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  • This is a production of World Video Bible School.

  • To God be the glory!

  • When the very first Christians began assembling together right at the start of

  • their Christian lives,

  • Luke tells us about their habit, or manner, of behaving:

  • "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the

  • breaking of bread, and in prayers," Acts 2:42.

  • From the very beginning of not only their Christian lives,

  • but the life of Christianity, prayer was a central part.

  • To study prayer is to look at something that is a part of the public worship

  • assemblies, but also,

  • it's to be a vital part of our daily private lives.

  • "Prayer" is from the Latin word "prex,"

  • meaning "petition," "entreaty," "request."

  • And that's what prayer is.

  • It's "the sincere desire of the heart expressed in words to God,"

  • Romans 10 and verse 1.

  • It's not simply an attitude or desire, but an audible expression.

  • Jesus said in Matthew 7 and verse 7: "Ask and it shall be given unto you..."

  • Prayer is "pouring out the soul in words expressed to God,"

  • like Hannah did in 1 Samuel 1 and verse 15.

  • Long ago, someone beautifully, simply, expressed it this way.

  • "The Bible is God's way to talk to us;

  • and prayer is our way of talking to God."

  • In the days of the Bible, God sometimes spoke to man directly.

  • You might recall that He spoke to Moses through a burning bush.

  • He spoke to the prophet Balaam through a donkey.

  • He spoke to men through visions and angels, and even directly.

  • We read in Hebrews 1 and verse 1, that: "God, who at various times and in various ways

  • spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has

  • in these last days spoken to us by His Son..."

  • In ancient times, man, at times, was able to speak to God directly.

  • When Jesus walked the earth, men

  • who spoke to him were speaking to God in the flesh.

  • And when we approach God in prayer,

  • we are engaging in the highest honor that a person could ever hope to achieve.

  • What if you could speak to the person that you thought was the most powerful

  • and influential person to ever live?

  • Maybe Socrates or Einstein,

  • Thomas Jefferson, or Ronald Reagan.

  • In prayer you approach One endlessly, more wise, more powerful,

  • and more able.

  • It would be a thrill to be able to go back through time

  • and to visit a worship service of the early church.

  • To hear the matters of concern that filled those prayers;

  • to hear the ways that they praised their Heavenly Father; to hear their

  • dependency

  • as they pleaded with Him.

  • Did you know that prayer preceded

  • the establishment of the church, Acts 1:23 to 26?

  • It immediately followed the establishment of the church, Acts 2 and verse 42.

  • And prayer was

  • center stage

  • during the church's first crisis.

  • Luke records in Acts, chapter 4, verse 23:

  • And being let go, they went to their own companions

  • and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

  • So when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord

  • and said:

  • "Lord, Thou art God,

  • Which has made heaven and earth and the sea,

  • and all that in them is,

  • who by the mouth of Thy servant David has said:

  • 'Why did the heathen rage,

  • and the people imagine vain things? The

  • kings of the earth stood up and the rulers were gathered

  • together against the Lord and against His Christ.

  • For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus,

  • whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod

  • and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered

  • together

  • for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determine before to be done.

  • And now, Lord, behold their threatening,

  • and grant unto Thy servants that with all boldness they may speak Thy word,

  • by stretching forth Thine hand to heal,

  • and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy holy child Jesus."

  • And when they had prayed,

  • the place was shaken where they were assembled together,

  • and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,

  • and they spake the word of God with boldness.

  • And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of the one

  • soul;

  • neither said any of them

  • that all of the things which he possessed with his own, but they had all

  • things common."

  • Notice that Peter and John had been threatened.

  • Then the church prayed.

  • They recognize God for Who He is: the Lord of heaven and earth. Verse 24.

  • They quoted scripture in their prayer.

  • Verse 25.

  • They recognized the eternal purpose of God on the earth. Verse 27

  • and 28.

  • They asked for God's help with their enemies, with their own courage,

  • and in showing that they were preaching the truth. Verse 29 and 30.

  • And I want you to see

  • that their prayer brought results.

  • After the prayer,

  • they spoke with boldness. Verse 31.

  • They were united. Verse 32.

  • And they were generous. Verse 32.

  • What an example this is for us.

  • Now, I want us to look at prayer in the life of the church,

  • and also in our lives as individual Christians. And to do this,

  • let's ask some questions about this very vital and basic part of our lives as

  • Christians.

  • The first question to ask

  • is: "Who should pray?"

  • When we're talking about public prayer in the church, then the answer of "who"

  • is restricted.

  • Paul wrote to Timothy, in 1 Timothy 3:15, and said:

  • "But if I am delayed,

  • I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God,

  • which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

  • This verse reveals the purpose of Paul in writing this letter to Timothy.

  • Timothy was the preacher for the church in Ephesus and Paul needed to help

  • a younger preacher to know

  • how to teach the church how to conduct itself.

  • And among the several things that Paul covers in the letter,

  • he teaches about prayer.

  • He says in 1 Timothy 2 and verse 8:

  • "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere,

  • lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting..."

  • Now this verse and the verses that follow, shows God's will that the men

  • of the church lead in prayer.

  • Now, this is not because men are superior to women in God's eyes, or in

  • the eyes of those

  • who are part of the body of Christ.

  • But, our Lord specified who it is He wants taking this leadership role,

  • including in the practice of public prayer and worship.

