"Do You Pray for Courage?"
Do you want to be more bold for Jesus? Would you like to have a life that is lived in courage more than fear? Then pray for it. Pray that God will give you strength to do His will.
Do You Pray for Courage?
A. Some people say they can feel it. Maybe because they are a part of it. The cold church or the dying church, the one that simply goes through the motions but no heart is being touched. When greatest thing that could re-energize a church is for it burn down, that is sad. You may have been in churches just like that.
B. The church in Ephesus was probably about 40 years old when John sends them a note from Jesus in the great Revelation. Rev. 2:1-7. They had abandoned the love they had at the first. Something happened in that church that caused them to lose their zeal. They never left their doctrine. They had that down pat, but what put them on the line to be removed as a church belonging to Jesus was that they had abandoned the love they had at their beginning. Good beginnings do not mean good middles or good ends. Solomon had a great beginning as a king, but that is not how I would classify his kingship at his death.
C. I want to keep talking about the church in Jerusalem and its beginning. We saw on Pentecost how 3000 people responded to the sermon and were saved. We then read how that church devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. And with that, we were told that God was adding to their number daily. Then the last two weeks we have seen how God used a situation with a lame beggar for Peter and John to share the good news about Jesus and the resurrection, but there were some who so hated that teaching that they had the men put in jail and commanded them to speak no longer in the name of Jesus.
D. But what I want you to see is what happens next. When the trails come, when the religious leaders try to quiet them, look what Peter and John do…(Acts 4:23-24).
E. The early church was devoted to prayer. The Hebrew people understood prayer and we have many examples of people in the OT praying, praying with faith and boldness. What we call great men and women of faith, were also great men and women of prayer. The two go together.
I. They Lifted Their Voices Together
A. When a church is devoted to prayer, lives change. These people came together and lifted their voices together to God. This was a united effort. This was not a Peter and John thing, it was a church thing. They had a problem, and the first thing they did was come together to pray.
B. When they prayed, they began by saying something many of us struggle with. The ESV says, “Sovereign Lord.” That word “sovereign” is “despotace.” In English we would say “despot.” It means a ruler who exercises absolute authority and power. How many of us are ready to pray to God and start by saying, “You who have absolute authority and power over me.” They believe that God was in control even when they were faced with persecution.
C. When you look at their prayer I want you to see how they incorporated Psalm 2. Listen to that Psalm. When it was originally written it was about God establishing a king, probably David, and how the people around him and Israel would not accept this authority. But God knows all things. While it may have been about David at first, there is no doubt that this Psalm is very much about Jesus also. People like Herod and Pilate along with the Gentiles could not stop the kingship of Jesus. They could not stop God’s plan to redeem you and me back to Him.
D. I like the way The Bible Exposition Commentary put it:
“The Word of God and prayer must always go together. In His Word, God speaks to us and tells us what He wants to do. In prayer, we speak to Him and make ourselves available to accomplish His will. True prayer is not telling God what to do, but asking God to do His will in us and through us. It means getting God’s will done on earth, not man’s will done in heaven.
“They did not pray to have their circumstances changed or their enemies put out of office. Rather, they asked God to empower them to make the best use of their circumstances and to accomplish what He had already determined. This was not fatalism” but faith in the Lord of history who has a perfect plan and is always victorious. They asked for divine enablement, not escape; and God gave them the power that they needed.”
E. Phillips Brooks wrote, “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” That is the way the early Christians prayed, and that is the way God’s people should pray today.
II. The Desire For Courage
A. Listen again to verse 29-30. What they wanted was God’s will to be done through them. Speaking with boldness is not easy. Speaking with boldness in the face of persecution is more difficult.
B. A. C. Dixon said, “When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely on education, we get what education can do; when we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely on prayer, we get what God can do!”
C. Timothy was a young man that Paul had to admonish to not be timid. He writes to Timothy that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Will you pray that prayer? Will you claim that spirit?
D. The church has always had its problems. There have always been people that don’t want us to take the gospel of Jesus into all the world or even into our own little area of the world. Satan is a work wanting us to hold on to fear knowing that fear immobilizes so many of us. We all love God and would love to see others come to him but many of us struggle with fear. That is Satan’s attack on us. Pray for courage. Pray to be bold while doing God’s will.
A. And when they had prayed the place in which they were gathered together was shaken. Wow! This was not a second Pentecost. There can no more be a second Pentecost than there could be a second Calvary. It was the Holy Spirit at work. He may not shake this building, but it does not keep Him from being at work.
B. Maybe you are here today and in need of prayer. It may be that you are struggling with something, you are facing something big, or you are seeing your spiritual life in need of repenting. This church family is here to pray with you and for you. If you desire our prayers, then come as we stand and sing.