Prayers, Answers to Prayers, and Signs from God.
11/11/2016 10:38:02 AM
Is there a secret the early believers knew?
Prayer, Answers to Prayer, Signs from God. Acts 5.12-16
Is it the people, the land, the history or religions of Israel that makes it so incredibly special? The answer to the question is “yes!” All of those things and more, particularly seeing the places that are recorded in Scripture, make Israel an unparalleled, special place. At this very moment, I am making the fourteen-hour flight to begin the journey I had thought I would never get to take. I can’t wait to walk on the streets of Jerusalem and dream about what it might have been like when Jesus and the disciples came to town.
You know, picturing life in Jerusalem in the early days of the church, thinking about how God answered the believers’ ardent prayers has been a real inspiration.
Funny thing about prayer, we often pray prayers we forget we ever prayed. But God does not forget…ever.** When his people pray serious prayers—faith-filled prayers, God answers. Our Lord’s brother wrote, “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”1 Said another way, “Tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer,”2 or from the only Bible of my youth, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”.3
Just a few days ago, we looked at the earnest prayers of the growing community of believers in Jerusalem – remember, even under threats of imprisonment, they prayed for greater courage, not even asking for protection. “Now, Lord,” they prayed -- I love that start, as it suggests familiarity— “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.”4
And God did. Luke writes, “Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high honor. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” Acts 5.12-16, RSV.
God answered their prayers, healing ALL who were brought near to the apostles. Isn’t that flat out amazing? God answered their prayer for courage and boldness; the devoted had not shrunk back, even though pressure was mounting. Instead, the Church met together publicly on the huge porch5 built along the eastern side of the Temple. How those folks loved being with one another, learning from the teaching of the apostles, being part of the miraculous work that God was doing, praying, sharing meals, and generally doing life together!
Are these times a thing of the past? I mean, was the kind of power the church experienced in those early days – well, was it only for then? No. God is all powerful and when his children cry out to him, he delights in answering—in small ways and mighty ways.
Did those early believers know and do something we do not? Possibly.
Recall what Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”6
Jesus did not put a statute of limitations on miraculous works; rather, he said his children would do even greater works than him! [Did you read “Does God Still Heal? http://pastorwoman.com/ReadArchive.aspx?id=2801 or listen http://www.pastorwoman.com/podcasts/08594041-9397-449d-abef-0f8c43c5c01d.m4a
God is still in the miracle-working business…we seem to forget about that too.
Jesus said to ask in his name (because there is power in his name),
remain in his love,
and live a life of obedience to him—i.e., keep My commandments.
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us,7 (his followers), yet we walk around seemingly powerless. This ought not be so! Let’s resurrect prayers we gave up on, let’s press in, let’s believe God for more. Let’s experience all God intended for us.
1 – James 5.16b, The Message
2 – James 5.16b, J. B. Phillips
3 – James 5.16b, King James
4 - Acts 4.29-30
5 – Solomon’s Colonnade, a place Jesus frequented
6 – John 14.12-16
7 – Romans 8.11
** - Take a look at this—the prayers of God’s people are in bowls in Heaven