Just a quick note. There have been times that I have questioned whether or not this is the right place for me to post these messages. Satan has tried to discourage me and make me think that people were not reading them. However; just when I start to "second-guess" myself, someone comes across my blog and actually thanks me for posting this series. That is just what I need to know that this is the right thing to do. I guess in this day and age it is more important than ever to be a nation of prayer! Sooooo, I will continue posting, and pray that someone - somewhere along the way - will be blessed by the messages my Dad preached so long ago. As I have said, if you are not interested in these postings, just skip over them and come back for one of my craft postings. (BTW - Dad wrote many poems to end his messages with - I think the one is especially meaningful!!)
(Delivered on Aug 15, 1943 at Centerline Baptist Church)
As we look into the book of Acts, where is recorded the history of the early Christian church, we are amazed that it could prosper under such trying and hard conditions. However, we find that the key to their growth was prayer, unity, and power. You will always find that a praying people are a unified people. When you spend your time on your knees before God you don’t have time to think about other’s faults. It also holds true that a unified church is a powerful church. “Ye shall receive power after that the Hold Ghost is come upon you.” God’s work is a Divine work and no power in heaven or on earth can hold it back. Bitter persecution was heaped upon this early church and such a persecution was now in process as we come to this particular portion of scripture. James, the brother of John, had just been beheaded. When Herod saw how it pleased the people he also cast Peter into prison. Herod is a type of the devil who is constantly trying to win the favor of his own by heaping persecution upon the church. Today, although we still have freedom of religion, we find that true Christianity is being restrained. It is getting harder and harder to do Christian work. The devil is as-it-were casting true gospel ministers into prison and binding them with the chains of formality, modernism, denominationalism, and politics. The only way we can be delivered from such powers of darkness is by the means of prayer. We are going to study this incident before us – not so much for the view of Peter’s deliverance from prison – but with the thought before us of prayer power.
I. AGONIZING PRAYER
The most impressive scene in this whole chapter is the view of the whole church on their knees in prayer for Pete’s deliverance. It was not just one or two of the faithful members who gathered to pray, but THE WHOLE CHURCH. It is no wonder that they had such power in their prayer. We’re calling a day of prayer the last Sunday of this month – I wonder if the whole church will be out?
Furthermore, prayer was made without ceasing. Peter was in a serious situation; there was no time to waste. Oh, these housewives had their dishes to do, houses to clean, and babies to take care of, but here was an emergency and it called for action. The word here means “agonizing”. These folks were in earnest; they cried out from their very souls. We can think of several instances of such agonizing prayer in the scriptures. Daniel prayed. Dan. 9:1-6 & 17-19; Jonah 2:1-2 Peter cried, “Lord save me.” The repentant thief cried, “Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Jesus Christ was in agony in Gathesamy.
II. ASTONISHED PETITIONERS
There’s rather a comical setting here. Here was a great number of people gathered together praying for Peter’s deliverance, and when he finally comes to the door they refuse to believe it is him, and even go so far as to say it must be his angel or ghost. I’m afraid we have a good many folds like this today. They pray for something and when God answers they are more astonished at it than anyone else. There is absolutely no basis for astonishment in prayer. God has made definite promises in scripture. If we fulfill the conditions of prayer the conditions of prayer that he has set forth the answer should be as spontaneous as the light lighting when you turn on the switch. Matt. 17:14-21; 18:19; Mark 9:20-23; 11:22-24; John 15:7; I John 5:14-15.
III. ADMINISTERING PARISHIONERS
Here’s one parish that really got busy. Go show these things unto James and the brethren. There’s nothing like a real demonstration of prayer power to set the people of the Lord on fire. When you have just witnessed such a miraculous answer to prayer as this you just can’t keep quite about it. I don’t believe Peter had to plead with these people to go out and witness for the Lord. Beloved, get on fire for the Lord but first wait upon Him. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
It matters not how great the test,
The Lord’s above, in Him I rest;
He promised that He would answer prayer,
I can but trust and leave it there.
It matters not how dark the way,
The Lord’s above, He is my stay;
He promised all my pathway clear,
With trust in Him I have no fear.
It matters not low long may be,
Before the Lord may answer me,
For as in simple faith I pray,
I know the answers on the way.
By Kenneth G. Farnsworth
August 12, 1943