A few years ago I was sitting on a plane looking out over the landscape below and marveled at the handiwork of God. The mountains and plains, the rise and fall of the land, and the colors all crafted together in a marvelous beauty. Only the Creator could have done this! As I stared out across the Earth below, I began praying that God would bring that kind of craft and beauty into my life. I was a believer but wished for more. I wanted more and knew only God could provide it.
As we sit in our churches we often have the same desires. We wish for more. We want more. For some, this is consumerism that has seeped into our lives. For others, they just want more from and for the church. Is it competition with the flourishing one across town? Is it genuinely desiring for God to bring his craft and beauty back into the life and breath of the church?
For those who want the latter, I provide 9 prayer topics for you to incorporate in your personal time. I would encourage that you start with you. The greatest movements of God start with 1, then 3 or 4, then a larger context. Don’t run this your pastor and say that this must be put onto the schedule this weekend. Pray through it yourself. What is God telling you? Pray with a partner, or your small group, and get a sense of what God is doing. Mostly, just pray.
The early church, as we see it, was innocent and developing. Often, I look back through Acts 2-4 and wonder where it all went. Why don’t we see this anymore? Why don’t we experience God like that anymore? The answers are not kind. We don’t experience what we don’t expect. We can’t expect what we don’t engage. Thus, if I want to experience the Spirit, I must expect the Spirit. If I wish to expect the Spirit I need to start engaging the Holy Spirit in my daily life. When we reserve the movement of God only for Sunday then we miss out on many opportunities.
Prayer 1 – Devotion. Acts 2:42.46 use the word devotion twice. The early followers devoted themselves to development, fellowship, eating. They must have been Baptist 😉. The choice was devotion. Pray for devotion to rise up within you. Pray that God’s Spirit would enable devotion in your life.
Prayer 2 – Awe. Acts 2:43 uses the word awe. Those present were awestruck with wonder because of what was happening. We look around today and are not in awe of much anymore. Part of this reduction is our sin, complacency, and apathy. Part of the reduction is a lack of faith that God could actually do it again. One of my favorite songs today is “Do It Again” by Elevation Worship. You have seen God move before, look for it. You choose to believe He can do it again, expect it. Pray that innocence return to your eyes as you look around and see God again.
Prayer 3 – Community. The early church was communal. Before you begin to think I want to return to an earlier time of or to a compound, that is not what I am expressing. They had all things in common. They met together regularly. I recently led a group of potential trainers through 10 weeks of preparation for their own groups. The bonds were formed quickly. Our last meeting was rather bittersweet. Pray that God would bring His people together in love and unity, common unity. Pray for Community of heart, mind, and spirit, and purpose.
Prayer 4 – Generosity. The people had generous hearts. They sold possessions and land to make sure the people of God had enough. They didn’t have capital campaigns. They provided for the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not city or transient benevolence. This expression of provision was for the church folks in need. Pray that God would remove stinginess. Pray that God would build generosity in your heart and the heart of the church.
Prayer 5 – Joy. As they gathered together and gave together, sacrificially, they had joy. Joy unspeakable. Joy uncontrollable. Joy unexplainable. God’s economy is different than ours. The more we give away the more God can provide. If we never give away or walk by faith, where is the trust? Where there is a lack of trust, then joy exits. Pray that God would raise your attitude and perspective so that joy becomes real to you.
Prayer 6 – Sincerity. One might wonder if there were fakers in the early church. Sure there were! Keep reading past this moment in Acts and you will find 2 people who faked it. The majority of people, though, were being authentic. They gave because their lives had changed. They loved because they experienced the love of God through Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit. They expected nothing in return for what they did. However, God provided immeasurably more than they could have hoped or imagined. Pray that God would keep you sincere and to reveal where you might be faking it.
Prayer 7 – Praise. As they ate together they praised God. There is nothing like genuine community. Obviously, we will have moments when we struggle to want to be in the group. However, in those instances, we must double down and get there because God will always answer us. They praised God. Another choice of theirs. Is it of you? Do we praise God? Yes, we do for all the good things in life. Do we praise God for the bad things, too? They were so happy to be experiencing life together in the midst of the chaos everywhere else. How about you? Pray that you would praise God for it all! Pray that you would praise God for your church family. Pray that you will have newness of vision and a heart for love.
Prayer 8 – Relationships. Through it all, they enjoyed the favor of the people. They enjoyed this favor not because they watered down the message or hid their spiritual life at work. They enjoyed the favor of the people because of their integrity and willingness to die for the cause and Christ of the Kingdom. They enjoyed favor with people because in their following of Christ it changed them. The relationship they had with God enhanced every other relationship. They did not think more of themselves than they should. They did not condescend or improperly cast judgment on others. They loved as they had been loved. Pray that God would rebuild the relationships around you that might be broken. Pray that God would remodel your heart and attitude so that you enjoy favor.
Prayer 9 – Conversion. The end of this moment shares that God added those being converted every day! Every day someone was coming to a saving knowledge and faith decision. This was not revival services. This was not a big event crusade. This was not a big push. This was everyday people living everyday lives in light of and hope for the Gospel. They lived the Gospel so that they could share the Gospel. They were not necessarily searching out and targeting people. I think it was just the natural way of things because they allowed God’s Spirit and power to reside within and through them. Pray that your life and speech would be so naturally reflective of the Gospel that those around you want to know more. Pray that you would have the confidence to live such a life and share the truth of what God did for you.
These are 9 prayers I found from Acts 2:42-47. I am sure there are more. What do you think? What do you see? What is your experience?