Transforming Local Churches into Praying Communities
Have you read the book of Acts lately? If you haven’t, now would be a great time to read it! In the book of Acts we discover the church as a praying community of flawed believers like you and me that experienced the miracle-working power of God as a common occurrence. Don’t we need to see God doing mighty things as commonly today?
Believers in the first-century church prayed as the breath of their lives. They gathered together in the upper room for ten days and prayed for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. They prayed with expectation that they would receive all that Jesus Christ had promised them.
Jesus’ disciples were in that room praying, though they had all deserted Him a few weeks before in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Acts 1:13). Jesus’ disciples were known for their constant arguments about who was the greatest. They were known for their doubts, hot tempers, pride, and lack of education . . . but they humbled themselves to pray together.
Women were praying together in that upper room (see Acts 1:14). Oh yes, there was Mary the mother of Jesus there, but that was no surprise. But there is good reason to believe that the women who had been consistently caring for Jesus and for His twelve disciples out of their own means were there also. These were women with a past who were healed and delivered by the Messiah and given a new identity as daughters of the King (see Luke 8:1–3). They were there to pray together with this young community of faith.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and rested like plumes of fire on all 120 believers in the upper room (see Acts 2:1–4). Why? All 120 believers were earnestly praying together, claiming what Jesus had promised them.
They prayed together because they had all been told to wait to receive the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:4, 5). They prayed together because they knew they needed each other to be who Christ called them to be and to do what He called them to do. They prayed together, and they received who was promised together!
As they prayed together and were all filled with the Holy Spirit, they were united and shaped into a faith-filled body of believers. Praying together led to these believers worshipping together, fellowshipping together, and eating together in each other’s homes (see Acts 2:42, 46). As they became a community of faith, they began to know each other’s needs like never before.
As the believers prayed, their faith grew. As they acted on their faith with obedience to the Great Commission, the Holy Spirit had a reason to give them more and still more of His life-transforming power. The church, this community of faith, was a walking witness in the markets, in the fields, in the homes of family and friends, and in the synagogues that the crucified Christ was indeed alive (see Acts 2:32).
With such a witness, thousands were convicted of their own need for Christ (see Acts 2:37, 41). Skeptical priests became believers and joined the church (see Acts 6:7). Men, women, and youth who had cried, “Crucify Him!” were now convicted to crown Him—this Jesus of Nazareth—by sacrificing all they had to bring Him glory.
Believers faced bitter persecution, but the community of faith was unstoppable. When they lost their jobs, positions, homes, and lands, the praying church responded with those who still had a little money and some land selling what they had and giving it to others with less, in support of all sharing the gospel (see Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32–37). Believers shared the gospel anywhere, anytime, and at any cost.
The Holy Spirit is ready to call His people to pray together again! You and your church family can experience the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit! Do not be content to only read of the power of the Holy Spirit in the early church. Cry out to God to be part of what the Holy Spirit is ready to do again in the church today!
What can you do to call your church to be an active, praying community of faith?
- Begin by personally claiming the promises of God by faith in prayer daily.
- Ask God for one person of your same gender to pray with. Begin praying together each week.
- Divide the names of your church family into lists of ten. Recruit prayer partners to pray daily for each name.
- Pray together once a week with all prayer partners in person, if possible. If not, pray together online.
- Host a revival for your church family for all ages to call all to Christ through prayer, His written Word, and in witness.
- Conclude the revival with a “What’s Next?” meeting to seek God together about how to continue to grow in faith and faithfulness in the use of all He has given you: time, talent, treasure, and influence.
- Act on this promise: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20, 21, NASB).