The Gathering

"Many were gathered together and were praying." Acts 12:12

The one consistent response of the early church was the immediate connection between a crisis and a prayer meeting. When they were faced by a dangerous opportunity and importunity, they leaned towards the latter, in order to face the former. In other words, they prayed.

When Jesus faced The Cross, He prayed. When the disciples faced The Commission, they prayed. When the church faced The Persecution, they prayed. Can you see a pattern here?

Talking your way through a crisis only prolongs the crisis and postpones the victory. Praying through a crisis, releases it into God's powerful hands. Talking about it keeps it tightly gripped, in your helpless hands. HMMMM. What to do? PRAY!

In most churches, the easiest way to fill a room is to declare a crisis. The hardest way to fill a room is to call for a prayer meeting. This says more about the state of the church, than any four color brochure, and state of the art web-site can cover up.

Few people would be drawn to invest their lives in a church that emblazoned across its entrance, "The end of your search for a powerless church." Yet, the message is clear, just the same. No prayer. No power. No power. No purpose.

The purpose of God is to conform His children to the likeness of His Son. Crisis is one of The Father's time-tested, and well-proven methods to bring His children to the end of themselves, and to develop His Son's character in them.

Prayer releases the pain of a fearful heart, and fills it with the gain of a joyful heart. Joy is not the absence of pain, and fear, but the over-riding confidence that rises above both. The prayerful are transformed, from the fearful into the joyful.

When Peter knocked on the gate, after being guided out of prison, by the angel of the Lord, he was met by Rhoda. Every church worth their salt has a greeter at the front door. Rhoda could have used a little more training.

"When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate." v. 14

See what I mean. "Because of her joy" transformed a despairing prayer warrior into a public announcer. Some people stay in the prayer closet so long, they forget to look up and see what God has done in response to their prayers. Rhoda may have mishandled Peter, but she didn't miss God. Forget about that training. She was spot on!

"They said to her, 'You are out of your mind!' But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, "It is his angel.' But Peter continued knocking and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed." v.16

Praying and amazing go hand in hand. Prayer is not the air of despair, but the air of desperation. Despair is a result of talking a crisis into a death-defying force of intimidation. It is impossible to talk a crisis to death. Talk keeps breathing new life into it.

Prayer doesn't drive a stake in the heart, of a life-sucking crisis. Prayer shoves the Word of God, down its throat. When faced with your next crisis, the first words out of your mouth should be, "Say AH!"

When faced by an intimidating crisis, pray. You will be amazed at what God will do when you insert The Word, into the throat of a liar. It stops the lies from overwhelming you, and released The Truth in you. Answered prayer is always an amazing experience.

"You are out of your mind!" What a great response to answered prayer. Prayer should be so outrageous that it should sound like crazy talk to those who don't believe God intervenes in the affairs of men. Don't pray at the level of a cynic's expectation. Pray at the level of your desperation. The desperate are not in despair. They are sucking in air, and breathing out prayer. Big difference.

Most people pray for the sun to come up, but would rather sit in the dark. The prayer warrior prays for the sun to come up and puts on sunscreen. Pray expectantly. If you have breath in your lungs, you have hope, and the capacity to see what God can do with a praying preacher and a praying church. That's not just crazy talk. You will be surprised by joy, and amazed by God. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!