A Plea For More Prayer In The Church
PRAYER, THE HOLY GHOST AND THE CHURCH The amount that God gives often goes hand in hand with whether or not, and how much, we ask: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall
PRAYER, THE HOLY GHOST AND THE CHURCH
The amount that God gives often goes hand in hand with whether or not, and how much, we ask:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Matthew 7:7
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5
This is applied this as much to the Holy Spirit as to anything else, with emphasis:
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:13
In the same way that parents give their children something to eat when they ask, God is just as willing to give the Holy Spirit to anyone that asks Him for it. In fact, the very ministry of the Spirit is governed by the law that simply says, If God must give, we must first ask.
Prayer and the Day of Pentecost
On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out in power, it was in response to unified prayer among believers who had been told to tarry there in Jerusalem until it came. That flow into the heart of the believer, as well as God’s outpouring in rivers of living water, they both depend on the law of “Ask and it shall be given”. In fact, Jesus said we have not, because we ask not.
It seems a simple thing, and one that we adhere to in physical aspects of life. If we want something that isn’t already owed to us, we think nothing of asking for it. We see this especially in children, who often ask without a thought as to whether or not the request will be granted. How much more, than, should we ask our Father, who has already told us, if we will just ask, He will give it? Not asking almost equates to refusing a gift placed in your hands. Few people would do that, yet so few people actually test the very Word of Jesus in this situation.
In the opening portions of the book of Acts, we see the birth of the church in that outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as well as the freshness of life in the Spirit’s power. We can start with those words that almost everyone is familiar with:
“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Acts 1:14
It goes on to say that all were filled with the Holy Ghost, and about three thousand souls were added to them that very same day. Belief and continued prayer are, still today, the measures needed to allow the Spirit to be at work in the Church. Prayer that is direct, definite, and determined is what we need. It worked then, for the early church, and it will surely work today because God is surely the same, yesterday, today and forever.
The Faces of Confirmation
You can see confirmation of this fact later on, when Peter and John were brought in front of the Council and threatened with punishment. When they went back to the others, telling about the things that had happened, they all began to pray a unified prayer for boldness to continue speaking the Word. Immediately, the whole place began to shake, the believers were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they did speak the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
All of those that believed, the Bible tells us, were of one heart and one soul. They thought the same things and believed the same things. Because of this, they were able to personally witness to others, with great power, about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why, it’s almost as if the entire Pentecost story is repeated again – the prayer, the house shaking, believers being filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking the Word of God boldly and with great power and in other tongues, and the unity of the believers – so that it would be imprinted upon the very heart of the Church. Prayer is the key, the very root, of the spiritual power and life of the church, comprised of believers.
Moreover, the measure of God’s giving of the Spirit is in direct correlation to our asking for it!
Praying For The Spirit
Another point of view concerning the connection between the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Ghost and the power of prayer can be seen in Acts chapter 8. In Samaria, Philip had preached a blessed message, after which many believed and were saved, but at that time, none of them had received the Holy Ghost. Because of that one factor, Peter and John were sent to pray for them, so they could experience that gift. Here, we see the power of prayer being higher than that of preaching.
That is not always the case, but here, at the dawn of the early church, it was desperately important that people not only be saved and baptized, but also filled with the Holy Ghost. It brought a power, a draw to prayer and communication with God that seemed, according to what we read throughout the book of Acts, as well as in other places in Scripture, to be lacking without it.
To those early believers, the very ones who had walked and talked and sat under the teaching of Jesus Himself, the outpouring of the Holy Ghost was something to ask for, to wait on and to joyfully receive. It was something that Jesus had instructed them to wait for, specifically. It meant taking the next step of faith, and being able to live a life full of power and intimacy with God.
A Gift For The Gentiles, Through Prayer
We see yet another connection between prayer and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Caesarea, at the house of Cornelius. Peter had been praying at midday on the housetop when he saw a vision of heaven being opened and a revelation of the cleansing of the Gentiles. At first, he hadn’t fully understood the meaning of the message from heaven, but it would only be a short time before that revelation came in full.
