The Power of Prayer
through the Word of God (23)
Ministering to the Lord In the Early Church
Let’s notice a few expressions concerning praise and worship in the word. I want you to notice a particular characteristic of the disciples and the Early Church: They were always praising and worshipping God.
50 And he [Jesus] led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they WORSHIPPED HIM, AND RETURNED TO Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were CONTINUALLY in the temple, PRAISING AND BLESSING GOD. Amen.
46 And they, CONTINUALLY DAILY with one accord in the temple, and braking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with GLADNESS and SINGLENESS OF HEART,
47 PRAISING GOD, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Notice the expression here,”…they, continuing DAILY with one accord …did eat their meat with gladness…PRAISING God…”(Acts 2:46,57).
This is what I want you to see. With these Christians, praising God wasn’t something they did once in a great while, or just from time to time. No, praise and worship was a way of life. I believe verse 47 records the results of the believers’ continual praise and worship:”…And the Lord added to the church DAILY such as should be saved.”
Too many times, what happens with us is about once every six months some believers get “prayed through,” and they have a high time praising and blessing God. If you were writing about people like that in Luke chapter 24 and Acts chapter 2, you’d have to say, “Occasionally they praised God.” And for some believers, you’d even have to say, “Semi-annually thy praised the Lord”! For others, you’d have to say, ”Annually they praised the Lord”!
But here in Luke chapter 24 and Acts chapter 2, they praised God continually. The prayer of praise and worship should be a continual thing with us today too. Then we’d see some of the same results the Early Church experienced!
There’s something admirable about Smith Wigglesworth that I have noticed in reading about him. he said this: “First thing every morning , when I get out of bed, I jump out of bed – I don’t just drag myself out – but I jump out. And when my feet hit the floor, I say, ‘Praise the Lord.’ And I praise God that way every morning.” That’s a good way to start the day, isn’t it?
Someone who knew Wigglesworth told me that he used to get out of bed and dance a jig every morning, praising God out loud. That would be a good way for all of us to start the day! Too many times we just drag out of bed. But we need to be so excited about God, that we daily jump out of bed praising him!
Again in Acts 2:46, we read, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple…” Notice the phrase “continuing daily.” They daily gathered together in the temple to praise God. Daily! also notice the phrase, “…with gladness and singleness of heart. Praising God…” (vv 46,47).
I believe one reason the disciples had such gladness of heart was that they daily praised the Lord! Read the Book of Acts and you’ll see how effective the disciples were in everything they did for the Lord. The reason the disciples were effective was that they had this continual gladness of heart because they were continually praising God.
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
In Acts 5:42, the word “they” is specifically referring to the apostles. Yet in the Early Church being effective in the body of Christ and the work of the ministry was not limited to the apostles.
For example, in Acts 2:46 and 47 which we just looked at, “they” did not talking about the apostles; it is talking about everyone who was a believer in that locality. It included the laity or the lay members – the whole church. Everyone in the church was continuing daily to meet in the temple and minister to the Lord.
Developing a habit of Praise and Worship
If we would just walk in the light of the word and continually be in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, we would be a witness to other people for the Lord. People would see our continual gladness of heart and would desire experience that joy and gladness for themselves.
This is just one area in which the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a help to us. Although a person can have joy and a thankful heart as a result of the new birth (Luke 24:49), the baptism of the Holy Spirit can help us in our praise and worship of God and enable us to be a powerful witness for the Lord.
P.C. Nelson was an example of how a person who makes a habit of praise and worship can be a witness to others. I heard Dad Nelson tell the story of how he had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost as a denominational pastor back in the early 1920s.
After Rev. Nelson had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, a friend of his (actually they were roommates in seminary together) wrote to him saying he had heard that Rev. Nelson had received the baptism of the Holy ghost and had spoken in other tongues. He wanted to know if there was any truth to it. Brother Nelson wrote back and told him that he had indeed received this Pentecostal experience.
P.C. Nelson’s friend wrote him again and invited him to come over and tell him about it and to preach in his church on a Sunday. This was years ago when folks travelled by train. Somehow Rev. Nelson and his travelling companions were delayed, and Rev. Nelson didn’t arrive early for the service. He didn’t get a chance to renew acquaintances with his school chum and roommate before meeting at church.
Actually, when Rev. Nelson finally arrived at the church, the service had already begun. As nelson stepped onto the platform, this pastor shook hands with him and they renewed their acquaintance. They sat down and about this time someone was to sing a special song. Rev. Nelsons didn’t think any thing about it , but before he knew what he was doing, he said out loud, “Praise the Lord!” When he did that, his pastor friend sort of jumped and then just looked at him. Rev. Nelson became a little self-conscious but he soon forgot it.
After a little while the woman began singing the second verse. Rev. Nelson heard something that he liked and without thinking he said out loud, spontaneously from his heart, “Well, Hallelujah!” That pastor jumped again and just looked at Rev. Nelson. Only then did Rev. Nelson become conscious of what he was doing because praise was such a habit with him. Nelson began to listen to the song again and without thinking, he said, “Glory to God.” And the pastor sort of jumped again.
