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Spirit-Filled Prayer Causes Spirit-Filled Living

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Acts 4:23-33

"Being let go they went to their own company." It is an old saying that "birds of like feather flock together." Just as when the needle is set free from every hindrance, it will gravitate to the pole, so those hearts kindled with the same spiritual flame will be powerfully attracted one to another. This love for those who love the Lord is an evidence of heavenly kinship, and a mark of our separation from the world. As soon as Peter and John had "reported," they all fled together in prayer to their city of Refuge, which was the God of their Risen Lord. Prayer is the secret of all strength and consolation, while as servants we suffer for His name. Let us notice some things about this prayer:—

I.      It was Believing. "Lord, Thou art God." They did not pray into unresponsive space, they talked into the very ear of God. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is." Their God was the God "which made heaven, earth, sea, and all that is in them. He is "the God of creation, not of evolution.

Dr. Wilbur Chapman wrote to a friend to tell him about a prayer experience he had learned while visiting England. At a missions meeting he had received a note saying that an American missionary was going to pray for God's blessing down on their work. The missionary was known as Praying Hyde. When Dr. Chapman finished his sermon and gave the invitation, fifty people accepted Christ as their Savior. As he was leaving the meeting hall, Dr. Chapman asked Mr. Hyde, if he would pray for him.

Dr Chapman gives this account of that prayer meeting. “Hyde came to my room, locked the door, and dropped on his knees, and waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from his lips. I could hear my own heart thumping, and his beating. I felt hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then he looked up with tears streaming down his face, and said, "O God." Then for five minutes at least he was still again; and then, when he knew that he was talking with God there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for me as I had never heard before. I rose from my knees knowing what real prayer was. I believed in prayer as I never did before.

II.     It was United. "They lifted up their voice to God with one accord" (v. 24). They had already proved the value of united prayer. They would trust to see the power of it again. They seemed never to forget the words of Jesus. "If two of you shall agree," etc. (Matt. 18:19). United believing prayer is one of the mightiest weapons God has put within the reach of His people. Every Church, no matter how small, has this sword of overcoming power hanging on its belt. However, if a sword is to do its work, it must be yielded to the hand of its master. Too many Christian’s swords have been too long in the scabbard of unbelief.

St. Catherine's Monastery near Mt. Sinai, Egypt, has preserved the remains of three monks in accordance with their last requests made about 12 centuries ago. One was a doorkeeper who asked to hold his job forever and whose mummy has since been sitting beside the door he guarded in life. The other two monks took a vow, when young, to devote their lives to perpetual adoration, one praying while the other was asleep and vice versa.

Thereafter, they never saw nor spoke to each other again although they occupied adjoining cells. Their only connection was a chain that ran through the wall and was fastened to their wrists, which each would tug as a signal when ready to begin and end his prayers. They died together and today their skeletons lay by the same chain.

III.     It was Scriptural (vv. 25-28). These holy men of God, possessed by the same Spirit which taught the prophets of old, are neither afraid nor ashamed to make mention of David as the author of Psalm 2 (Why do the nations rage? Why do the people waste their time with futile plans?). They were not afraid or ashamed to interpret his words as the infallible testimony of the Holy Ghost. It will give power to our petitions if the Word of God dwells in us richly.

IV.   It was Definite. "Now, Lord grant that with all boldness they may speak Thy Word" (v. 29). How could they speak the Word of God with boldness, if they did not know assuredly what was the Word of God? They prayed for, and expected, an immediate answer. "Now," they spread out their needs as Hezekiah did the letter, and with the same sudden, overwhelming manifestations (Acts 14:3). There is a great difference between saying prayers and making a direct personal appeal to God for a present declaration of His saving power.

Reinhold Niebuhr's discerning prayer has been quoted frequently: O God, give us Serenity to accept what cannot be changed, Courage to change what should be changed, and Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

V.    It was Christ-Honoring. "That signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy Holy Child Jesus" (v. 30). They were far more concerned about the honor of Christ than the honor of the Church. This is always characteristic of Spirit-filled lives. If the Name of Jesus does not get the prominence, signs and wonders will not be done by the "stretching forth of His hand." Our self-sufficiency will always paralyze the wonder-working hand of the Holy Spirit.

Although the discipline of prayer may not bring the desired miracle, the Christian is challenged to continue conversations with God. Not that the Father needs to be reminded of human problems so much as mankind needs to be reminded of God's presence and power.

VI.   It was Answered. "And when they prayed the place was shaken; they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and space the Word of God with boldness" (v. 31). To be filled with the Spirit is God's answer to all our needs as His servants and witnesses. There is a great difference between speaking the Word of God and giving the opinions of men about it. The one is the wheat, the other is the chaff (Jer. 23:28).

Shortly after the Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 1924, it almost had to close. The creditors were about to foreclose at noon on a certain day. Pres. Lewis S. Chafer met with his faculty at the office, praying fervently that God would provide. Present was Dr. Harry Ironside who prayed in his characteristic style: "Lord, we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money."

Meanwhile, a tall Texas businessman stepped into the seminary business office, saying: "I just sold two carloads of cattle in Fort Worth, and I feel compelled to give the money to the seminary. I don't care if you need it or not, but here's the check!"

The surprised secretary took the check, and timidly knocked on the door of the prayer meeting. When Dr. Chafer took the check out of her hand, it was for the exact amount of the debt.

Turning to Dr. Ironside, Chafer said: "Harry, God sold the cattle!"

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