If you’ve ever thoughtfully read through the book of Acts, you cannot help but realize that while many contemporary churches are plateaued or dying, the church in Acts was characterized by phenomenal growth and influence.
They began with a group of about 120 believers (Acts 1:15).
By Acts 2, they swelled in growth to over 3,000 (Acts 2:41).
By Acts 17, we read that they were credited with literally “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
So, what did they have that we don’t? Not a thing.
What did they do that we don’t do? Better question! They prayed!
Before you throw up a wall and say that you and your congregation pray a lot (there are certainly believers and churches who do even though they are few and far between), we both know that prayer meetings are sparsely attended. Folks will show up to all sorts of other events at their church but when a prayer meeting is called, the crowds are usually very, very small – at least relatively speaking in regard to attendance at other meetings.
Even in the worship services the folks attend, there is very little time dedicated to prayer. This is in spite of the fact that when Jesus entered the place of worship in Jerusalem, He said, “It is written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer.'” Now, there are a TON of things that legitimately happen in places of worship. Yet, in mentioning only prayer, Jesus clearly pointed to its priority. It MUST be first and foremost.
The growth of the Kingdom and the power of God surging throw believers and churches is what will happen when we take prayer as seriously as did the first century church. It is yet to be seen in this perilous time in our country and world if churches will take up this activity and once again receive the power to impact our world for Christ.
Here are the references to prayer in the book of Acts:
Acts 1:14 “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
Acts 1:24 “And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen’”
Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Acts 3:1 “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.”
Acts 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 6:4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6:6 “These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.”
Acts 8:15 “who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit,”
Acts 8:22 “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”
Acts 8:24 “And Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.’”
Acts 9:11 “And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,’”
Acts 9:40 “But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.”
Acts 10:1-2 “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayedcontinually to God.”
Acts 10:4 “And he stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ And he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.’”
Acts 10:9 “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.”
Acts 10:30-31 “And Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.”’”
Acts 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me.”
Acts 12:5 “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”
Acts 12:12 “When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.”
Acts 13:3 “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
Acts 14:23 “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
Acts 16:13 “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.”
Acts 16:16 “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.”
Acts 16:25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,”
Acts 20:36 “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.”
Acts 21:5 “When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed”
Acts 22:17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance”
Acts 27:29 “And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.”
Acts 28:8 “It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.”