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. Acts 4:31 NIV
Can you imagine this scene? I have many times. I've wondered what it must have been like that day as those first disciples gathered to pray. It started innocently enough. You see, Peter and John had just been questioned and released by the Sanhedrin (for those of you who don't know the story as well, these are the "bad guys"). The bad guys had threatened them and commanded them not to talk about Jesus or anything that He had taught them. So, Peter and John, being the rebellious types that they were (remember they were Christ's followers and He was the ultimate rebel when it came to status quo), went to the house of one of their friends and began to talk. They didn't whine. They didn't complain. They didn't say, "Hey, let's try another religion. This one isn't working for me. The A/C never works at the temple and they are always asking me to work in the nursery with the little 'disciples.'" No, you never heard either one of these guys go, "I've got to make a change. I'm just not getting enough out of it."
Instead, they began to pray. Not silent, passive prayers. The Bible says they raised their voices to God and began to recount His accomplishments. In other words, they praised Him for His greatness. Then, there's this really cool part. You see, I've always wanted to be at a "ground-shaking" worship. I've always wanted to see God move in such an incredible way. I just knew there was some secret to this. Something I was missing was keeping it from happening to me and my people at RCC. Well, I found out the secret as I was reading this story again this morning. Now I know what it's going to take for my church to be that kind of church and for my people (beginning with me) to be the kind that shake the earth with the story of Christ. And the cool part is that it will work in your church too--guaranteed!! In fact, maybe you'll want to e-mail or call your friends and say, "This really, really cool pastor (that part is optional) has discovered the secret to making your church more powerful, more dynamic, more life-changing." Get out your journals and your pens and prepare to take notes. Here's how the first church turned life upside down for everyone in Jerusalem...
That's it. They asked. The verse right before the one that we just read says that those people were praying and thanking God for the past and giving Him their present concerns and they closed that prayer by saying, "By the way, will you do it again...right now...for us...in this place...for your glory?"
The Bible says, "You don't have because you don't ask." So, I have an idea. Feel free to ignore it and go back to your muffin and your coffee. But here's my thought. How about if you and I start asking God for something different in our churches? (This goes especially for you Ridgeview readers). How about we humble ourselves, break outside our little box and say this little prayer, "God, will you, because you are capable, blow away the ordinary and show us your power this week in our church? (that's church as in the people, not the building). Will you take all my pre-conceived ideas of what You should do and what You are like, wad them up into a giant, Holy spitball and fling them across the universe so that I can see what You are really like?"
Now, here's the catch. That first church made sure we got to hear the cool story they were a part of by writing it down for us. I want you, praying with me, to do two things: first, write me and tell me you are praying with me. You can do that through a comment on the blog or through e-mail. I think it's really encouraging when people see and hear other people praying with them about the same things. So, I don't care who you are or if you know me, just put a comment saying, "Hey, my name is Joe and I'm praying with you." I'll update you over the next few days as to how this goes.
Secondly, share your story with us. Once again, you can do it through comment or e-mail. But once God starts to answer our prayers for new power and new stuff happening in our lives and in our churches, I think we have to share it as encouragement for others. So, once again, let me hear it, so I can share it with others. I'm not talking about little stuff here. I'm glad your cat no longer has cancer and that your Uncle Joe has given up smoking. But I want to hear about how lives are changed and how churches are turned upside down by the power of Christ. Sound good? It excites me. I've got to get off of here so I can starting prayer for the Church (that's capital "U" as in the universal church all over the world) and for my church. I believe God's ready to start shaking. He's just been waiting for us to ask.