Shortly after the vision, a message was received that three men were seeking him, who happened to be sent by Cornelius (a man who was known to “pray always” to God), and the Spirit told him to go with them. It was at this time he realized that God was saying that the Gentiles were as clean, in His eyes, as the Jews were in Peter’s. Having already received the Holy Ghost himself, He would not defy the Lord, and went and ministered to Cornelius’s household.
Peter prayed and the will of God was revealed to him, and he was guided into going to Caesarea to a group who had also been praying and was prepared to hear what Peter had to say. It is after all this prayer, from both, that the Holy Ghost was then given to the Gentiles.
A Church In Danger
In Acts chapter 12, we find the scene was set when Herod killed James, John’s brother, and then threw Peter into prison. This stirred the entire church to the immense danger that they were in, and they began to pray without ceasing for Peter’s life, and no doubt, for their own lives as well. Those prayers were answered and Peter was set free. Peter even found that the believers were all still praying together at Mary’s house when he arrived there.
Consider, if you will, the might of that very moment. Stone walls, chains, the iron gate, and all the soldiers and keepers: they all had to succumb to the mighty power from heaven that was brought down by those unified prayers. In fact, all the power of Herod, and the Roman Empire he stood for, was nothing in the face of the unified church, endowed with the power of the Holy Ghost, in prayer.
Those believers knew a real and intimate communication with Jesus. They remembered Him saying, “All power is given unto me…” (Matthew 28:18), and “Lo, I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20), and they believed it! It wasn’t a suggestion or a fairy tale story. It was real, and they knew in their hearts that it was as real as He was, as they were.
These believers had complete and unadulterated faith in Jesus’ promise that He would not only hear their prayers, but that He would answer them as well. They prayed with complete faith, nothing wavering, and with full assurance that the very power of heaven would work on earth, at their request, and on their behalf.
The Pentecostal Church not only believed in prayer. They practiced it.
Set Apart by Prayer and the Holy Ghost
Another example of praying and the blessing of the Holy Ghost, comes from Acts chapter 13. There were five men in Antioch that gave themselves completely to prayer with fasting and the Holy Ghost met them in that prayer. Saul and Barnabas were to be separated and let go, “sent forth of the Holy Ghost” as the Bible tells us.
This shows not only the power of prayer in God revealing His plans to those who set themselves aside to prayer. It also showed that there is a real and viable partnership between God and His church. Prayer fits and prepares the church for that partnership. The Holy Ghost gives the authority and power to perform that work, and to use His Name.
Prayer is still the best secret weapon of the church. Prayer sets people apart for His service. Prayer is the link between a God who is on the throne, and a church that is at His footstool. Prayer is a human link empowered by the Holy Ghost, which comes in answer to it.
Things To Consider
Looking back at this brief history of the Pentecostal church, the power of prayer, and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, there are two ultimate truths you can take away from it:
- Prayers bring forth the Holy Ghost.
- The Holy Ghost brings forth prayer.
The connection between the two is undeniable. And the circle is never ending. Praying for the Holy Ghost awakens a desire within the believer for even more prayer, which then brings divine revelation, power and grace.
Let’s go again to the Word and learn those things that we should be utterly convinced of:
- Heaven still contains storehouses full of as many spiritual blessings as there has ever been.
- It pleases God greatly, even delights Him, to give the Holy Ghost to whoever asks Him.
- Our life’s work remains completely dependant on the impartation of Divine knowledge an power, just as it did in Pentecostal days.
- Prayer is still the only right way to receive spiritual blessings and power, for us, as well as those around us.
- God is still looking for men and women who will give themselves to the preservation of prayer.
If prayer was the way in which the early church flourished and became victorious, does it not make sense that it is a primary need in today’s church as well? Could it be that a lack of prayer is why we now find society in such a deep, morally deprived shambles? Is it possible that the Holy Ghost is hindered in the lives of true believers because they simply don’t know to ask for it? Or is it that they think that was a gift only for those early church apostles? To the latter, we say: Test the Word! Try doing just what those apostles and early believers did! Taste and see that the Lord is good!
What do you have to lose?
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!