Redeeming Life Church,
If we want to see what the First Century disciples saw, we would be wise to do what they did.
Who wouldn't like to see Redeeming Life be a part of planting as many church as Paul and Barnabas did? And how great would it be if we were to see some great missionaries and ministers launched out of our church? What a great thing to see! But what did they do?
So one day word got back to the church in Jerusalem that a bunch of disciples of the Way started gathering in Antioch. They sent Barnabas to go check it out and it turns out the rumors were right! (See Acts 11:19-24).
After seeing the needs of the church in Antioch, Barnabas went and found Saul of Tarsus (who would latter be known by the name Paul). He and Paul "met within the church and taught a great many people." What did they teach? Well, if we know anything about Paul and Barnabas, we know they were passionate about the gospel of Jesus. In addition, we see that Paul is serious about right theology, so it's probably safe to say that some of that was taught in that year too. And it just so happens that this was the first place the followers of the Way were called Christians. (See Acts 11:25-26).
But what does this have to do with what they did to see churches planted throughout the known world?
Amazing things happen when we teach the Word of God. It turns out prophets and teachers were present at Antioch after this year with Barnabas and Paul. And it turns out that they were compelled to pray (probably because the Bible says that's a good thing to do). So while they were worshiping, praying, and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them." Then it says they kept fasting and praying and when they were done they laid hands on these two men and sent them off. (See Acts 13:1-3).
They were worshiping, fasting, and praying. Seems like a good idea, does't it?
I have another question.
How many of you would like to see 3,000 souls added to the Lord's Kingdom? I bet if we made a list of people for whom we are praying that God will save, 3,000 would cover lots of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members.
The disciples saw 3,000 souls added to the Kingdom following a single sermon preached by Peter. Who would't want to see something like that? (See Acts 2:14-41)
While it's not guarantee that simply doing what they did will produce the exact same results, doing what they did might lead to God doing something amazing in Salt Lake City. It's worth a try, right?
So what did they do?
Acts 1:12-14 says that after Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples gathered to devote themselves to prayer. Verse 15 says there were 120 at that meeting. 120 people were gathered for the purpose of prayer. Then when the day of Pentecost arrived, it says they were all together in one place. While they were there, the Holy Spirit filled the room, and more importantly, the Holy Spirit filled them. They spilled out of the room and some amazing things happened. One of those things was seen in a fisherman named Peter (yes, the same Peter who denied Christ three times about a month and a half before). Peter stood up, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and preached a sermon where 3,000 people were saved.
Now, there is not a perfect connection between the first part of the chapter and the latter part. The text does not say that they were praying in the room before the Holy Spirit fell upon them, but why wouldn't they be? How often do we see this group praying, every time they get together? Acts 2:42 (which is the verse immediately following the 3,000 saved souls) says, "And they devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." The opening of Chapter 3 shows that Peter and John were headed up to the temple to pray. On their way to pray, Jesus healed a guy through them and they got in trouble; but just after they were released, Acts 4:23-31 records the prayer of these men and their friends. And that prayer concluded with the place shaking and being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31).
How about when there was trouble with the distribution of bread to the widows in Acts 6? What was it that the apostles needed to devote their time to? Oh yeah, prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
Our list could go on and on. Remember when God rescued Peter from prison? What was everybody doing when Peter got to Mary's house late that night? Praying! (Acts 12:6-17). And in Acts 14 we see that Paul and Barnabas appointed Elders in every church and with prayer and fasting committed them to the Lord (Acts 14:23). The point is that the disciples prayed. Often. Maybe every time they were together. If you were a disciple in the First Century, you were known as someone who prayed.
And I like to think (although I have no proof) that the disciples prayed together from the day of Ascension to the day of Pentecost. Tradition celebrates the Day of Ascension 39 days after Easter (Ascension is the 40th day). Pentecost is celebrated is 50 days after Easter (including Easter day). This year, Ascension is May 5th. Pentecost is May 15th.
I propose that we, the saints of Redeeming Life (and anyone who would like to join us) make a special effort to prayer and fast from May 5th to May 15th. Let's pray more than usual. Let's be a people who are marked by prayer. If you are a disciple in the 21st century, shouldn't people think they same thing about you as they did of the disciples of the 1st Century?
What can you do in addition to your normal prayers? Is there a meal, or a couple meals, a day, or a couple days that you can fast? Can you join in fasting with others? How about getting together with others for prayer? How about setting alarms throughout the day to pray?
In addition, I will be posting prompts for prayer in our House of Prayer group on The City. Let's do what they did, and what they did was pray! Maybe, should God agree with our prayers, we too will see stuff like they saw. Let us pray!
On our knees for the Kingdom!