Faithlife Sermons

Prayer Acts 4:23-31

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The apostles Peter and John had been arrested for healing a lame man, threatened by the Jewish authorities to stop preaching in Jesus’ name, and let go.
Acts 4:23–31 NKJV
23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
The church responded to the situation by praying.
We also need to be a people of prayer!
There are various Hebrew and Greek words translated prayer in the Bible, but the basic meaning is to ask, to petition, to beseech.
As Christians we have the wonderful privilege of making our requests known to God through prayer.

Why can we pray?

Romans 5:1 NKJV
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Hebrews 10:19 NKJV
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,

To whom are we to pray?

God the Father

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven...”
(Matthew 6:6 NKJV)
Ephesians 3:14 NKJV
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
John 16:23 NKJV
23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

Why do we pray to the Father, and not the Son?

Because spiritually, we are one with the Son

1 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Galatians 3:27 NKJV
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Galatians 4:6 NKJV
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit of Jesus in us enables us to address God in the same way that Jesus Himself does - “Abba [Daddy], Father”.

Because we have become one with Jesus, our prayer life is actually supposed to be an extension of the prayer life of Jesus Himself!

Romans 8:34 NKJV
34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Notice that Jesus Himself prays. Who does He pray to? His Father. If we really believe that we have become one with Jesus, we will do the same!
“and He made all things subject under His [Jesus’] feet and gave Him authority over everyone in the congregation [church], which is His body, the extension of the One Who fills everything in every way.”
(Ephesians 1:22-23, The One New Man Bible)
Our prayer life is to be an extension of Jesus’ own prayer life. That’s why Jesus told us to pray in His name:
John 14:13 NKJV
13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
To act in someone’s name means that you act in their authority and that you represent them. To pray in the Jesus’ name isn’t just about adding “in the name of Jesus” to the end of your prayer. It means that your prayer is representing the prayer of Jesus Himself. It is praying in unison with Jesus.

How can we pray in unison with Jesus?

The answer is simple: by the Holy Spirit
Galatians 4:6 NKJV
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Jude 20 NKJV
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
To pray in the Spirit means to pray in union with the Holy Spirit. He must be the One enegerising, fueling, and carrying our prayer. He is to be the conductor of our prayer life.
We must not assume that we are praying in the Holy Spirit. When we are truly praying in the Spirit, our prayers will be characterised by the following:

There will be a divine flow

John 7:38 NKJV
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
It as though our prayer is being carried along by a strong current within us.

There will be a divine energy in the prayer

1 Corinthians 12:11 NKJV
11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
“works” = energei (Greek)
From which we get our English word “energy”
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”
(James 5:16 NKJV)
The word “fervent” is the same Greek word translated “works” in our previous verse. It is “energei” (EN ER GAY). When we are praying in the Holy Spirit, there will be an energy about our prayer that comes from the Spirit.

There will be divine direction

When you are praying in union with the Spirit, you won’t be stuggling to know what to pray. The Spirit will lead you!
Notice in our opening passage what they did not pray. They did not pray that the persecution would stop. They prayed that the apostles would have boldness!
We need to be led in what we say, when we pray.
1 John 5:14 NKJV
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
It is therefore so important, that before we get into the act of making requests about various things, we first get into the right realm. We must pray from the right realm, and that realm is the Holy Spirit. Once we are there and experience His leading, we can be confident we are praying the right thing.

You will feel what God feels

One thing that the Holy Spirit does, is He impresses on your heart how God feels about something.
There was a time in Israel’s history when the people began to commit sexual immorality with the women of Moab.
As a result, a plague from God began to come on the people.
Numbers 25:6–8 NKJV
6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel.
Numbers 25:10–11 NKJV
10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.
Model of intercession.
Note: he was zealous with Me zeal.
When we are praying in the Holy Spirit about something, we will be so united with Him that we feel what He feels, we will be zealous with His zeal.
This is called intimacy with the Holy Spirt and He wants all of us to have it!
Numbers 25:14–15 NKJV
14 Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father’s house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father’s house in Midian.
Zimri means celebrated
Cozbi means deceitful
We live in an age where all kinds of sexual immorality is celebrated. But it’s a deception! We need to be in tune with how God feels about it, because not everything that society celebrates is celebrated by God. To discern how God feels, we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit!

In closing...

Prayer is much like learning to drive or learning to swim. You have to get in the car, get in the pool to begin. To learn to pray, you have to pray!


We are to pray to God the Father out of our unison with Jesus
Our prayer life is supposed to be an extension of the prayer life of Jesus Himself
We can pray in unision with Jesus through the Holy Spirit
When we pray in the Spirit, there will be divine flow, divine energy, divine direction, and we will feel what God feels
In order to learn to pray, you have to pray!
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