PRAY ALONG THE WAY
The Prayers of Paul in Acts
1. Sometimes the words of prayers have been so meaningful that they have been so meaningful that they have been passed down from one generation to another.
a. One example would be this prayer by Francis of Assisi:
Lord, grant that I may seek rather
To comfort than to be comforted,
To understand rather than to be understood,
To love than to be loved;
For it is by giving that one receives,
It is by self-forgetting that one finds,
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven,
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
b. The best example would be the model prayer offered by Jesus:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation. (Luke 11:2-4)
2. But sometimes the memorable lesson about prayer is not so much in the words that were said as in the occasion of the prayer and in the behavior of those who offered it.
a. The prayers of the apostle Paul in the book of Acts are a wonderful illustration of this point.
b. Since they were prayed by a servant along the way, they may provide an especially practical example for us as we begin to make our journey through the new year.
1. Paul On Prayer
a. We would get the idea that the beloved apostle was a praying man from the fact that he often mentioned his prayers for others. Colossians 1:9-12 is one of my favorite examples from his letters.
b. We would also come away with the impression that he was convince about the importance of prayer from the fact the he so often instructed his readers continue steadfastly in prayer. His vision of a strong Christian may be observed from the description in Ephesians 6:16-18.
c. But perhaps we would form our most vivid opinion about the place of prayer in his life by watching what he actually did along the way: did he take the time to pray in the midst of the business of life?
2. Paul While Praying
a. Acts 16:25
i. Here we learn the importance of praying in the middle of trying circumstances.
ii. Paul and Silas were in prison for doing good, for helping somebody.
iii. They had been beaten with rods for it, thrown into the inner prison, and their feet fastened in the stocks.
iv. But rather than acting ugly about it, they sang and prayed. They did so out loud, for the text says the prisoners were listening to them.
v. We’re not told what they prayed. We might assume some things from the situation. We may also be given some clues from the jailer’s question after the earthquake.
vi. At a time when self-pity would have been understandable, praying was on the minds of Paul and Silas.
vii. They became “more than conquerors” because of it.
b. Acts 20:36
i. The preceding context shows that it was the elders from the church in Ephesus with whom he was praying, and the following two verses show what an emotional circumstance it was.
ii. His talk with them in verses 17-35 indicates something of what they may have been praying about.
(1) They had been co-workers; they had seen him pour his life into finishing his course and fulfilling the ministry which he had been given by the Lord – testifying the gospel of the grace of God.
(2) Now it was likely that none of these brothers with whom he had worked so closely would see his face again (v. 25).
(3) They were going to have big responsibilities in caring for the church of God, and wolves were about.
(4) It’s like Paul was turning them over to the care of God and the word of his grace.
(5) He obviously wanted to motivate them to rise to the example he had tried to set for them.
iii. Though we don’t know what he said in this prayer, we con see that his confidence in prayer was so great that he wanted praying with these men to be the last thing he did with them on earth.
iv. What sweet, moving, fellowship this must have been!
v. That kind of meaningful prayer together is part of the motivation and strength we need in our fellowship with each other, too.
c. Acts 27:35
i. The important thing this time is the calm strength a prayer of thanksgiving can be as it influences other lives.
ii. You will remember that Paul was at this moment in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, in a ship which had been caught up in a terrible tempest, completely out of the control of the sailors, for fourteen days.
iii. There had been no break in the storm, and his fellow passengers had abandoned all hope of being saved. They all were fearful for their lives.
iv. Paul had already tried to reassure them with his confidence in the Lord’s word to him.
v. But this night they were fearful that they would run on the rocks, so they let down four anchors and “prayed for the day to come,” while some tried to escape.
vi. Paul warned them to stay on the ship in the Lord’s care, and, and when he offered this prayer, he was encouraging them to eat some food so they could regain their strength.
vii. In a similar way, our prayers may be a calming and encouraging influence upon our neighbors and friends.
1. This year, let us make sure we “pray along the way.” In fact, let’s do so tonight. Will you pray with me?
2. Acts 9:11 – “...for behold, he is praying...”
a. His praying didn’t save him. He was told to obey the gospel in order to have his sins washed away (cf. 22:16).
b. But his praying did show what kind of man he was and what kind of heart he had, and his prayers along the way continued to show that.