11/29/1998 6:00 PM
In the course of time difficulty arose. Controversies and troubles will arise and there is a way to handle it. The disciples concern was that the emphasis stay in the right place. In difficulties that arise be continually in the word and in prayer. Keep your focus on God. You never get "prayed up" or to the point where you never have to pray anymore. "Praying always..." Be continuously in prayer. Have a prayer life as long as you live. It is an essential part of our life. Keep your priorities right.
A picture of how things can work: Ananias and Paul were both praying and God was working on both ends. In the controversies, problems and challenges God will work on both ends at once if they will pray. The Lord needs to be able to inform us as we may have old information. Saul of Tarsus was well-known, but he was praying, and he also saw a vision. He saw Ananias coming.
Cornelius' vision: that his prayers had been heard and that God would work it through Peter. Verses 9-23 Cornelius prayed and obeyed the vision and before the men from Cornelius ever got there, Peter went to prayer and God went to work on Peter. God put things together that they could work with each other and both get something out of it. Sometimes God sends preachers places so that he can do a work on them. God will work if people will pray. God will give direction and understanding. There was a real work done here because 2 people prayed. Prayer is a time to be spent with God. It is how we are brought into the presence of God that we can hear from him.
The Spirit of God didn't let them preach where they wanted to, but sent them elsewhere. They didn't have the message for those people. It takes God's Spirit moving on hearts to bring salvation. They had the desire to go and God knew where to send. It takes prayer to find the open doors. When there are decisions and choices to be made, prayer will show you an open door. God will show us where we should go and what we should do. The answer to Paul's prayer was a picture of a man in prayer asking for help. We want to work in harmony with God, to go where he's working. When God's working on the other end there will be some interest. They went out by the river to the place of prayer to do the work of God once they arrived in Macedonia. They spoke to those who came to the praying place. God's work is done at the place of prayer. Salvation is found at the place of prayer, wherever that may be. verses 14 & 15 tell us that Lydia was one of the ones that found help at this place of prayer. verses 16-18 They continued going to the place of prayer. A girl that was possessed followed them, but Paul was not happy about this form of advertisement because it was produced by a wrong spirit. This girl found deliverance at the place of prayer. She found deliverance because Paul and Silas were faithful in continuing to the place of prayer. verses 23-26 In this instance the place of prayer was the jail. The jailer found God in this place of prayer. There are many places where prayer is appropriate. It might be in the midst of the storm or it might be by the peaceful river. They took what was there and made the best of it. It would have had to have been an unusual earthquake to shake off their chains and the other prisoners no doubt knew that something unusual had happened. This is evident in the fact that they were all still there when the jailer came. All times and all places are appropriate for prayer. You don't always know where you are going to be, but at any place where you can come into the presence of God is the place of prayer. If you feel the need to call in God in public, follow the leading of God. The admonishment about praying in your closet was not to pray to impress others. You should pray to find strength and grace in time of need, to worship God, or just to talk to him about something that is on your mind. Because these prayed, others found God at this place of prayer.
He admonishes... "Praying always... with all perseverance..." This doesn't mean you have to pray 24 hours a day, but to always have a readiness to pray. Don't let disappointments and discouragements hinder your prayers. Pray for others and about that which troubles you. The important thing is that you pray. Pray for those that bring the word. There's a great need for prayer today. Prayer changes things. Whatever happens, don't give up on prayer. God will work when his people pray. Keep on praying.