Acts 16:25 – But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. NKJV
As I was thinking about prayer, and how I could conclude this topic, I had a sudden flash in my mind. I was inquiring of the health of a certain individual when I was told, “All we can do is pray”. Now, if you have ever been in a situation when you heard these words, you know that these were not faith filled words; but words that were saying, “Things are looking really bad and everything has been exhausted, and we’re at the point where all we can do is pray and see if God will do something!” Does anybody know what I’m talking about?
Paul and Silas were on their way to a prayer meeting. In route, a girl possessed with a spirit of divination met them crying out, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” Luke wrote that she did this for many days until Paul became greatly annoyed with her. Paul then turned to her and rebuked that spirit of divination out of her. He and Silas were dragged into the marketplace to the authorities, beaten, and thrown into jail. This is at the point where some religious people would say, “All we can do is pray”! However, for Paul and Silas, it was more of a, “Let’s take some time to pray and give God glory!”
Hardships come to us all. We all experience terrible times in our lives. Those times may look differently, but the sense of hopelessness, or desperation that accompany the hard times are felt the world over. It is during these difficult times that we may find ourselves in a place where we may feel that all we can do is pray. I can tell you from experience that is exactly what you should do! Pray!
Luke wrote that at midnight they were still awake, and they weren’t complaining or blaming God, or feeling rejected by Him. Just the opposite is true! They were in the midst of a prayer meeting which involved a time a praise and worship to the God whom they loved and served. And they were not quietly praying, for scripture let’s us know that they were heard by the other prisoners who were listening to them!
James, the brother of John, one of the Sons of Thunder, was murdered by Herod.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. Acts 12:1-2 -NKJV
When Herod saw that it pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter. We don’t know that the Church wasn’t praying when James was murdered, but we do know that when Peter was arrested, the saints were praying. Unlike Paul and Silas who were up praying themselves, Peter was fast asleep. As a matter of fact, the angel had to shake him to wake him up.
Both situations involved prominent, well-known men of God who found themselves in jail with the likely outcome of death being a reality. Paul and Silas were praying, and Peter was asleep. But the saints were praying for him.
Both situations caused an angel to be sent on their behalf to bring deliverance. Peter was guided out of the jail, stopped by the prayer meeting, and then went on his way. It could have been a regular time of meeting for them, and that’s why Peter knew where to go. It could also explain why he fell asleep, because he trusted that they were praying. Or Peter could have prayed and then went to sleep because he wasn’t concerned. Whatever the case, Peter was delivered.
Paul and Silas were also delivered, and in the process, so were all of the other prisoners. The keeper was so shocked to see the door open that he prepared to kill himself, for he knew that Herod would surely have him put to death. But no one had left the prison, although they had all been made free. This had such an impact on the jailer that he and his household were saved.
Prayer should never be done from a standpoint of “all we can do is pray” because that isn’t faith, that sounds like you’ve given up. Prayer works, and prayer changes things. The Bible recorded many instances when prayer was offered and things happened. Not because prayer was the least that they could do, but because the person or group of people praying knew the power of prayer!
The early Church believers were known to pray. In the upper room after Jesus ascended, they were praying together. Not because that was all they could do, but because they knew it was what they should be doing! And they were obviously not just going through the motions, because things were happening! As people prayed in the New Testament:
- The power of God descended from on High and filled them with His Holy Spirit and they spake in tongues for the first time in history!
- Thousands were getting saved and coming into the kingdom at one time!
- They received the dead back to life!
- Wisdom was given to them to do the work of the ministry and to know who to work with in ministry
- Signs and wonders followed them as they preached the gospel.
- Doors of opportunity were open to them to share the gospel!
In both the Old and New Testament we have example upon example of what happens when people pray. As I have grown in Christ, when someone say that all they can do is pray, I remind them that is the best thing they can do, pray!
Prayer is always the one area that I feel I can improve in and don’t do it enough. I never ever really feel that I have spent enough time with the Lord in prayer. I have prayed all night, I have prayed faithfully for years at our prayer meetings, and I have my private time of prayer. And I still feel I can pray some more. Sometimes I don’t feel like praying, but I know that the devil always feel like creating problems! Sometime I don’t want to pray, but I understand that the devil loves it when I am not praying. I’m not praying out of compulsion, I pray because I know the importance of prayer!
Prayer brings peace into your heart and mind about the things going on in life. Prayer allows you to give your problems to Someone more capable of handling them. Prayer brings you into the Presence of God. Prayer stops the enemy in his tracks. Prayer releases the Spirit of God into your situation. And most importantly, God hears and answers our prayers!
Thank you for going on this journey with me about prayer. Again, I have not exhausted it, but I am being led in another direction. I trust you’ll continue to see the necessity to pray, and enjoy the benefits of developing a prayer life centered around the word of God! Stay safe and be encouraged! Wonderful Jesus!