The Power of Prayer

When you read the only inspired church history that was ever penned (The Book of Acts) you see an amazing pattern of victory.  Victory over circumstances, victory over wicked governments, over enemies, over demons, and even death. (The boy that fell out the window is an example).  And one of the most important is the miracle of lost sinners coming to a saving faith in Jesus.  Let’s look at a few examples.

Act 2:47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Act 4:4  Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Act 5:14  And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

Act 6:7  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Almost every chapter of the book of Acts has some victory mentioned in it.  It documents the power of God working thru His people.

What a difference between the early church and the church of today.  We see relatively few saved today.  Nowhere near what they saw.  Some might say that is it because there is so much opposition today.  Actually there was very bitter, determined, and relentless opposition in those days.  So that is not the reason.

Others might say that God does not work that way anymore, or that it is no longer His will to save that many people today.  But that goes against the character of God.

2Pe_3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God still wants to see people saved today just as much as He wanted people to be saved back then.

Mar 6:34  And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw people without a shepherd.  Jesus is just as moved with compassion upon them today.

Heb_13:8  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

The reason we do not see the power of God working today is not because God is tired, it is not because the opposition is too strong for God, it is not because He does not want to see them saved.  Jesus still has great compassion.  So that is not the reason.

I think one of the reasons (not the only reason) can be found in Acts 2:42

I  They Had a  Praying People

Act 2:42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

a. They all prayed.

Not just a select few.  The they is referring to those in the previous verse.  Act 2:41  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

About three thousand souls got saved, they were baptized and added to the church, which numbered about 120 at that time. The they in verse 42 is talking about the 3,000 plus people in verse 41.  And they (3,000 plus) prayed.

Spiritually speaking that should be the natural thing to do.  You realize your sinful state; you realize your need and call upon God.  He answers and saves you.  That should lead to you realizing how great He is, how he answers prayer, and therefore you keep praying.  Your need for Him to work on your behalf in all other areas of life does not change.  And your desire should be that He work on the behalf of others.

These people realized that it is God that must do the work in the hearts of men.  He must bring the conviction, He must open the eyes, He must work in the circumstances of life to see souls saved.  It is God that must empower the preaching of the Word.  And the pattern that you see in the Bible is that God wants to be asked.  The people in Acts understood that and they all prayed.

This is not what we see today.  There are many good churches today that are preaching good messages, they are putting out tracts, they are doing a good job at welcoming visitors, but they are not praying.  O’ a few may be praying, but nowhere near the percentage of the church that was praying in Acts.  It is like they are trying to lift the load by themselves.  They are putting effort into God’s work, but it is a heavy load that only He can carry.

It is a much better idea to follow the example that God gave us in His Word.  And that is all members of the church should be praying for the work.  And later in the book of Acts you will see that they would pray alone, pray in small groups, and they would also gather together as a local church body and pray.  A good example of that is when Peter was in Jail.

Act 12:12  And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

Many were gathered. Today very few gather for church prayer time.

How much better is it to have the work done the proper way!  God can lift an infinite more amount than we can.  Our place is not to do the lifting ourselves.  Our place is to ask Him to do the lifting.

b. They prayed continually

It was not a once in a while thing.  They prayed all the time.  I think they understood the verse that says pray without ceasing.

c. And with steadfast determination.

They did not quit.  They were steadfast in praying.  To be steadfast is to be fixed, firm, and resolute.  It is a firmness of mind or purpose.

And they were determined.  That is they had a firm and fixed purpose.  They were going to ask God to work, and they were going to keep on asking.  They understood what the parable about the woman who kept asking the judge was about.

II  Praying Preachers

a. The ministers put a high value on prayer.

Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  The context here is when some widows needed some more attention.  Giving them that attention would have been a good thing.  An important thing even.  The preachers were not making light of the need.  They took action and made sure that the widows were taken care of.  They were putting prayer first.  They understood their Great need for asking God to work.  So much so that even some things that were good to do were delegated to others.  So that spending time with God in prayer would come first.

b. The people also wanted praying ministers.

Act 6:5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude:

When the people heard that the Pastors were going to put prayer above taking time for the widows, and that the widows were going to get taken care of.  They were pleased with it.  That is a healthy spiritual body of believers who understood the great need of prayer.  Not only for the people but also for the pastors.  Instead we should be a people who want our preachers to spend a lot of time in prayer.


What you had in the book of Acts is a praying church, not just praying preachers.  “A praying church and a praying ministry! Ah, such a church and such a ministry can achieve anything that ought to be achieved.  It will go steadily on, beating down all opposition, surmounting every obstacle, conquering every foe, just as much today as it did in the days of the apostles.” – R.A. Torry

The early church had great power.  God was working in the hearts of men in a way that we have not seen in quite some time.  And the main reason was that they were a people of prayer.  They took it seriously, they took the time for prayer, to put it first, and humbly ask God for grace and mercy.

And look what happened later after this church of over 3,000 got to praying.  Just two chapters later we find this.

Act 4:2  Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Act 4:3  And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

Act 4:4  Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

5,000 more got saved after the church got to praying.  The opposition did not stop, it increased.  They were put in jail and even beaten.  But they kept praying.  They received the boldness and strength to keep going, and Souls got saved and more souls got saved, and lives were changed and probably the most important thing is that God was glorified.

Prayer is very powerful.

See all the Lessons on Prayer