|by Jim Cymbala
Have you ever noticed that Jesus launched the Christian church, not while someone was preaching, but while people were praying? In the first two chapters of Acts, the disciples were doing nothing but waiting on God. As they were just sitting there...worshipping, communing with God, letting God shape then and cleanse their spirits and do those heart operations that only the Holy Spirit can do...the church was born. The Holy Spirit was poured out.
What does it say about our churches today that God birthed the church in a prayer meeting, and prayer meetings today are almost extinct?
Am I the only one who gets embarrassed when religious leaders in America talk about prayer in schools? We don't have even that much prayer in many churches! Out of our humility, you would think we would keep quiet on that particular subject until we practice what we preach in our own congregations.
I am sure that the Roman emperors didn't have prayer to God in their schools. But then, the early Christians didn't seem to care what Caligula or Claudius or Nero did. How could any emperor stop God? How, in fact, could the demons of hell make headway when God's people prayed and called upon his name? Impossible!
In the New Testament we don't see Peter or John wringing their hands and saying, "Oh, what are we going to do? Caligula's bisexual...he wants to appoint his horse to the Roman senate...what a terrible model of leadership! How are we going to respond to this outrage?"
Let's not play games with ourselves. Let's not divert attention away from the weak prayer life of our own churches. In Acts 4, when the apostles were unjustly arrested, imprisoned and threatened, they didn't call for a protest; they didn't reach for some political leverage. Instead, they headed to a prayer meeting. Soon the place was vibrating with the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 23-31).
The apostles had this instinct: When in trouble, pray. When intimidated, pray. When challenged, pray. When persecuted, pray.
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Editor's Note: Excerpted from Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People, by Jim Cybala (Zondervan, 1997), available at bookstores or by calling 1-800-727-3480.
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