III. EXAMPLES OF PRAYER IN ACTS
In Acts chapters 1 and 2 we see that 120 disciples were praying. Before receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples were fighting one another for a position in the kingdom while on the way to Jerusalem before the Lord’s crucifixion. After they received the Holy Spirit essentially in John 20 and the instruction from the Lord to stay in Jerusalem to wait for the power from on high—the clothing of the Spirit economically for God’s work—they prayed for ten days. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down upon them. The church was formed and the gospel went out; 3,000 people were baptized. By prayer, they loosed the Spirit from heaven and loosed 3,000 souls on earth into God’s kingdom. Praise the Lord for prayer. These saints continued in prayer daily.
In Acts chapters 3 and 4 we see that Peter and John were going to pray. On the way, they preached the gospel, and 5,000 were saved. They prayed again with the church after they were threatened by the Jews, and were told not to preach by the name of Jesus. Their prayer caused an earthquake; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
In Acts chapter 12 Peter was arrested for the sake of the gospel. The church prayed fervently concerning him. The Lord answered the prayer of the church and released him.
In Acts chapter 13, while the leading ones of the church in Antioch were praying, the Spirit set apart Barnabas and Saul to be apostles to raise up churches. The rest of the leading ones prayed for them and sent them out. You can see that prayer activates the Spirit to send us out to do His work.
In Acts chapter 20 there was a meeting by the sea at Miletus. After Paul had fellowship with the elders from the church in Ephesus, they prayed by the ship Paul was to take. You can see that the church in the early days always prayed to bind and to loose. They did not care for the approval of other people; they only cared for the Lord’s desire.
IV. TWO TYPES OF PRAYER
There are mainly two types of prayer—prayer to have fellowship with God and prayer for God’s work. Prayer to have fellowship with God is for us to contact God and to be filled with God. In this type of prayer we confess and repent of the things He enlightens. Prayer for God’s work is to pray according to His heart’s desire so that He may accomplish His work.
A. Prayer to have Fellowship with God
[The significance of the first aspect of prayer is that we use our spirit to contact God, and to absorb God, and to have our entire being brought back to our spirit to have fellowship with Him. When we contact God, absorb God, and have fellowship with God in this way, God has the opportunity to reveal Himself in us and to infuse Himself into us. As God flows Himself into us in this way, our mind, emotion, and will are gradually mingled with God. As a result, God can open His heart’s desire to us, causing us to apprehend His purpose. At the same time, as He is operating and moving within us, He will oftentimes point out our weaknesses, our mistakes, our hindrances, and our difficulties, and then remove them. Therefore, the significance of the first aspect of prayer is to contact God, to touch God, and to let God have the opportunity to mingle with us and to eliminate all our difficulties. Therefore, whenever we come before God to pray, we must look upon this as the first priority. That is to say, whenever we come before the Lord to pray, we should not first petition Him for any other matters. We should rather first turn our entire being back to our spirit and lay our whole being in the light of the Lord’s face, waiting for His operating and moving, enlightening, revealing, anointing, infusing, mingling, filling, and saturating. We should also let Him expose our weaknesses, mistakes, hindrances, and difficulties. If we are willing to confess thoroughly and to allow the Lord to remove all these difficulties, our conscience will be at peace, without any accusation. Our spirit would thus be full of the presence of God. At this point, we can then mention to the Lord the things we want to pray for.]
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)