Sept 10, 2017 – Together in Prayer
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: With One Accord – Unity and Community in the Book of Acts
Acts 1:1-14 (ESV)
1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Gathering consistently to pray “with one accord” (homothumadon) is:
I) An expression of unity
- a unique moment in the course of God’s unfolding plan (vv1-11) to invite the whole earth (v8) to be joined with Him
- v13 focus on the apostles as a stage in succession
II) An indication of necessity
- they are in a period of waiting (v4), and still learning (v7)
- prayer as active dependence
III) A deepening of community
- prayer is a chief means of aligning with God, which strengthens the bonds of the community God is forming
Questions for Reflection
- Do you find it easier to pray by yourself or with other people? Why?
- Of all the things Christians gather to do (sing, Bible study, fun activities, counsel, etc.), where would you rank prayer in your own priorities for why to gather or what to do when gathering with Christians?
- What principles can direct prayer in groups where people may not agree on certain issues (politics, theological distinctions, etc.)?
- Prayer is certainly something we can do when we don’t know what else to do. How can prayer also be a means of producing action?
- The church is a God centered community – how do we pray so that our praying life gets us more in sync with God and His ways, and inevitably syncs up God’s people?
- Should you say “amen” (it is true, I agree) if you are praying with someone who prays something you disagree with? If someone prays something you think is contrary to God or His ways? What do you do if you have trouble agreeing with someone in prayer?
- How can the prayer life of Emmanuel be a means of deepening our community? How should we organize or schedule prayer so that it is a vibrant part of our fellowship and not just another thing people feel they have to do? Share your ideas with one of the elders!
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, if prayer is a means of expressing our unity with you and with your people, we confess we foster disunity through neglect of this privilege we have. We tend to be drawn to many other aspects of community life and are lazy when it comes to praying. Our apathy to prayer is a symptom of greater problems, and we also confess the many ways we are not aligning with you or putting love for your people as a priority. Forgive us and fill us with your Spirit so that fellowship with you and your people would increase and our isolation and selfishness would decrease. Amen.