Memo 1093: Earth-Shaking Prayers
We've been examining David's career to see what we can learn to help us live the abundant life. The theme of this series is PowerPoints for Living and this week, we stay in the New Testament to look at what the disciples did after they had been threatened not to publicly speak about Jesus again:
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one'" (Acts 4:23-26).
Those praying invoked the name and writings of David, which is what we want to focus on in this week's Memo. Let's get started.
When the disciples prayed in this instance, they didn't follow a formula or end their prayer by saying "in Jesus' name." Instead, they prayed Scripture, going to Psalm 2 to recite back to God words He had inspired David to write. Psalm 2 is one of the most quoted psalms in the New Testament and for good reason. When Jesus came back to life, He taught the disciples about the Kingdom, explaining all the passages that pertained to Him so they would both understand and teach the insight He shared. We can safely assume He spent a lot of time opening their minds to understand that second psalm.
In this case, they preached Jesus' message and God's word back at Him, not praying for protection or for victory over their enemies. Rather, they asked God to give them favor as they ignored the threats and continued to share Jesus: "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus" (Acts 4:29-30). Their prayer had such power and so much vitality that God Himself was moved by what they said: "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (Acts 4:31).
LESSONS FOR US
What were the elements of this prayer that caused God to break out into applause with such fervor that it shook the earth from His place in heaven? First, their prayer was based on current events. The disciples "went back to their own people" after their encounter with the Jewish leaders, and shared the seriousness of the situation. Then they "raised their voices together in prayer," which indicates they were of one accord. After that, they acknowledged God's sovereignty over their situation, recognizing their confrontation wasn't an accident but ordained by God Himself. Then they prayed Scripture, in this case invoking the word of their prophet, author, and father David.
When's the last time you prayed a prayer that shook the earth when you were finished? I know I haven't but I have experienced times when I knew my prayer had touched God's heart. Those prayers were unselfish, biblical, and focused on helping me fulfill my purpose. Recently, I've been thinking about the fact that our job isn't to pray as many have said. Our job is to get answers to our prayers. After all, Jesus said, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:13-14).
Is your prayer life vibrant or is it pretty routine? Alive or boring? Dialog or duty? Do you expect specific answers and have you shared the results with others as part of your ongoing testimony? What changes to your prayer life do you need to make to have a chance to shake the earth as the disciples did? This week's PowerPoint for Living can be summarized as follows:
To be a successful purpose seeker, you must have a vibrant prayer life in which you talk to God and He talks to you. Your job is not just to pray as a duty but to get answers to your prayers, taking advantage of the magnificent promise Jesus gave that He would answer our prayers.
Make the most of your conversations with God and involve as much of His word in your prayers as possible. And what better way to do so than to incorporate the words of the psalmist David, who certainly knew a thing or two about praying to and hearing from God. Have a blessed week.