the Crosspoint campus, Lockport, Cheektowaga, anybody who wants to join, I'm gonna ask those of you who wanna join me on your knees feel free to do that. You've got some room right there where you are. If you wanna stay in your seat, then feel free to do that. And as we take a moment to pray let's just depend on God and let this song be our prayer. Take it and just let this be a prayer before the lord. Let's go before ...
On behalf of our brothers and sister at all of our church campuses, we are coming as people who are dependent upon who you are. You are the sovereign lord, the maker of the heavens and the earth and everything in them. We confess that your word teaches that. And so, we can rely on the fact that as the sovereign one nothing will happen in the lives of your children that you don't know about. Nothing will happen in the lives of your children that you will not walk with them in. Nothing and no circumstance can surprise you. You know everything.
Sovereign god, you know the need of every person who is standing is extraordinary need of prayer this day, whether that's the need of a miraculous healing, or whether that's the need of them being freed from that which has held them captive, or whether that is a need for comfort in the face of loss or tragedy, you know what the need is and by your spirit, even now through your people, you are ministering a grace that is like the balm of Gilead that can anoint the mind and the heart with your peace because you will keep, in perfect peace, the mind who is fixed upon you. That if we are anxious for anything, but in everything through pray and supplication with thanksgiving, if we make our request known to you, God, then the peace that passes understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ, Jesus. May it be so in the lives of our brothers and sisters who stand in extraordinary need of you. May you be everything to them that they need you to be, because you are.
You are who we need and I pray, God you would deepen all of our love, you would deepen all of our faith, you would deepen our compassion for brothers and sisters in need and for a world that is lost like sheep without a shepard who are harassed and helpless. Thank you for the privilege of being able to approach you, God. It is only because of the blood of you son Jesus, because there is one mediator between God and man, the Man-Christ, Jesus. And it is in his name, in accordance with his will, that we come and lay all of these things before you now. We lay our anxiety. We lay our worry. We cast all of our cares upon you because you care for us. And we pray you would shape us more into your image for your glory. In Jesus' name, amen.
All right, stay where you are for just a second and look this way. Before you leave, as a word of application, if you have not gotten to a place in your heart and in your life where you've got a time, a disciplined time that you actually spend with an open word and spending time in prayer with God, then I wanna ask you to take a challenge I'm gonna offer you. Here it is. 10 days of dependence, 10 days. Start there. That's where the church was, 10 days. Let's start there. Not because 10 days is the end-all, because 10 days begins a process of what it looks like to build a rhythm of spending time in the presence of God and letting him begin to change us, and shape us and mold us more into his image. 10 days of dependence.
If you need a reminder of that, make sure that you check on any of the social media platforms of The Chapel because each day, for the next 10 days, we're gonna give you just a little reminder,. 10 days of dependence, maybe a verse, so that you can spend your time knowing him deeply.
I love you, folks. I hope we'll be a church that's serious about prayer in our hearts because prayer is better experienced than just explained. So let's be about it and not just talk about it, so that God can do what he wants to do through his people in his mission in the world that we live in.