From the Heart of Bill
Last month I opened up a dialogue on what made the early church so EFFECTIVE in reaching people for Jesus Christ and we looked at Acts 2:42-47 and talked about FELLOWSHIP. This month I want us to focus on the importance of PRAYER.
Acts 2:42–47 (NKJV) — 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in PRAYERS. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
The early church had demonstrated a dependence on God in their daily practice of prayer. Prayer is many things. It’s not just talking to God, it’s LISTENING to Him. In other words, it’s INTERACTING with Him.
Sometimes I think we make prayer more complicated than it needs to be. Prayer is simply interacting with God and as you develop what I call a “God Consciousness,” you can pray at all times and in all places. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing or sitting. It doesn’t matter if your eyes are open or closed. It doesn’t matter if you pray out loud or silently. When you think of prayer as INTERACTING with God, prayer becomes as natural as breathing.
Brother Laurence was a French Priest who lived in the 1600’s and he put together a collection of teachings called, “The Practice of the Presence of God.” The book is Public Domain and can be read and downloaded for free. In his book, Brother Lawrence writes about little and big ways that we can practice the presence of God. For example when you sin (and we all do…) why not turn that sin around into something POSITIVE. It’s important that we confess and repent of sin, but why not also pray…
“Lord, thank you for reminding me what I am apart from You.”
Do you see the TWIST? Taking something BAD and turning it around for GOOD. That’s Biblical. When Joseph’s brothers repented of the sin of selling Joseph into slavery, Joseph’s response was, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Gen. 50:20) Romans 8:28 says, “That we know God causes ALL things to work together for good…” Why not take that principle and use it in our prayer lives?
Practicing the presence of God IS PRAYING. I also believe that’s what the Bible means when it tells us we need to WALK IN THE SPIRIT. (Gal 5:16)
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT can be FUN! Walking in the Spirit means that whatever situation you walk into, you are interacting with God and sizing things up in the spiritual realm. Dialoguing with God, “What is it you want me to know about this situation? How do You want me to Pray? What is You want me to say? What is it you want me to Do?”
As you WALK IN THE SPIRIT, I encourage you to keep this church and its pastor in your prayers. Things are going well for us as a church. The tendency when things are good is not to pray as much. Prosperity can be a curse when it gets our eyes off God. That’s why the Christians in China are praying for us. They view our prosperity as a curse and to a certain degree they’re right. I know that I go after God with a lot more intensity when things are going BAD than when things are going GOOD (more on this next month…)
Hebrews tells us that we need to always FIX our eyes on JESUS the author and the perfector of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
My prayer is that we PRACTICE THE PRESENCE of God as individuals and as a church.