Last week we started a new series on the Promises of God. We looked at 2 Peter 1:3-4, which says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Notice the first part of this passage says that God has given us everything we need. Whatever we are going through, God has already provided. There are over 4,000 promises recorded in His word and a number of them pertain to prayer. As we look at the first and longest prayer recorded in Acts, we’ll see the four essentials of prayer and how God has given us all we need.
The Name of God
In Acts 3, God used Peter and John to heal a man who had been lame from birth. When the people questioned them about it, they were quick to respond, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). Prayer is all about a relationship with Jesus. You cannot get to God apart from Jesus. Jesus is the mediator between heaven and earth (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus is our High Priest. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Jesus came to seek and save the lost. There is salvation in no other name, but we have everything we need in the name of Jesus.
The People of God
“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” (Acts 4:23). Their instinct was to get with God’s people and pray. When you are let go where do you go? The prayer promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 begins, “If my people….” In Matthew 18, Jesus says that “if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (v. 19-20). Gathering together with God’s people is so important!
The Word of God
Notice also how they prayed. “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…” (Acts 4:24-25). They did not walk in silence, sit in silence, and one person pray and everyone else listen. They raised their voices and all prayed out loud. They prayed to the Sovereign Lord, getting their eyes off their problem and on their God. They also prayed scripture, what David had said in the Psalms. We pray to the Sovereign God who made everything and He can do anything. There is power when we pray scripture.
The Spirit of God
In verse 29 we read that they prayed for boldness. Verse 31 tells us they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. They did not pray for persecution to stop but for boldness. They prayed for what they already had. Why? Because yesterday’s grace will not be enough for tomorrow’s challenges. As our days are so shall our strength/boldness be. They had also already received the Holy Spirit, but as believers we are to be continually filled, because we leak! “…‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zech. 4:6). In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came like a rushing mighty wind. You know when the wind is there and you know when it is not. You feel it. Even if your sail is up, you are not going anywhere without the wind. Even though you are working hard, you are not going anywhere without God’s Spirit. He is essential to spiritual success.
For Peter and John, prayer was their first response not their last resort. We should all learn to pray first, before we send the email, the text, leave the house, go to work, go to school. God has given us everything we need and He’s given us His precious promises we can cling to. Let’s pray the word of God, in the name of Jesus, with the people of God, through the power of the Spirit.