(Acts 1:12-15), “12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)”
(Acts 1:1-11), gives us an account of Jesus’ last days here on earth and His ascension back to heaven. Following Jesus’ ascension back to heaven we see the disciples returned to Jerusalem and the first thing they did was have a prayer meeting. I want to take this passage and bring you a thought on the subject of: “MAKING PRAYER THE FIRST WORK OF THE CHURCH.” Many people think corporate prayer in the church is a waste of time, but let me say this; according to the Word of God, without the ministry of prayer in the church; our work in the church is a waste of time. However, the Word of God teaches that every aspect of our church should be bathed and saturated with prayer because God doesn’t do anything outside the realm of prayer. Oswald Chambers), “Prayer does not fit for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Prayer in the Church is important because prayer moves the hand that moves the world. The early church understood the power of prayer, and that’s why in the book of Acts, the early church is found time and time again in prayer meetings. I want you to notice some things about the early church’s prayer meetings as…
1. Notice the People that were Attending the Early Church’s Prayer Meetings
In our text we see the prayer meetings in the early church was for everyone in the church and everyone felt the need to pray. (1.) The Church leaders were there. (v. 12-13); The Church ladies were there. (v. 14a); The Church laymen were there (v. 14b-15). In the early church, every member, leaders, ladies, and laymen alike, all recognized that they must meet God in the holy place before they could minister effectively in the marketplace. As we study the through the book of Acts we learn that corporate prayer was placed on the same level with preaching and teaching as a priority in a healthy church. (Acts 6:4), ” But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” The apostles were not referring to the need for personal, private prayer, although that is important. But in this passage they are talking about the ministry of mobilizing the people of God to pray together. Prayer should be the first work of the church and every member of the church should attend and be a part of the prayer meetings.
2. Notice the Power that was Attained Through the Early Church’s Prayer Meetings
The Book of Acts records the mighty works of God, for and through His church in its early years, and clearly connects them to unified, corporate prayer of the church. In (Chapter 1), Jesus left the model for building His church and it is found in the upper room where the 120 members of the early church were gathered together in a prayer meeting. In (Chapter 2), we see the Jerusalem church on fire for the Lord as a result of a prayer meeting where 3,000 souls were saved. In (Chapter 3), there is more church action and preaching as the church goes to prayer meeting. In (Chapter 4), there is more high explosive actions in the early church as they continue in their prayer meetings. In (Chapter 5), there are two funerals of a husband and a wife within the space of a few hours and all of this in the midst of God’s assembled people who are having a prayer meeting and worship services. In (Chapter 6), we see another action of the church of Jerusalem as the church grows into a multitude of people in response to the early church’s prayer meetings. When we come to (Acts 12), we see the Jerusalem church still praying at the same high upper room level as they pray for Peter to be delivered from prison and the mighty hand of moved to deliver Peter. The early church knew the importance of prayer, and they all knew how to pray, and it was the praying of the early church that dominated the book of Acts and determined the course of the church. Now, God is no respecter of persons and what God did then, He will do for us today if we will make prayer the first work of the church.
3. Notice the Pattern that was Appropriated in the Early Church’s Prayer Meetings
The early church prayed together because they learned that prayer was a vital key to opening God’s presence and work among His people in unique ways. The 120 were gathered in an upper room praying in one accord when Pentecost came in (Acts 2). The church prayed over the seven men appointed to serve the widows in (Acts 6). After James was martyred and Peter was imprisoned by Herod, the church prayed together and God miraculously delivered Peter from prison in (Acts 12). While the prophets and teachers were praying and fasting, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to go on their first missionary journey in (Acts 13). Paul and Silas were praying when God sent an earthquake that resulted in the conversion of the jailer and their release in (Acts 16). In the book of Acts, there are many examples of how corporate prayer was the springboard for the sweeping movements of God. THE EARLY CHURCH MADE PRAYER THE FIRST WORK OF THE CHURCH! We should make prayer the first work of the church today.
Pastor Allen Jackson