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Prayer That Will Transform Your Church1 Acts 12:1-162 The Book of Acts, written under the inspiration

and anointing of the Holy Spirit by Dr. Luke, is often referred to as The Acts of the Holy Spirit. Really, Luke describes the work of the Holy Spirit through holy men and women in response to their extraordinary prayers delivering men and women and boys and girls from the powers of Satan, setting them free to be all God created them to become and to accomplish all God called them to do, transforming people, families, and churches. Today we are talking about Prayer That Will Transform Your Church. This delivering kind of prayer will deliver people who are bound by sin (captured by drugs, pornography, critical spirits, negative attitudes). It will deliver churches that are bound by nongrowth attitudes. 1. The Prerequisites of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church 6 When they were together for the last time they asked, Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time? 7 He told them, You dont get to know the time. Timing is the Fathers business. 8 What youll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world. 9 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud (Acts 1:6-9 MSG). Then later, 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:1-4 NIV). These were Christian believers who, in obedience to the instructions of Jesus, waited together, unified in prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit who sanctified them and made them holy, and gave birth to the church. The church was born in prayer, the empowerment by the Spirit was born in prayer. Three thousand people were saved and added to the church in response to prayer, the witness of the Christ Followers on the streets and the preaching of Peter. The prerequisites of dynamic prayer that turned the world upside down and peoples lives right side up were: a. b. c. d. They Were in Obedience waiting in the upper room They Were in Unity (in one accord, KJV) They Were in the Spirit and Filled by the Holy Spirit They Were in Prayer That Delivered People from Sin and Gave Them New Life e. They Were Effective 2. The People of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Those Christian believers the people of prayer, now made holy by being filled with the Holy Spirit, continued in consistent prayer, the result of which was that everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles...and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:43, 47b). 3. The Persistence of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church

Those praying people would not give up or quit. Because of this intense, consistent ministry of prayer, the Holy Spirit worked through the apostles and the church in an awesome way. In Acts 3, Peter and John healed and delivered the crippled beggar. It must have been like I heard someone say, when Peter and John were approaching the temple, probably coming out of a time of prayer, the people looked up and said, Look! here comes the Holy Spirit, all dressed up in Peter and John! The Spirit of God was working in those holy men in power and majesty. They preached and taught with life-changing power everywhere they went because they persisted in prayer. The preachers preached, the teachers taught, the deacons served, the people prayed, the Spirit worked, and God did a mighty work through them. And He will do the same again, if we will persist in Prayer that Will Transform Your Church. If we are Gods Church, then people ought to see the Holy Spirit dressed up in us! 4. The Presumption of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church The presumption of prayer means that men and women of prayer presume that God will hear and answer their prayers. Sandie commented on this, saying, They realized that prayer was their ultimate weapon. One great example of this is in Acts 4:29-31, 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. Great prayer is the price of great power it will shake the powers of Satan and hell and the whole evil world system that is always trying to come against us. It will set men and women and boys and girls, and churches, homes, businesses, schools, and an entire nation free from the power of sin Empowered by the Son of God, to Become All God Created Them to Be; and Energized by the Spirit of God, to Accomplish All You Calls Them to Do. We can Presume that God will do this in answer to our intercessory prayers. 5. The Price of Postponement of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Everything went along quite well, in spite of some persecution of the church by the unbelievers, until we get to Acts 12, which is an ironic piece of drama. The first two verses describe King Herod having James the brother of John, and fellow apostle with Peter, put to death with the sword: It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. Still, Herod was not satisfied, for Luke continues the story, saying: When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover (Acts 12:1-3).

Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 2

Now here is the irony. James was killed by the sword. Peter was thrown into prison, chained between two soldiers, with sentries standing guard at the gate. Thats not a pretty picture! Not much hope in that plot, is there? During the night, while Peter was sleeping, an angel of the Lord appeared in a brilliant display of light, woke Peter, told him to get up. The chains fell off Peters wrists, and the angel led him out of the cell, through the main gate, past the sentries and down the street a block or so. Peter, stunned and thinking he was having a dream, soon came to his senses and realized that God had delivered him from the prison. He then headed for the home of Mary the mother of John Mark. Why was James killed and Peter imprisoned but miraculously released? Herods intent was to kill him after the Feast of Unleavened Bread was finished. Apparently, the church was caught off guard when James was killed. Nothing is said about the church praying for James like they did for Peter. That is The Price of Postponement of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church. James death woke them up; they now focused their full attention on God and the power of prayer. For when Peter was arrested, the church went into an all night prayer meeting: After arresting him, [Herod] put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him (v. 4-5). The sleeping church was now awake and praying! Sometimes it takes a tragedy, or a persecution, or some type of harassment, or a difficult situation, or a crisis to help us put our lives back in proper order and to enable us to get Gods perspective on things. Because of neglect, over-involvement, lethargy, distractions, procrastination, just plain old laziness, our lives are weakened through a DILUTED DEVOTIONAL LIFE. When a crisis strikes, we discover that our strength and resources have been depleted, and we have little or nothing with which to face the situation. We are devastated, disoriented, discouraged, disabled, or defeated. Persons we love remain bound by impossibleseeming situations. Homes break up. Churches lose their sparkle and enthusiasm, and fail in their mission. People begin bickering, quarreling, arguing and falling out with one another. Instead of fighting against sin or contending against the powers of Satan, they attack loved ones and friends, and even brothers and sisters in Christ in their own church and their own families! And the result is just what Satan wanted: a loss of direction, a loss of love, a loss of power, a loss of mission. Good Christian people are set on the shelf, out of touch, out of fellowship, out of service. Tragic! James was not delivered. But no mention is made of the church praying for James like they prayed for Peter. Peter lived to continue in ministry because the church prayed. There are today, I believe, many fallen, hurt, discarded, bruised and battered ministers, churches, lay men and women, teenagers, and boys and girls who are out of fellowship and out of service, because the church has not prayed for them. There are possibly many who are on the verge of burn-out, struggling with temptations, feeling like giving up and quitting, who could be delivered and set free and empowered to get up and try again, if only the church would wake up from her lethargy and begin to pray for one another. 6. The Passion of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church

Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 3

However, in Jerusalem, this second crisis drove the church to her knees. Those people were passionate about their praying now they went into an all night prayer meeting. I think they would have stayed in prayer longer if Peter had not been delivered when he was. In verse 6, the night before Herod was going to bring Peter to trial, the astonishing result was that Peter was released miraculously by an angel of the Lord. While Peter was in prison, shackled, heavily guarded, the church was earnestly praying to God for him (Acts 12:5). Prayer brought the angel; prayer focused the bright light on the cell; prayer opened the door to the cell; prayer opened the gate of the prison; prayer kept the guards from awakening; prayer took Peter out into the street. The Power of Passionate Prayer delivered Peter. 7. The Power of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Satan will do anything he can to keep us from prayer of this sort, because he knows that when Christian people pray consistently for one another, and for our own needs, he loses his power over them. He becomes a defeated foe. The prayers of Christian people for one another, and for us, are like the artillery companies of the army (Like the air power in Desert Storm). The artillery fire disorients and weakens the enemy forces, often causing them to retreat or even to surrender. Then the soldiers are able to go in and take over the territory held by the enemy. When Christian people begin to pray earnestly for one another, God answers with victory, freedom, new power, restored relationships; shackles are broken; people are released to love and minister to one another. The church is enabled to move forward in ministry and service to a hurting world. However, this is not a now I lay me down to sleep kind of prayer. Luke says the church was earnestly praying to God for him (Acts 12:5 NIV). The King James Version says, Without ceasing. The Greek word used means, literally, stretched-out. It represents the soul and spirit and emotions and mind of a person stretched out in the intensity of its earnestness before God in prayer. The picture in this word is a group of runners toeing the mark, excitedly waiting for the starting pistol signaling for them to begin the race. At the peak of the race, in the last moments, the runners are charging down the track with every nerve and muscle stretched out toward the finish line; every vein in their arms and legs is standing out as the blood rushes through, for every runner is stretching out to win the race. It is a good picture the souls, spirits, emotions and minds of a group of persons stretched out in intense earnestness before God, in behalf of another person. There is tremendous, enormous, immense, extraordinary power in that kind of praying. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16). Thats not just a little one-time prayer that we throw up to God. It is intense stretched-out prayer on behalf of others or ourselves. This kind of praying is like turning on a light switch. You flip the switch on the wall and the lights go on. It seems like such a simple thing. Yet behind it is a complicated process. There are the transmission towers, the substations, the dam built to hold back the water, the turbines that produce the electricity, and the poles on which the wires are strung. A tremendous complexity lies behind the simple act of turning on a light switch. Every time we do it, power surges forth but it comes only because of that complicated process. Every time we come to the place where,
Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 4

