Please read Acts 2:42-47.
Thesis = The Church must devote herself to worship.
The BREAKING OF BREAD = the Love Feast.
The First Church’s practice of the Love Feast (eucharisto). Was a meal and worship service rolled into one. They met daily, at the end of the day, to share a meal and the Lord’s Supper. Outside Jerusalem, most worship services were held in a member’s home.
As they did with their other possessions, the disciples shared their food – a daily potluck! These services were informal because formal liturgies were still centuries away.
The Love Feast became one of the First Church’s outreach programs. After all, it’s easier –then as now – to invite someone over for dinner than church.
It was also a service program – slaves, widows, and the poor were invited – perhaps their only meal of the day. The Love Feast met physical, social, and spiritual needs all at once.
• Physical = hungry people need to be fed so they can attend the Gospel message.
• Social = there is no substitute for time and no better time to build relationships than mealtime! Today this is absent in homes.
• Spiritual = worship and instruction in the Apostles’ teaching accompanied these meals. Spiritual food served with physical food.
It was a big success, as verse 46 attests – THEY ATE TOGETHER WITH GLAD AND SINCERE HEARTS. And, more importantly, verse 47 says, THE LORD ADDED TO THEIR NUMBER DAILY THOSE WHO WERE BEING SAVED.
As we see repeated throughout Acts, the great sacrifices the believers made were connected to great blessings from the Lord. They were devoted to three components of worship; the teaching of the Apostles, the Lord’s Supper, and also to prayer.
Devotion to Prayer.
Follow my reasoning here. Prayer is a major part of the First Church’s ministry. So, in order to have much to say on the subject of prayer, I needed to look beyond the borders of our passage. Thinking about the Apostle’s teaching, I reasoned that they primarily passed on what they knew about the teaching and actions of Jesus. So it seemed natural to assume that the teaching the First Church had about prayer was what is recorded in the Gospels. Finally, that lead me to ask, “In Jesus’ teaching, what are the conditions to powerful prayer?” My search to answer that question lead me to three separate Gospel passages where we learn three things.
First, we learn that faith is a major component of powerful prayer. (Please read Matthew 21:21-22.) The occasion is Jesus having withered the fig tree. His disciples were amazed. He assured them faith makes all things possible.
Faith is a conviction that what God says He will do. In spite of the way things may look otherwise, we can trust in Him.
The real power source for prayer is God, not us. It’s not positive thinking, self-hypnosis, or anything else that is based on us.
Read James 5:15; here we learn what’s most important about prayer. Prayer is not a matter of “when, where, how,” or “what.” When we pray is not important because the Bible doesn’t set times for prayer; we’re commanded to pray without ceasing. Where we pray is not essential because our connection to God not limited to any one building. Our choice of words, posture, and gesture are not essential items; in that sense it doesn’t matter how we format our prayers. And what we pray about isn’t essential in the sense that we don’t limit our prayers to the “big things.”
Prayer is more a matter of “who” and “why.” We are to pray to God the Father through God the Spirit, in the name of Jesus the Son. Prayers to anyone else are just thoughts that rattle around inside us. Our motive for praying is the secondary factor; pray in God’s will, not ours. Notice that the “why” takes care of the “what” factor. If we are praying in God’s will, we won’t be asking for vain, evil, or worldly things.
Our method of prayer is to converse with God, to speak to Him with genuine humility and complete honesty. We need to also listen for His voice. Prayer, like other forms of communication, is best when it is a dialogue, not a monologue.
A second condition to powerful prayer is that it will occur only in relationship with Jesus (read John 15:7+16). The key is to “remain” in Christ. This is maintaining our connection to Him. Our spiritual linkage is maintained by our obedience to His will, and with communication by prayer.
We remain in Christ when we keep praying; even when it doesn’t seem to be working. He is the origin of our faith, according to verse sixteen. There Jesus said, “YOU DIDN’T CHOOSE ME, I CHOSE YOU.” Our relationship with God began in His mind. He loved us first and most. God has already done 99.9% of the work of salvation; all that remains for us is to accept His gracious offer. Our work begins after salvation and it is the work of discipleship and sanctification.
The outcome of faith is also described in this passage; it is to bear fruit. God did not save us so we could be consumers. He saved us to be a producers.
In Jesus’ teaching, “fruit” is the outcome of your choices. It is the effect, where your attitude and actions are the cause. Being productive – bearing godly fruit – is a benchmark of true discipleship. The fruit that true disciples bear is Spiritual Maturity in one’s self and in others. We will be fruitful as we remain in God by prayer & obedience.
The third condition is that prayer must be offered only in Jesus’ name (see John 14:12-14). This requires that we pray in conformity with Jesus’ will. That our prayers are not sinful, but godly. Not selfish, but puts God first and others second. We ask God to supply our needs not our greeds (i.e., “daily bread”). Prayer must flow from our relationship with Christ, not from any worldly source.
It will be an expression of His character.
A simple test for appropriate prayer is to ask one’s self: “Is this something for which Jesus would pray?” I suspect most disciples do not have a problem with inappropriate prayer; that’s a problem for hypocrites. Instead, our problem is not praying frequently enough and not trusting everything to God in prayer.
Jesus said: “ASK ANYTHING IN MY NAME AND I WILL DO IT.” Those words are simple, but they…
… challenge us. Do we literally believe that His promise is true? Do we trust that when He said “anything” He meant it?
… comfort us. Jesus’ promise of powerful prayer means we can overcome every circumstance when we rely on Him.
… confirm our faith. We don’t have the experience of faith until we take a risk and try something only God can do.