First Baptist Church of Rockville

The Church should make it a priority to pray together.

Texts: Acts 6:1-5

Sermon series: When the Church Prays

Title: “The Church should make it a priority to pray together.”

* Please forgive me for hiding my sister’s favorite doll…and please don’t tell her where it is.

* A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, would you like to say the blessing?"  
"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," the woman answered. The daughter bowed her head and said,
"Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"

Theme: “This morning I am on a mission: I want to convince you that God has ordained corporate prayer in His church.  Scripture teaches something simple, profound, and stirring: Praying Churches are used of God to change the world.”

* Understand that this message is not given to minimize personal prayer. Instead, it is to show you that personal prayer alone will not result in the working of God to the degree needed for spiritual transformation in our lives, our church, our cities, and our nation.

* Nothing is more basic or more important than prayer and preaching. 

* The phrase ‘in those days’ describe what is taking place.  We can use that same phrase for today.  In these days, the church is under attack from a progressive anti-religious sentiment that is trying to change America. 

Persecution, corruption and finally distraction. These are the tools of Satan that he uses on Christians to keep them from

  1. Conflict in the church.

Acts 6:1, “In those days when the number of discipleswas increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complainedagainst the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.”

* Growth and Grumbling always go together.  There is no church on this earth that is immune to these two G’s. Notice that food plays an important place in this argument. Today, we argue over music!

* It is enough for us to realize the Greek speaking Jewish widows from settlements outside of Israel were being treated different from the original Hebraic Jewish widows.

* If people will grumble with the Apostles don’t be surprise when they do it to you.  They go around complaining, that’s not the way to do.  You should do this or that. They need a world of their own. They will claw their eyes out and destroy any world you let them in.

* Grumbling and complaining are threats to the stability and unity of the Church. Notice they did not gather everyone together and ask, ‘what do you think we ought to do?’  Nor did the close down the Keenagers luncheon. 

* We could just stop and move to small groups.  You will enjoy it.  This preaching thing is creating too many problems.  This was not the response.

  1. Devotion to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

Acts 6:2-4, “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to themand will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

* It is not right to give up prayer and preaching to wait on tables.  This would be a violation from the word of God.

* John 21:15, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

* They are not devaluing the ministry to the widows.  The ministry must continue. 

* They are teaching us the priority of prayer and preaching.

* The apostles are not referring to the need for personal, private prayer. Instead, they are talking about the ministry of mobilizing the people of God to pray together. They were marking out the two ministries they must especially do as church leaders. Let me show you the clues that lead to this conclusion.

* Every occurrence of prayer in Acts preceding Chapter 6 (1:14, 24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31) pictures the apostles leading others in prayer. Not one reference points to their private prayer time; the focus is on God's people praying together.

Acts 1:14, “They alljoined together constantly in prayer, along with the womenand Marythe mother of Jesus and with his brothers.”

* Literally, we will persevere inprayer, and to the ministry of the word.

* The apostles learned their leadership patterns from the Master, Jesus Christ. In the Gospels, Jesus' refers to prayer 37 times.  Of these, 33 of them were addressed to a plural rather than singular audience. In other words, Jesus' instruction decisively leaned toward praying with others, not just praying in private.

* Matt. 7:7: "Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you."

* We read "you" in that verse and immediately think it's singular, referring to an individual. In fact, it is a plural "you," meaning Jesus is urging a gathering of believers to ask, seek, and knock.

Matt. 18:19: Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.

  1. How does the word of God continue to increase?

 Acts 6:7, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

English standard version; “And the word of God continued to increase…”

* What does this mean?  I believe this is the key and if we can figure it out we can better prepare ourselves for effective ministry to a lost world.

* Beloved, our nation has taken the word of God out of our schools, off the walls of our government building and would love to remove it from our Constitution. 

* In a world where the word of God is become scarce how do we increase this valuable commodity?  It is valuable to me how about you?

Proverbs 6:21-22, “Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.”

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

* Beloved, can you see? When we put the word in our heart the world can’t take it away.

Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

* The minister of the Word must not choose between study and prayer. Study without prayer is the work of pride. Prayer without study is presumption.

* In the next couple of weeks I am going to share with you one of the greatest revivals that took place in America. 

* In 1857, America was riding the wave of a strong economy, and, as tends to be true in times of prosperity, showed a radical decrease of interest in the things of God. There was a layman named Jeremiah Lamphier whose concern led to a call for prayer. He tacked up notices in NYC calling for a weekly prayer meeting on Wednesdays from noon till one at a rented space on Fulton Street.

* The first prayer meeting was on September 23, 1857. Only six people came, and they didn't arrive until just before 12:30. The next week, the attendance jumped to 20. The numbers continued to climb week-by-week.

* Then, on October 10th, the Stock Market crashed and financial panic ensued. Trouble had its humbling affect and the hearts of many turned to spiritual matters. It wasn't long until somewhere between 10 and 50,000 businessmen were meeting every day in NYC to pray at noon. By week 15, the meetings moved from weekly to daily.

* In 1858, this prayer movement leaped to every major city in America. The Second Great Awakening swept our land. Estimates are that a million Americans out of a population of 30 million at that time were converted in less than two years. And it all started with corporate prayer.

* The Civil War began in April 12th1861 and many of those million that were saved lost their lives during that conflict.

* Let’s pray for a revival in America.  Let’s pray for a new Family life pastor for our youth.  Let’s pray for the finances to complete the new building.

A Baloney Sandwich by Bob Benson:

Do you remember when they had old fashion Sunday School picnics? I do. As I recall, it was back in the ‘olden days’, back before air conditioning. They said, ‘we’ll all meet at the Sycamore Lodge in Shelby Park at four-thirty on Saturday.  You bring your supper and we will furnish the iced tea.’ But if you were like me, you came home at the last minute.  When you got ready to pack your picnic, all you could find in the refrigerator was one dried up piece of baloney and just enough mustard to the bottom of the jar so that you got it all over your knuckles trying to get to it. Just two stale bread slices made your baloney sandwich.  I wrapped it up in an old brown bag and went to the picnic.  When it came time to eat, you sat at the end of the table and spread out your sandwich. But the folks who sat next to me brought a feast.  They had fried chicken and bake beans and potato salad, homemade rolls and sliced tomatoes and pickles and olives and celery. And two big homemade chocolate pies to top it off.  That’s what they spread out next to me while I sat looking at my sad baloney sandwich. Then I heard this amazing woman say to me, ‘why don’t we just put it all together?” ‘No, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t even think of it.’ But she insisted, ‘oh, come on, there’ plenty of chicken and plenty of pie and we just love baloney sandwiches.’ And so I did and there I sat eating like a king when I came like a pauper. One day it dawned on me that God had been saying that sort of thing to me. “Why don’t you take what you have and what you are, and I will take what I have and what I am, and we’ll share it together.” I began to see that when I put what I had and was and am and hoped to be with what He is, I had stumbles on the bargain of a lifetime. It does matter how much or how little I bring because He invites me to share. “Let’s just put it all together.” When I think about it like that it really amuses me to see somebody running along through life hanging on to their baloney sandwich.  ‘God’s not going to get my sandwich.  The fact is God does not need you sandwich. You need His chicken! We all have been invited to share in something better.  When we pray as a church we place it all out and share together!

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