*/ Text:/* Acts 16:25-26 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
*26** *And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.”
*/Subject:/* A Prison Prayer Meeting
Introduction: The book of Acts is the *44th *book of the bible.
The book consists of 28 chapters, 1,007 verses and 24,250 words.
The book opens with the Apostles in Prayer but, it closes with Paul in prison.
It commences with Peter and John Preaching at Jerusalem yet, it concludes with Paul preaching the Gospel in Rome.
The book has been called the book of Acts, but if you will read the record, you will discover it is simply, the Holy Spirit working through Peter, Paul and their companions.
For Luke begins his gospel, in his address to his friend and companion, Theophilus, with the beginning of what Jesus began both to do and to say, so then, this Sequel called Acts, continues what he started…
In the first twelve half of the book, we find Peter witnessing to the Jews saying, “Repent.”
But in the last portion of the book, Paul is preaching to the Gentiles and saying, “Believe”
It was Peter that preached on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls joined the church.
Yet, it was Paul who stood before Felix, protested before Festus, preached on Mar’s Hill and almost persuaded Agrippa to be a Christian.
Nevertheless, we find as they preached, Christ was their theme, and the word of God was their weapon.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see God dealing with the Jews, but in the New Testament, he is moving among the nations.
*In Chapter One:* The Apostles prayed and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven.
The first 26 verses are introductory to the book: they speak of three important events: the Great commission, the ascension and the promise of Christ’s return.
But, I believe that the key verse of the book is found at chapter one verse eight:
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
*/In Chapter Two:/* the bible says, and when the day of Pentecost was full come…Peter preached and verse 41 says, 3,000 people came down front and joined the church.
In Chapter Three: Peter and John are on their way to the Temple Prayer meeting, and as they passed what was called the Beautiful gate, there they met a man asking alms of them.
*/In chapter Four:/* After they spoken to this man’ situation, Peter began to preach again and this time, 5000 men joined the ministry.
And the Bible says, “when they had perceived the boldness of Peter and John, they perceived that they were ignorant and unlearned men.
*/In Chapter Five:/* Annanias and Saphia, his wife sold a possession, and held onto part of the money, thinking they were talking to Peter, it is was evident that they lied to the Holy Ghost and the ushers carried them out one by one and laid them beside one another.
*/In Chapter Six:/* the widows are neglected and the deacons are selected to minister to the widows and the orphans.
*/In Chapter Seven:/* Stephen, a man full of faith and power is stoned for the sake of the Gospel.
*/In Chapter Eight:/* A man by the name of Philip had four daughters who were Evangelists, witnessed to a black man (an Ethiopian Eunuch).
*/In Chapter Nine:/* Saul gets a name change as he encounters Christ on the Damascus road.
*/In Chapter Ten:/* Cornelius is praying and he is told to send men to Joppa to inquire of Simon Peter, in order to fulfill his divine assignment.
*/But in chapter sixteen,/* we find two good men in a bad situation.
Shut up, but not shut down.
And we say that they have not shut down because, in the midst of their persecution, they can still sing and pray.
They are shut in but, not shut out, because it does not matter where we are or how bad the situation, where Jesus is, its heaven there.
Isolated but, not excluded because the power of midnight prayer, permeates the walls of a Roman jail, and the bible says that they sang and prayed until.
Not retired from preaching but, on temporary leave.
In Philippi, we find Paul and Silas in prison.
Why do we find men like these locked behind iron bars?
It is because of the preaching of the Gospel (16:16-24).
The second Christian Convert in Europe was very different from the first.
Lydia was converted in a prayer meeting, but it took an earthquake to arouse a jailer.
The jailer's question is one of the most important questions in all the world (16:30).
· Prayer is one of the highest functions and most important privileges of the Christian life.
· Prayer is the immediate desire of the heart of a new life in Christ to talk with God the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
· It is the Holy Spirit which indwells the believer and plants the spirit of prayer within.
· Prayer is often referred to as asking and receiving.
· And if the truth be told, unless there is crisis, trouble or strife in our lives, there usually no prayer life.
· But trouble draws us to the altar, and trials bring us to the cross.
· But prayer much more than asking and receiving.
· As a matter of fact, prayer is the believer means of power, and
· Where there is little prayer, you will find little power.
· There is much prayer, there will be much power.
· Prayer is manifesting the Christian life in communion with God, through his son, our savior and Lord.
· In other words, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask, ask it in the name of Jesus.”
· It is an expression of the heart and thanksgiving to God for his undeserved grace and his mercy toward us.
· Prayer is dependence on God.
· Prayer is a Christian discipline that brings the believer face to face with the Lord.
· Authentic, sincere and fervent Prayer includes:
· Saying prayers and praying prayers are two different things:
· A self-righteous Pharisee excelled in saying prayers
· But a regenerated soul can enjoy the privilege of prayer
· The spirit of prayer is the spirit of a new creature in Christ Jesus.
· The language of prayer is the utterance of the new and regenerate life.
· When Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, passed from his old life into his new life, the Lord said unto him, “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:1).
· As a Pharisee of the Pharisees, Paul had undoubtedly said long prayers.
· When he saw Jesus and heard his voice, it was then that Paul surrendered and said, “What wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
· The disciples of Jesus did not ask him to teach them to preach, but
· Their request was, “Lord, Teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)
· The gift of prayer is for all those that love the Lord.
· The power of prayer is committed to every believer.
· A song writer penned the words of that great hymn of the Christian church:
*/I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in /*
*/And then a little light from heaven filled my soul/*
*/It bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above /*
*/And just a little talk With Jesus made me whole./*
*/I may have doubts and fears, my eyes be filled with tears/*
*/But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night.
*/I go to him in prayer; he knows my every care /*
*/And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right./*
*/Have a little Talk with Jesus Tell him all about out struggles/*
*/Hear your fainted cry Answer by and by/*
*/Feel a little prayer wheel turning Know a little fire is burning/*
*/Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.
· Nevertheless, when we consider the pattern of prayer, we find that Jesus gave some directions or general rule concerning prayer before he quoted the model prayer:
· And these negative teachings or instructions are found in Matthew 6:5-8.
· He says, “when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, and he goes on to say
· “The hypocrites pray in public, and they pray long, loud and repetitious, because they like to be seen of men.
· They stand up so that everybody can see them.
· Jesus goes on to remind them of those vain repetitions.
· And perhaps, this is a good time to pause, peruse or examine our prayer life.
· Think of the phrases and words used over and over again.
· Take out the vain repetitions, and the prayer would be short, concise and sweet.
· In other words, there are some of us who are still praying the same prayer, using the same words, and calling the same names every time we pray.
· There is nothing wrong with calling the same names but,
· In your thanksgiving, adoration and intercession, the Lord has been better to you today than he was on yesterday.
· The Prayers of Jesus and of Paul teach us how to pray.