Acts on Prayer: Lessons from an Old Ford Wagon

I once owned a maroon Ford LTD Wagon. I’m pretty sure it was brand new once. It wasn’t when I bought it, though – for $300.00. It was beat up and worn. The back end sagged because the suspension was shot, and the tailgate had a barrel lock on it because it was designed to swing open like a door, and sometimes if you accelerated too fast, it would swing open and try to take a swat at other vehicles like an old lady with a purse.

But it had a pretty good engine. You just couldn’t tell by looking at the thing.

One day I was sitting at a red light. I had just completed a left turn and when you would signal left turns in this old LTD, the signal lever would sometimes come out in your hand. So, here I was at a red light, trying to put my signal lever back in place before the light turned green, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this kid in a fairly new Japanese import pull up alongside me. I could see him looking at me trying to reassemble my signal lever and then at my beat up old car, and I knew what he was thinking. He was going to leave me in his dust.

The light turned, and this kid hit the gas. So did I: him in his little four-cylinder and me with my 380-something engine, and an old-school carburetor. The kid had a little bit of an edge at first, but the next red light was good mile away. After that initial quarter mile, I finally had my signal lever back in my steering column and that kid in my rearview.

When he finally caught up to me at the next light, he was looking at me again, only his expression wasn’t quite the same. Let’s just say he wasn’t having devotional thoughts, but he also wasn’t thinking about drag racing me to the next light either. There was something inside my old car that was completely unexpected, and it left him wondering what in the world could it be?

Christians who pray also have something the world sees as completely unexpected, supernatural power that can only come from God. Remember Samson in the Old Testament? Everyone assumes he was some huge bodybuilding type. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just an average-looking guy, maybe even a runt. Why else would the Philistines be so infuriated when he pulled the stunts he did against them? “How is he doing that!” they probably said (but in more colorful words). “It’s not possible!”

But it is when God is empowering you. Acts 2 is a wonderful example of that. We’ll examine the sermon in this chapter some other time. What I want us to see is the results of the disciples’ prayer life.

Act 2:1 “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”

We know from the previous chapter that the phrase “all with one accord” means they were not just hanging around, they were together praying. They were doing that since the Lord sent them back to Jerusalem. And look what happened!

God’s Spirit filled the room. It filled the room and overflowed it until people in the street couldn’t help but notice what was going on! (Acts 2:2-5)

Act 2:6 “Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.”

The words Luke uses to describe what was happening are “confounded,” “amazed,” “marveled.” Everyone was seeing something wholly unexpected! Unlearned men were speaking in foreign languages so everyone there heard the gospel in their own tongue (2:7-11). Impossible!

Not with God.

Of course, some mocked and accused the disciples of being drunk. But Peter set the record straight. Not only did he set the record straight, he preached the first recorded sermon in the book of Acts. What does that have to do with prayer? Where do you think the power came from?

And consider the speaker. It’s Peter, the one who one minute said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) and who almost a minute later is hearing the Lord tell him: “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me” (Matthew 16:23). Ouch!

This is the same Peter to whom the Lord said: “…[T]hou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”  (Matthew 16:18). Now when the other disciples heard that, they probably looked at Peter and then the Lord, and thought: “Are we talking about the same guy? Some of us have worked with Peter, and he’s a nice guy, but a rock? A wave maybe, a tree blowing in the wind…but a rock? Lord, are you sure?”

Of course the Lord was sure, because here was something else he told Peter: “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). Jesus saw Peter for what he could be once he was fully yielded.

And now, here he is – this lowly fisherman that no one was expecting anything from – preaching a powerful and wonderfully articulate sermon to the people of Jerusalem, who were gathered there from all over for the day of Pentecost, a capacity crowd! And what happens? About 3,000 are added to the church in one day. Impossible!

Not with God.

Remember that commission in Acts 1:8? “…Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth….” Do you think there was any doubt in the disciples’ minds on how that was going to happen now?

And how did they get there? Prayer.

The Lord wants us to take on nothing less than the whole world. Are we ready to do the unexpected? Are we prayed up?

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