The church still faces Goliaths. World hunger. Clergy scandal. Stingy Christians. Corrupt officials. The pea-brained hard-hearted dictators. Peter in prison is just the first of a long list of challenges to big for the church.
So our Jerusalem ancestors left us a strategy. When the problem is bigger than we are – we pray! But while Peter was imprisoned, the church prayed very earnestly for him Acts 12:5.
Why did it work for Peter?
Why did it work for the members of this church?
These worshippers sat in a home,
not a special place (church, temple, synagogue),
or with an ordained priest,
but with each other under the tutelage of their own creator.
In a humble domain with beds,
a fireplace used for warmth and cooking,
and God brought them Peter.
They didn’t picket the prison, petition the government, protest the arrest; call for a lawyer or prepare for Peter’s funeral. They prayed. They prayed as if prayer was their only hope, for indeed it was. They prayed very earnestly for him.
Today we hear of fewer answers by prayerful guidance and more from resourcing to the local media using humiliation, intimidation, and foreboding threats of public annihilation.
Does using these tactics get us what we want?
Well, yes, most of the time we “win”
but at what cost?
Do we lower ourselves to be less than what God wanted when we act in a manner that may be just as despicable as those we are going after?
Does the means justify the method?
In the end do we really win?
Prayer heals outside and within
Who is Nicky Cruz?
Nicky Cruz was a boy who started off as all children – innocent. A boy who many would say never had a chance. The wrong path was paved with Hershey Kisses and Coca Cola.
But then it happened. A golden light shone upon Nicky Cruz, and it is at this intersection that Pastor Bill shares his personal story…
When I was working with the Nicky Cruz outreach and Huntington West Virginia, we were involved in their rehabilitation program. They had a program for therapy which included three one-hour sessions of prayer a day. Patients were not required to pray but they were required to attend prayer meeting. Dozens of recovering drug addict spent 60 uninterrupted minutes on their knees each day. Do you know what their success rate has been over the years; 98%. Better than any methadone clinic.
I was invited to come and pray with Nicky Cruz and I expressed amazement and confess that my prayers were short informal. I was introduced to Nicky the director and founder. With me was Pete Shultis a friend who was living with us at the time and a graduate from Asbury Theological Seminary. The next day Peter and I showed up at Nicky’s office. We knelt on the concrete floor of a small building and began to talk to God. Change that I talked; Nicky cried and wailed begged cajoled and pleaded; he pounded his fist on the floor, shook his fist towards heaven, confessed and re-confessed every sin. He recited every promise in the Bible as if God needed a reminder.
He prayed like Moses.
When God determined to destroy the Israelites for their Golden calf stunt, Moses begged the Lord His God and Said, Lord don’t Let Your Anger Destroy Your People, Whom You Brought out of Egypt with Your Great Power and Strength. Don’t Let the People of Egypt Say, the Lord Brought the Israelites out of Egypt for an Evil Purpose…. Remember the Men Who Served You, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You promised with an oath to them Exodus 32:11 – 13.
Moses on Mount Sinai is not calm and quiet, with folded hands and the serene expression. He’s on his face 1 min., in God’s the next. He’s on his knees, pointing the finger, lifting his hands. Shedding tears. Shredding his cloak. Wrestling like Jacob at Jabbok but for the lives of his people.
And God heard him! So the Lord changed his mind and did not destroy the people as He had said He might Exodus 34:14.
Our passionate prayers move the heart of God. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much James 5:16. Prayer does not change God’s nature; who He is will never be altered. Prayer does, however, impact the flow of history. God has wired his world for power, but He calls on us to flip the switch.
For more on Nicky Cruz please visit these links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicky_Cruz; http://across.co.nz/NickyCruz05.html; http://across.co.nz/NickyCruzbio.html; http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=DP&p_theme=dp&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EAF449FCA1B880C&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM