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A PRAYING CHURCH

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SITUATION

The text before us this afternoon arrest our attention with the reality that the preacher is constantly threatened by enemies whose purpose and plan is to mistreat and put him/her to death. These enemies are identified as the Flesh, the World, and the Devil.
Let me drop this piece of information off while I’m in the vicinity: These enemies are very real and formidable. The Bible warns us:
John 10:9 NASB95
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:10 NASB95
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
see
1 Peter 5:8 NASB95
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Zechariah 13:7 NASB95
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,” Declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.
Zechariah 13
My contention this afternoon is that because every preacher/pastor is a constant target for the enemy, what he needs more than anything else is “A Praying Church”.
See
Acts 12:1–4 NASB95
Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people.
I want to suggest today that Herod is THE ENEMY, and that he is synonomous to Satan in this text. Satan is is always threatening to mistreat (imprison) and put to death the preacher. He uses all kinds of devices:
Acts 12:1–3 NASB95
Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread.
Consider the following sobering survey results of the personal and professional lives of the clergy:
Consider the following sobering survey results of the personal and professional lives of the clergy:
- 90% of pastors work more than 46 hours a week
- 80% believed that pastoral ministry affected their families negatively
- 33% said that being in ministry was an outright hazard to their family
- 75% reported a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry
- 50% felt unable to meet the needs of the job
- 90% felt they were inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands
- 70% say they have a lower self-esteem now than when they started out
- 40% reported a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month
- 37% confessed having been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.

COMPLICATION

The problem of the preacher being under the constant threat of being mistreated and put to death is compounded or complicated by the fact that :

THE PREACHER MOST OFTEN HAS TO ENDURE THESE THREATS ALONE

Earlier we observe that Peter and John were placed into prison after they healed the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate; but, this scene finds Peter alone. This image leads me to believe that most Pastors don’t have many true friends.
“Since relational desires and interactions are intrinsic to human nature, it ought to strike us as odd that so many pastors are relatively friendless. That’s not to say that pastors are disliked or un-cared for. On the contrary, pastors are generally loved and well-known. However, most pastors I know suffer from extreme feelings of loneliness. Many believe that outside of their ministry acquaintances who pastor other churches, they are truly friendless.
Hartman, D. (2017). Lies Pastors Believe: 7 Ways to Elevate Yourself, Subvert the Gospel, and Undermine the Church (p. 78). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Since relational desires and interactions are intrinsic to human nature, it ought to strike us as odd that so many pastors are relatively friendless. That’s not to say that pastors are disliked or uncared for. On the contrary, pastors are generally loved and well-known. However, most pastors I know suffer from extreme feelings of loneliness. Many believe that outside of their ministry acquaintances who pastor other churches, they are truly friendless. Now, I doubt there are many pastors turning to volleyballs for friendship (although I did know a pastor who called his KJV Bible “James”). However, few feel they have someone who knows them intimately.

Hartman, D. (2017). Lies Pastors Believe: 7 Ways to Elevate Yourself, Subvert the Gospel, and Undermine the Church (p. 78). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Since relational desires and interactions are intrinsic to human nature, it ought to strike us as odd that so many pastors are relatively friendless. That’s not to say that pastors are disliked or uncared for. On the contrary, pastors are generally loved and well-known. However, most pastors I know suffer from extreme feelings of loneliness. Many believe that outside of their ministry acquaintances who pastor other churches, they are truly friendless. Now, I doubt there are many pastors turning to volleyballs for friendship (although I did know a pastor who called his KJV Bible “James”). However, few feel they have someone who knows them intimately.

THE PEOPLE ARE OBLIVIOUS TO THE PERILS THAT THE PREACHER FACES

Peter is by himself. Herod has locked him up in prison with the intention to mistreat him and to put him to death. It is not the case in the text, but it is the case in our context that while the preacher is being singled out for attack, the people are oblivious to the perils that he faces because they are preoccupied with other things. See
2 Corinthians 11:26 NASB95
I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
Church folks can sometimes be the preacher’s worst enemy for the mere fact that they are disengaged from his struggles.

There’s a final reason why a handful of disgruntled members seems like an army. Often the few are powerful personalities, and so the rest of the church, which may actually support the pastor, doesn’t want to stand up to them. Wrote one pastor on the survey: “I presently have a family who fights my ministry. No matter what I do, it is wrong, and most of their criticism is shared with other members of the congregation behind my back. What really hurts, however, is not their criticism and personal attacks, but the lack of support I feel from the local power structure.” When the congregational majority becomes the “silent majority,” pastors feel all alone. “My leadership style led to conflict with a very dominant figure in the congregation who wanted everything done his way,” tells one minister. “I felt for a time that all the other church folk left me to fight the battle alone. The lack of support from those I thought were behind me brought me my greatest sense of discouragement ever in ministry.”

The sad reality today is that the Preacher is in peril but the People are Preoccupied with other things.

RESOLUTION

The action of the People of God in the text show us how to support the Preacher when the enemy intends to mistreat him and to put him to death. says that “they gathered together”.
Acts 12:12 NASB95
And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
The Church must gather together. That is we must come together, assemble in the same place, with our hearts and our minds on the same thing. The text says that many were gathered together....Notice this afternoon that they:
Did Not Gather to Rally: they did not go down to the Jerusalem jail with picket signs saying “Free Peter”! They did not go to the News station so that the March could be televised. But, they did gather together.
Did Not Gather to Riot: They did not pick up bricks and hurl them into the windows of merchants. They did not fill their gasoline containers and burn down innocent businesses and establishments. They did not use the occasion to commit crimes of opportunity. But, the Bible says that “many were gathered together”.
Might I suggest to you all this afternoon that they gathered together to Reach out to the Lord in Prayer. That’s what the text says …”and were praying.” They were praying and while Peter was under heavy guard, God dispatched His angel to release him from his chains, guide him out of the prison, open closed doors (gates), and deliver him to safety.
Brothers and Sisters, we too, like the People of God in this text must gather together to pray for the Man of God. But, I believe that we ought to gather before the enemy launches his attack. Because the same God that can get him out of trouble, can keep us from getting into trouble. We ought to gather to Pray that Jesus would be a fence around him everyday, so that, he can be free to carry on the work of the ministry of preaching Christ crucified on a cross at a hill called Calvary. Free to tell of His death, burial, and bodily resurrection on the third day morning.
I remember, as a young boy, hearing the preacher laboring with the Word, trying earnestly to appropriate it to his listeners. I believe every preacher/pastor shares the sentiment of those ever faithful words: “I wish I had a praying Church.”
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