  • But you will notice that the Lord's commands are even more specific than just

  • the male members of the church.

  • First of all, He says "men with holy hands" should lead us in prayer.

  • Now, while many find from this guidance for

  • swaying and raising their hands in worship, they miss

  • the significance of what Paul is actually urging here.

  • He's not commanding a certain posture.

  • He is calling for men who lead pure, committed and righteous lives, to be before

  • us leading prayer.

  • A man whose attendance is woefully or willfully inadequate,

  • should not lead us in worship and prayer.

  • A man whose sinful habits, his lifestyle, or language away from the building, is known

  • to a few or some or many, should not lead us in prayer and worship.

  • Domineering, divisive men

  • whose attitude in handling a brother is ugly and unChristlike, should not lead

  • us in prayer and worship.

  • We have lost sight of what God wants from our worship when who leads us in

  • prayer is reduced to whatever warm bodies happen to be in the building at that

  • given service.

  • God requires men with holy hands

  • to lead us in prayer and worship.

  • But second, "men without wrath" should lead us in worship.

  • Now, wrath is more than anger. It includes the concepts of violence and bullying.

  • It's from a word meaning "to cause to go up in smoke," and it denotes

  • "a violent movement of air, water, the ground, or animals, or men."

  • It's the one who is out of control and without the people skills

  • needed to lead in any sense.

  • A wrathful prayer leader negatively impacts not only himself,

  • but those that he leads.

  • It would be a major distraction to try and follow such a volatile leader.

  • And third:

  • Paul says "men without dissension" should lead us in worship.

  • The idea is of one feuding and disputing.

  • We may forget that God sees our conduct when we're not behind the microphone.

  • God is surely displeased when promoters of strife and disharmony,

  • have the audacity to stand before us and to try to unite our hearts in worship

  • to God.

  • Now, if a man is still leading us in prayer,

  • it is implied that the rest of us are quietly following that lead.

  • When you're being led in prayer, then

  • let your mind be engaged in what is being said.

  • In this way, you are engaging together in that act of worship.

  • Acts 4:31 says

  • that: "They prayed."

  • Acts 12 and verse 12, mentions that many were gathered together praying,

  • in somewhat of a prayer service.

  • It would have been confusing for several to pray at once. And so,

  • the obvious implication is that one man at a time

  • led the congregation in prayer, and they silently participated with him.

  • If we are called on to pray,

  • even as a new Christian, we should remember that we have

  • the joyful anticipation of our Heavenly Father receiving that prayer,

  • and the love and support of our spiritual family who are praying with

  • us.

  • A brother in Christ once said that new members of Christ's body, especially the

  • men,

  • are especially anxious to learn about public prayer.

  • And he said,

  • "Shortly after my own conversion, I was called upon from the pulpit to lead a

  • closing prayer without prior notice.

  • I began falteringly but

  • became so involved in my prayer with the Almighty God,

  • that I choked up and could not finish.

  • After an embarrassing silence,

  • a beautiful brother near me finished the prayer.

  • This true story I tell to illustrate love and patience

  • of the brethren."

  • And how right he is.

  • Now, when we talk about prayer in the life of the individual Christian,

  • everyone should be faithful.

  • The psalmist said in Psalm 32 and verse 6 that: "... everyone who is godly shall

  • pray to the Lord..."

  • The New Testament urges the Christian to have a devoted prayer life.

  • It should be constant. 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "Pray without ceasing."

  • Colossians 4 and verse 2 says:

  • "Devote yourselves to prayer,

  • keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving."

  • And in Romans 12 and verse 12,

  • we are admonished to "continue steadfastly in prayer."

  • Paul, after talking about the

  • whole armor of God says in Ephesians 6:18:

  • "... Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,

  • being watchful to this end

  • with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints..."

  • And then there's the parable of Jesus.

  • In Luke 18 and verse 1, Jesus spoke a parable to them that: "... Men always

  • ought to pray and not lose heart..."

  • God, like any good father,

  • wants to hear from His children.

  • He wants to be acknowledged and appreciated,

  • and addressed lovingly, respectfully, and frequently.

  • And here's what's going to happen when you invest

  • in a regular, heartfelt and faithful, prayer life.

  • You will feel a greater sense of dependency upon God

  • in your daily walk.

  • You're going to more consciously consider what the will of God is

  • and the decisions that you make in life.

  • You're going to

  • have a better sense of God's providential care in actively working in your daily

  • Christian life.

  • Rick Hoight was born with a severe physical disability from birth,

  • that left him unable to talk or walk or use his hands.

  • Doctors told his parents that he would never be more than a vegetable.

  • But his father, Rick, found a computer so he could communicate by tapping a

  • button with the side of his head.

  • This helped Rick not only graduate high school,

  • and go on to college, but even to earn a degree in special education.

  • One time, a classmate was injured

  • and the school organized a charity run.

  • Rick typed out to his dad: "Dad... I

  • want to do that!"

  • And so his father prepared to push him in a wheelchair.

  • To everyone's surprise, Rick's dad ran the entire five miles

  • pushing his son.

  • And at the end, Rick typed out:

  • "Dad, when we were running,

  • it feels like I'm not even handicapped."

  • So from there,

  • they began doing marathons and triathlons together.

  • Someone suggested that Rick's dad try some races without him since he was