Then the pastor introduced Rev. Nelson to the congregation and explained that they had been roommates together in seminary. He said he appreciated Rev. Nelson and his ministry and without thinking, Brother Nelson said, “Glory to God.” That poor pastor jumped and nearly lost his introduction!
But Rev. Nelson didn’t think anything about it; those praises to God were automatic with him! He had simply gotten to thinking about the goodness of god and what He had done for him and was glad about it. he had this same gladness of heart that the disciples in the Book of Acts had!
When Rev. Nelson and his pastor friend into the night service, once in a while as he was just sitting on the platform, Rev. nelson would say, “Praise the Lord.” Every time he did this, that pastor would sort of jump and look at him. Rev. Nelson just had gladness of heart and it got the attention of this pastor.
Finally, this pastor said to him, “Nelson, I believe this is just a habit with you.”
Rev. nelson said, “What do you mean?” He didn’t even know what hid friend was talking about.
“Well,” his friend said, “every now and then you’ll just say, ‘Praise the Lord’ right out loud, or you’ll say, ‘hallelujah’ or ‘Glory to God’ or ‘Thank You, Jesus.’ I believe that has just gotten to be a habit with you.”
Rev. Nelson answered, “Well, it’s a habit I never had before I was filled with the Holy Spirit!” Praise is a good habit to have!
Incidentally, as a result of Rev. nelson’s witness of continual joy and praise, this pastor was also filled with the Holy Ghost! Brother Nelson had made an impression on him because of the spirit of gladness and spirit of praise. Pastoring a church without it would be very discouraging. But thank God for this spirit of gladness! The Holy Ghost will help you t be a witness, too, as you minister to the Lord in praise and worship.
The Early Church also had that habit of continually praising and worshipping God. The Bible says in Luke 24:53 that the disciples were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. They continued to praise God daily, with gladness of heart (Acts 2: 46,47).And Acts 5:42 says they also continued daily to preach the gospel: “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ”
And Acts 16:25 says, “…at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
God’s Power Is Manifested When His People Praise Him
There is a counterpart passage of Scripture to these verses, which is found in the Old Testament. In Second chronicles chapter 20, King Jehoshaphat and Judah went out against the enemy, the armies of the Ammonites, Moabites, and the people of Mount Seir. These enemies of Judah had banded together against Judah. From the natural standpoint, Jehoshaphat didn’t have enough men or an army big or strong enough to withstand these enemy forces.
Jehoshaphat called a prayer meeting. The children of Israel fasted and prayed. Usually in the Old Testament the Spirit of God would move upon certain ones, the prophets, for example, to bring a message to His people. The Spirit of God moved upon a young man in the congregation, Jahaziel, and he stood up and prophesied.
2 CHRONICLES 20:15,17.
15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s….
17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.
The Lord told the people not to have any fear, but to go out against the enemy, for the battle was the Lord’s. So the following morning the Israelites went out against the enemy and the bible says they put the praisers up front (2 Chron.20:21).
Just Lord told the people not to have any fear, but to go out against three enemy armies that had banded together against the people of God. The enemies’ armies consisted of trained soldiers with swords, javelins, and spears. Yet Jehoshaphat sent the praisers out to meet them! The praisers were right up front, leading the parade, so to speak. Jehoshaphat didn’t have a man leading his army with a sword or shield or spear. He only had those who were singing and praising the Lord.
2 CHRONICLES 20:21
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.
Notice what the Israelites did. They sang and praised God. They ministered to the Lord and sang praises to God, just as Paul and Silas did. I want you to notice something here. The children of Israel said, ”…Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever “ (2 Chron. 20:21). Evidently, they just marched along singing, “Praise the Lord; for His mercy endures forever.”
What happened as a result of the Israelites’ singing praises to God? This is what happened as a result of the prayer of praise and worship.
2 CHRONICLES 20:22-25
22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
24 And when Judah came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
When the children of Israel began to sing and to praise God, God did something! That’s when God’s power was manifested and the enemy was defeated! I
I believe we need to have more praise services where we just take time to minister to the Lord. Folks need to come to church to praise God and to wait upon Him. We need to have services where we minister to the Lord – not just to one another. We don’t need to come together to talk about one another. no, we need to minister to the Lord and brag on Him! We need to sing praises to the Lord.
I believe we’d have some mighty manifestations of God’s Presence if we would do that. Christians need to learn the importance of different kinds of scriptural praying. And one very vital kind of scriptural prayer is the prayer of ministering unto the Lord – waiting upon the Lord in praise and worship.
Best Greetings to all of you, brothers in Christ, may God bless you much as you continue to walk, the walk of faith in Jesus' Name. Praise and Glory be to God.
for the PREVIOUS reading.
for the NEXT reading.