in quietness, we call out to the Lord, a tremendous process is behind it. There is the plan made by the Father and the Son before the creation of the world, the birth at Bethlehem, the darkness and anguish of the mystery of the cross, the wonder and miracle of the resurrection, the sending forth of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost all of this is the process behind a single individual when he or she calls on the name of the Lord in earnest, stretched-out-ed kind of prayer. God is behind it, He has started it.3 And He is the One who empowers it to bring deliverance, victory, hope, restoration and revival to persons and churches. When Peter came out of the door of the cell, there was the door leading to the prison yard; and then the Iron Gate! But it didnt matter! Those were big obstacles, but a BIGGER GOD was leading him! Prayer that Transformed a Board, a Pastor, and a Church After I finished seminary and had been in my first pastorate (which lasted 21 years) for several years, I was sensing a spiritual dryness and a desire for a refreshing movement of God in my life and ministry. Although the ministry of the church was going along rather well, and the church was growing slowly but steadily, it seemed that we had reached a spiritual plateau. I began praying for God to show me a clear vision of what we needed to move us to the next level of ministry. As I prayed, the impression I consistently sensed in my inner spirit was, Become a man of prayer. Become a man of prayer. I responded, But Lord, I do prayevery morning and night with our daughters, at meal time, at weddings and funerals, in church services, at grand openings for all kinds of businesses, for various community and civic functions (I was chaplain for the Chamber of Commerce), when I need a new sermon for Sunday morning, and any other time I feel the need to do so. Still, the challenge kept flooding my mind, Become a man of prayer. Then I remembered the lifestyle of people like my father, who was recognized as a man of prayer by all who knew him well. As consistently as the sun rises, he arose every morning at five oclock and went to his study for prayer and meditation on the Word of God. I thought of some of the biblical prayer giants like Daniel, Elijah, Paul, Peter, and the greatest modelour Lord Jesus Christ. When I compared my prayer life to theirs, I realized that while I prayed often, I was not a man of prayer. Against that backdrop I made a covenant with the Lord that I would become a man of prayer. I attempted to follow the example of our Lord, as Luke described His devotional practices. Within a few verses, Luke mentions three times the source of His power: At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place . . . (Luke 4:42). Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed . . . (Luke 5:16). . . . Jesus went out into the hills to pray, and spent the night praying to God (Luke 6:12). I began going to my study early in the morning, before most people were awake, and before the phone started ringing, to spend considerable time alone with God in prayer and the Word. Among other issues, I prayed daily for my church board. Those men were wonderful Christian men, and we were great friends. We had splendid fellowship with one another. We hunted and fished together, went out for pie and coffee after the board meetings, and visited in one anothers homes. However, during the board meetings something changed between us. We could spend an hour or more haggling over a ten-dollar expenditure, or about some program or ministry issue.
Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 5

Feeling like a change needed to be made at the top, I began praying, Lord, please give me a new Board. I did not care how He accomplished that requesteither by putting new persons on the Board, or by making new persons out of the existing members. I prayed that prayer consistently for a year without seeing much outward change. Then one night following a time when I had been out of town for nearly a month, just before the close of our monthly board meeting, Chairman Jerry said to me, Sam, after the meeting is over, I need to talk to you. After the other members had left, Jerry said, Sam, while you were away we had a board meeting. I thought, Oh, no, Ive heard of meetings like that! Jerry continued, We were discussing the condition of our church . . . I thought, Here it comes! The next statement will be, and youre the problem. So, here is my resignation. Then came the shocker, . . . and we realized that we have not been giving you the support you need as our pastor; but that has changed. A couple of weeks ago we began an early morning prayer meeting on Thursdays to pray for you and the church, and we invite you to join us! I was ecstatic! After a solid year of praying with very few visible results, God had given me a new Board. He had also given them a new pastor, for the time spent with Him alone in prayer had affected my life deeply in my inner spirit. Our board meetings took on a new tone in the months that followed, for we spent much time in prayer and Bible study together, and a little time on the business affairs of the church. We practiced this for another year without seeing many visible changes in the congregation. Meanwhile, during that year, I sensed the Lord leading me to preach on the subject of prayer often, so often that I was sometimes concerned that the people would get tired of hearing about prayer. Several months later, people began sharing how God was answering prayers in their lives, families, jobs, and schools. Miraculous things were happening. After two years of intense prayer, the church was growing, alive, healthy, and vibrant. New people were coming weekly. Peoples lives were being changed. It was an exciting time. The theme of our church was becoming a reality: Where love is thick, faults are thin; try our love! Visitors often commented on the love, acceptance, and warmth they sensed when they came to our services. That is the awesome power of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church! 8. The Primacy of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Primacy means the importance of prayer. Prayer does not necessarily replace our actions, but it should direct our actions and it will empower them to do, as Paul wrote, immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20). Could James have been saved and given many more years of service to the Master if the church had prayed for him as they did for Peter? We can only speculate. But I am confident that there are men and women and boys and girls who could experience release, renewal, restoration if the church of today would follow the example of that ancient church in Jerusalem and pray earnestly to God for their deliverance. There are churches that could experience a heaven-sent, Godhonoring, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-anointed, prayer-generated, situation-rearranging, lifechanging, family-mending, church-transforming revival if people would unite in consistent,

Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 6

earnest prayer to the God of heaven. That is the quality of power available when we make prayer a primary force in our lives and ministries! 9. The Persuasiveness of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church God acted in response to their prayers. He was persuaded that they were sincere and they believed He could and would act on their behalf. Those early Christians in Jerusalem did not organize a mob and storm the kings castle. Nor did they circulate a petition and get the names of leading Christians in Jerusalem signed on it, asking Herod to release Peter. Nor did they take up an offering and offer Herod a bribe to release Peter, although Herod was not above that. They did not set up a bunch of picket lines. They held a prayer meeting to pray Peter out of prison. And that was absolutely successful! That is why James could write, The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective (James 5:16 NIV). That verse is Gods promise of The Persuasiveness of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church. 10. The Profound Astonishment of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Peter was delivered from prison It dawned on him . . . 12 Still shaking his head, amazed, he went to Marys house, the Mary who was John Marks mother. The house was packed with praying friends. 13 When he knocked on the door to the courtyard, a young woman named Rhoda came to see who it was. 14 But when she recognized his voicePeters voice!she was so excited and eager to tell everyone Peter was there that she forgot to open the door and left him standing in the street. 15 But they wouldnt believe her, dismissing her, dismissing her report. Youre crazy, they said. She stuck by her story, insisting. They still wouldnt believe her and said, It must be his angel. 16 All this time poor Peter was standing out in the street, knocking away. Finally they opened up and saw himand went wild! (Acts 12:12-16 MSG) they were astonished! (NIV) How long has it been since people were astonished by the results of our prayers? 11. The Pervasiveness of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Pervasiveness means spreading widely through something; widespread. The results of that prayer meeting were amazing, and they spread rapidly: a. The people in the prayer meeting were astonished (Acts 12:16). b. Herod was disciplined by God (Acts 12:19-23). c. The word of God continued to increase and spread (Acts 12:24). d. In a worship service, the Holy Spirit directed the church to send Barnabas and Saul on a missionary journey that would result in the spread of the gospel around the world (Acts 12:13:1-3). This kind of praying appears to be rare in most Christian circles today. This is the reason why so many of our lives, homes, and churches are weak, anemic, and ineffective in ministering to the needs of people entrusted to our care most Christians are not really people of prayer, true prayer warriors. However, I resolutely believe that God is calling Christian leaders especially, and all Christians, to a lifestyle of praying earnestly for a massive spiritual revival that will produce a spiritual climate in which people can be released from all the destructive and
Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 7

debilitating things that hold them captive. This must begin in individual Christian people who are pursuing their personal spiritual formation, the shaping of our inner lives and relationships with God in a way that transforms our outer lives and relationships with other persons. Then, as individual Christians grow in their relationship with God, and as they begin to work together with other spiritually attuned Christians, they will form a network of people whose main desire is to be wholly committed to the purposes of God. In that climate of earnestly praying Christians we will witness the awesome outpouring of the anointing of God in revival, release, and restoration. The Power of Pervasive of Prayer Is That It Will Spread Widely and Transform Our Lives, Churches, Schools, Businesses, and Nation. 12. The Perseverance of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved (Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV). God Will See to That Our Persevering Prayers Will Transform Our Lives, Churches, Schools, Businesses, and Nation. 13. The Practice of Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Lets pray this prayer together: Lord God, shape us into people of prayer. The times in which we are living demand that we be people of the Word, people of prayer, people of worship people of God. Ignite a fire within us, Lord. Help us to pray prayers that are powerful and effective. Enable us to ignore the distractions that Satan would send to keep us from the kind of prayer that will hold us in close, intimate relationship with You. Give us Your vision of how you want us to live and how You want to use us in meeting the needs of people around us. Empower us to intercede for Your servants, some of whom are tired, wounded, discouraged, tempted, buffeted, ready to give up, or about to give in to Satans seductions. Help us to pray the prayers that You want us to pray. Then hear us from heaven and answer us with a mighty rushing wind of revival, renewal, restoration and rejuvenation of our lives, churches, homes and relationships. Empower us to experience a heaven-sent, God-honoring, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-anointed, prayer-generated, situation-rearranging, life-changing, family-mending, church-transforming revival as we unite in consistent, earnest prayer around Your Throne. Shape us into prayer warriors that cannot be deterred, distracted, discouraged or defeated. Keep us faithful, Lord. In the name of Him who alone is able to hear and answer our prayers, our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

1.

Bruce, Sam. (2008). Spiritual Formation: Forming Your Relationship with God, Transforming Your

Relationships with Other People. Phoenix, AZ: Intermedia Publishing Group. Used by permission.
Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 8

2.

All Scripture from New International Version unless indicated otherwise. Based on Ray Stedman, From Guilt to Glory: Vol II, Expository Studies In Romans 9-16. 2010 Ray

3.

Stedman Ministries; PO Box 615; Mount Hermon, CA 95041

Prayer That Will Transform Your Church Dr. Sam Bruce, 2008, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; drsambruce@aol.com; PowerPoint presentation & outline available Page 9

NOTE: This sermon was submitted by Dr. Sam Bruce as a Focus 40 resource and is presented as received.