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Acts 4:23-31
*Principles for a Powerful Prayer Meeting*
*(Part I)*
“When [Peter and John] were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
“for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’
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.”[1]
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he first disciples asked God for boldness in their speech.
Just as they sought divine boldness in their speech, so they were bold in their prayers.
Unfortunately, modern Christians have often confused brashness for boldness.
For, though many are brash and demanding of God, few Christians pray with boldness.
Too often we have observed some of God’s professed people who attempt to order the devil about, calling their efforts prayer.
At other times, I have listened to some among the professed people of God demand that God accede to their demands.
Such demands are infantile at best, designed primarily to impress the unthinking.
Boldness in prayer is seizing upon the promises of God and refusing to let go.
We have seen many promises concerning prayer in the previous weeks.
Among those promises is that which is recorded in *John 14:13, 14*.
Recall the promise of the Lord.
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
As we unpacked that promise in an earlier message, we saw that our Lord has committed Himself to answer His children if we petition the Father in Christ’s Name, placing ourselves in the position of accepting what Christ would give, and if we seek the glory of the Father in the Son.
In other words, we are to seek God’s glory in all things.
A congregation must commit itself to united prayer if it is to witness the power of God.
However, we might well ask what is necessary to have a powerful prayer meeting.
Perhaps we have witnessed at some time gatherings that said prayers, though having scant impact on the advance of the Faith.
None of us would be willing to settle for such mediocrity.
Therefore, we must seek to be effective in our united prayers.
What conditions must be met in order to ensure a powerful prayer meeting?
No finer instruction concerning the principles underlying a powerful prayer meeting can be found than to review the events recorded in *Acts 4:23-31*.
Join me, then, in exploring the Word of God to discover the principles for a powerful prayer meeting.
The First Response* — When a need is apparent, or when anticipating a need that may arise at some future point, the people of God should first look to God.  Tragically, the first response too often among the churches of our Lord is to call a meeting to discuss the need and to determine what human resources may be available.
I confess that I do not watch too much television.
However, when I do watch the tube, I find the advertisements are often more humorous than is the programming that is provided.
Perhaps producers should hire advertising agencies to write their scripts.
Among the current ads that I find somewhat humorous is one promoting a major courier company.
In the present series of ads, two individuals are trying to find a way to expedite sending a parcel from their location in Canada to Germany.
In that particular ad, the two men decide that it is impossible.
This gives the courier company opportunity with a voice over to tell how efficient they are at delivering packages internationally.
In the second ad in this series, the same two have called in a woman representing senior management.
She reviews the need and after pondering the challenge, suggests that the team break into groups.
In much the same way, whenever Christians face a need within a congregation, we seem naturally to look first to the denomination to which we are attached, hoping that some powerful individual within the denomination will supply our need.
I served as an interim pastor for one congregation that indeed had some great needs.
Throughout the entire first year, the automatic response of the deacons to every challenge we faced as we grew was to recommend that we phone denominational headquarters for help.
They had been nursed for such a long time that they were incapable of self-dependence, and they did not think of seeking the face of God.
Perhaps it will be helpful for us to review how this prayer meeting came to be.
Peter and John had gone up to the Temple to pray.
As they were entering the Temple compound through the Beautiful Gate, they encountered a man who was over forty years of age begging for alms.
This man had been crippled since birth.
Peter, in the Name of Jesus the Messiah, lifted the man to his feet and he was healed.
Dancing and shouting praises to God, the man attracted a crowd wondering what was going on.
Peter, seizing the opportunity of people seeking an explanation of what was happening, declared that the man, known to all of them, was now in perfect health, as was obvious to all that were present that day.
He continued by calling on the people to believe the message of life through faith in Jesus, the Risen Messiah [*Acts 3:1-26*].
Sadducees, coming upon the commotion, were “greatly annoyed” that the two men were “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” [*Acts 4:2*], and they therefore hailed them before the Sanhedrin.
Peter boldly declared that though the Council had crucified Jesus, God had raised Him from the dead.
“Find fault with us if you will,” Peter contended, “but how do you explain that this man now stands before you in perfect health.”
He continued by boldly declaring to these learned scholars, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved” [*Acts 4:12*].
The Council was nonplused.
They could say nothing against the healing, and nothing against the fact that it was through the man Jesus, whom they had crucified, that the man was said to be standing before them.
Nevertheless, in an effort to stop the spread of claims that Jesus was alive, they warned them against speaking anymore in His Name.
Peter and John were united in their response, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” [*Acts 4:19, 20*].
The members of the Sanhedrin issued further threats, and then they released the two Apostles.
Here, the text begins.
Upon release, they went to their friends—they went to the church.
There, they reported all that the chief priests and the Council had said to them.
Upon hearing the threats and understanding the danger of obedience to God, the congregation united in prayer.
How will they pray?
Perhaps we would imagine that they will be cowed by the threats of those who had power to do them harm.
Make no mistake, the disciples faced real danger.
The threats, coming from the highest civil authority—the Council—had the force of law.
Therefore, the disciples did not attempt to laugh off the threats.
Fear of danger drove them to God for His help.
Instead of being frightened into no action at all, they sought God’s intervention.
As an aside of considerable importance, you must know that obedience to Christ in the midst of a hostile environment will be costly.
Facing threats and opposition today, many among the professed people of God retreat, growing silent and subservient to those who issue the threats.
However, if we know our God, we will continue to do right and leave the consequences to Him.
Those gathered to hear the report from the two Apostles prayed fervently, knowledgeably, submissively, in unity and powerfully.
These elements of corporate prayer move the hand of God.
Modern Christians organise too much, and agonise too little.
When did you last see the church spontaneously pray?
Tragically, contemporary churches have become positively Laodicean in the expression of our faith.
Believing ourselves sufficient for every exigency, we seldom feel ourselves compelled to seek the face of God.
We say prayers in a perfunctory manner, but prevailing prayer as a congregation is foreign to us.
Though such statements embarrass some among us, making them feel badly, the situations confronting us as a congregation demand a spiritual response which is lacking in modern church life.
Undoubtedly, some will imagine that I am speaking directly to them and take umbrage because they believe that I am addressing them.
Such people need to take immediate steps to correct the deficit of their lives.
I have nothing in view other than the certainty that the people of God are weakened and impoverished through our failure to turn to God when opposed in our service to God.
I seek only to encourage the people of God to return to the position our forefathers once adopted of acknowledging our weakness and seeking God’s strength.
Faced by the challenges arising from opposition to service before the Lord, the people of God must seek the strength of God.
Preparing for a study of the letters of the Risen Christ to the seven churches of Asia, I noted something that had escaped my attention in previous studies.
In *Revelation 3:8*, I noted that the Son of God said, “I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.
I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied My Name.”
As I studied that verse in the original language, I noted a word that the conjunction */hóti/*, usually translated “because,” was not translated.
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