Acts on Prayer — No Shortcuts!

Acts 8:18-19
(18) And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
(19) Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

Simon didn’t get it. And while we’re quick to condemn him for his foolish act, we’re more like him than we are not. What was Simon’s issue? He failed to understand God’s method and tried to short circuit God’s process.

God’s method is prayer. It has always been prayer. It started that way in the Garden when God fellowshipped with Adam. It was like that for men like Abraham and it continued that way throughout the entire Old Testament. When Christ created the New Covenant in His blood, prayer was still at the heart of it (John 14:16; 16:26-28). Prayer is a constant in the life of the believer.

Simon didn’t get that. Neither do we. Like Simon we treat God’s Holy Spirit power like it’s an app we can buy at the Google Play Store. We’ll read books, go to seminars, apply formulas, but we won’t pray. Why? Because that sounds too much like work. It also means making myself completely open (read vulnerable) to God. Prayer – real Jacob-style, wrestling-with-God-till-the-blessings-come kind of prayer – is a glaring lack in my life that the Lord has been heavily convicting me about.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me some of the biggest and most life-changing blessings I have ever known have come as a result of crisis and fervent, heart-felt prayer. It’s how God works. He wants us to talk to Him, worship Him. When we do, He is more than happy to give grace for grace (John 1:16).

To seek God’s blessing in any other way, borders on blasphemy:

Acts 8:21-23

(21)  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

(22)  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

(23)  For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

What is sad about this exchange between Simon and Peter is the fact that it still doesn’t sound like Simon really understood. Peter told him to pray, and Simon – still apparently thinking that Peter’s power was a thing to be had, rather than the outgrowth of a relationship with God – replies: “Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me” (Acts 8:24).

There is no record of Peter praying for Simon.

The only cure there is for my lack of prayer is me praying to God myself. There are no shortcuts to that kind of fellowship.