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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ministry that is relevant prays

by Jeff Hegstrom
Prayer is a mark of spiritual health. For the Christian, prayer is like breathing. Prayer is essential for spiritual health, just like breathing is essential for our physical well being.  God’s Word instructs believers in Philippians 4:6-7 to pray “in every situation.”

  • What does prayer mean to you? 
  • How is prayer like breathing?
Prayer is the communication of the soul with the Spirit of the living God. It’s what connects us to Him.  Matthew 18:20 says, “... For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

In the book of Acts, we see the early church praying. Small groups of believers prayed and experienced the presence, peace, and power of Christ.
  • How is prayer a part of your small group? 
  • Is your group able to pray for what really matters because of an openness to share what's really going on in each others’ lives?
  • How does your small group experience the presence, peace and power of Christ when you pray together?
Let’s take a closer look at the role of prayer and how it impacted those who were the early church.  As you look these verses up and read them together from the book of Acts, take time to discuss how the church grew and experienced the presence, peace and power of Christ through prayer.

Prayer became associated with all of life for the early church.  It was a relational experience both with God and others.

  1. The early church was born out of a prayer meeting of 120 people - Acts 1:14, “they all joined together constantly in prayer.” 
  2. Members of the early church prayed when they got together - Acts 2:42, “they devoted themselves … to the fellowship … and to prayer.”
As these early believers lived life together and grew in relationship they responded to every situation out of this new lifestyle of prayer.
  1. When they needed guidance - Acts 1:24, “Then they prayed, Lord you know everyone’s heart.  Show us which of these two you have chosen.” 
  2. Being responsible leaders - Acts 6:4, “and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
  3. When commissioning folks for service - Acts 6:6, “They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.”
  4. When they faced death - Acts 7:59-60, “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed.”
  5. When they were burdened for others’ spiritual needs - Acts 8:15, “When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”
  6. When ministering to the sick and hopeless - Acts 9:40, “Peter got down on his knees and prayed.  Turning toward the dead woman, he said, Tabitha, get up.”
  7. When they were challenged by opposition and danger - Acts 12:5, “Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying.”
  8. When leaving from one place to another - Acts 21:5, “All of the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.”
Prayer was like breathing, it was essential for the early church.  Prayer was part of their relationship with God and each other.  Prayer brought confidence and guidance for all their responses.  And with prayer, Christ was revealed.  Through communion with the Spirit they had so much more than some distant connection. 

The early church experienced Christ being revealed through prayer.

  1. Acts 10:30, “Cornelius … I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon.  Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said...” 
  2. Acts 11:5, “I (Peter) was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision.  I saw something like a large sheet being let down.”
  3. Acts 16:25, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open. and everybody’s chains came loose.”
  4. Acts 22:17-18, “When I (Paul) returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking.  Quick! he said to me, leave Jerusalem immediately.”
For your Small Group:
  • How could your small group begin to experience the presence, peace and power of Christ through prayer? 
  • In what ways does your small group experience prayer as being relational, responsive, and revealing Christ?
Making it personal:
  • What did the Holy Spirit reveal to you about prayer through your time of study? 
  • How will you apply what the Holy Spirit has shown you about prayer? 
  • How will you know when you have experienced prayer like this?
Prayer is one of the "7 Marks of Spiritual Health" in life and ministry.  The RM team will be writing about all seven, the topic this month is prayer.  Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation.

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RM’s vision - to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

Relevant Ministry Inc.
Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

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