Joined Together In Prayer

Series: A Constant Sense


Pt.#1 – A Constant Sense

Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / June 14, 2015

  Last Sunday’s Friends & Family Day was a really good thing - - worship…fellowship…luncheon…attendance.

Thanks to all who helped in special ways:  set-up…clean-up…kitchen work, etc.

We had lots of visitors (total of 119) - - many of you invited others and quite a few attended,

Seeds have been planted.  Watering and nurturing will be taking place for many days, weeks & months to come.

In due time we shall reap (Gal.6:9).  Our God will give the increase (1Cor.3:6-7).

Many others invited others but those invited did not attend. 

Don’t be discouraged.  We must not become weary in well-doing.

I think this date (the first Sunday in June) may be an ideal time to make this an annual event.

During the months of June, July & August, most of our Sunday morning sermons will focus on the subject of PRAYER.

This evening we will assemble again at 6:30 for a prayer meeting.

Many of you have expressed a desire for an “old-fashioned prayer meeting”.

I’m not exactly sure just what that looks like.

Over the years our “prayer meetings” have evolved and have become more singing & study than actual praying.

It is good to sing, and it is good to study, but it is also a really good thing to pray.

In actuality, a good bit of our singing is praying (words that others have written and put to music).

And Bible study is essential in order to better grasp the will of God and the heart of God.

But, as John Wesley has written, “PRAYER is where the action is”.

E.M. Bounds’ words it this way:  “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.”

I hope that many of you will return this evening.

For all who planning to be here - - young & old, men and women - - your assignment this afternoon is to write a prayer.

It need not be lengthy.  It need no be eloquent.  It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct (it’s not going to be graded).

It doesn’t even have to be your own words - - you can borrow from others, but it must have your “Amen” (so be it).

It doesn’t have to be shared, but it can be if you so desire.

We will all gather together (men, women and children) for some songs and prayers.

At some juncture, we will divide up - - the men & boys in one location and the women & girls in another.

Not next Sunday, but the one following (6/28) - - I want us to look at prayer in the life of the early church.

To do this in a comprehensive way, we would have to examine all of the New Testament writings.

But, for that Sunday, I want us to focus on the book of Acts, which is an abbreviated history of life in the early church.

I have titled this new sermon series, A Constant Sense.

I have borrowed this phrase from the song, “Be With Me Lord” (song #778).

Please sing with me the third verse:

Be with me, Lord!  No other gift or blessing  Thou couldst bestow could with this one compare - -

A CONSTANT SENSE of Thy abiding presence,  Wher-e’er I am, to feel that Thou art near.

I want to preface this entire series will a confession of sorts.

I think we need a revival in this regard - - and that revival needs to take place among all of us.

There is an anonymous quote that says:  If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.

If we could adapt that quote, in order to be more Biblically precise it would read as follows:

If the church wants better shepherds, better elders, it only needs to pray for the ones it has.

That same quote can apply to your preacher.  John Owen once said:

“a minister may fill his pews, but what a minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more”.

So, this revival which I am urging, needs to start at the top, so to speak.

I will confess for myself (and I think I can say the same for our elders):

I need to be / we need to be more courageous & constant, more diligent, devoted & determined in our prayer life.

But, in order to be a genuine revival it must permeate the whole.

Mark Jones, in an essay titled, “The Death Of Prayer Meetings”, has reworded John Owen’s quote as follows:

A church may be filled, but what that church is on their knees together before God, that they are and no more.

Charles Spurgeon is noted for having said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

I think, over the years, I have been somewhat faithful (and productive) in doing this.

Many of our men, who never imagined themselves leading public prayers (or even in a small group), are now doing so.

Yet, I know in my heart of hearts, that over the last four decades, I could have been stronger on this.

Charles Spurgeon was a famous preacher who was born in 1834 and died in 1892 (at the age of 58).

His conversion to Christ took place in 1850 (at the age of c. 16).

His study of the Scriptures led him to the conviction that he should be immersed.

For the next four years, while in school, he could be found preaching the gospel in chapels, cottages and open-air settings.

At the age of 20, he began preaching in London and remained at the same church for 38 years.

It was first known at New Park Street Chapel and later known at Metropolitan Tabernacle.

This place of worship was located at the corner of Elephant & Castle and seated 6,000 plus.

Spurgeon was a prolific writer.

Every Sunday his sermons (two hours long) would be transcribed by a stenographer.

On Monday mornings he’ do a little editing and then forward them on to be printed and sold to the public for 1 penny.

  If someone inquired whether Spurgeon was a Baptist, he would simply point to be baptistry.

His church actually split ways with the Baptist church and became autonomous.

  In many ways, he was a free-thinker and a man with a “restorationist” mindset.

I feel confident that Spurgeon was aware of the work & writings of men like Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone,

James O’Kelly, Rice Haggard, Elias Smith, Abner Jones, etal., whose teachings impacted the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

When asked what creed he espoused, his response was, “My creed is Jesus Christ”.

  He helped found an organization to distribute Bibles.

He established Stockwell orphanage, which provided a safe shelter & upbringing for 500 children.

  He was a dynamic expositor of Scripture - - often spoken of a ‘the prince of preachers’.

Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach.

While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked,

“Gentlemen, let me show you around.  Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?”

They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July, but they didn’t want to offend the stranger so they consented.  They were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered,

This is our heating plant”.  Surprised, the student saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the

service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above.  Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself.

It was none other that Charles Spurgeon.

One more thing, by way of introduction.

There is much about prayer that remains a mystery for us.

How prayer works and why it works is something we often struggle to fully understand.

I want to invite you to submit your questions about prayer and we’ll attempt to discuss these on Sunday PMs in August.

C.S. Lewis (1889-1963), in his book God In The Dock, once asked the question,


The case against prayer…is this: 

the thing you ask for is either good - - for you and for the world in general - - or else it is not.

If it is, then a good and wise God will do it anyway.  If it is not, then He won’t.

In neither case can your prayer make any difference.

But if this argument is sound, surely it is an argument not only against praying, but against doing anything whatsoever?

Cf. Mt.6:8 / “Your Father knows before you ask Him.”

Lewis goes on to answer this argument by reasoning that God has instituted prayer

in order to allow His creatures “the dignity of causality”.

It is comparable to saying that God has written a script (a play in which the basic story is fixed),

but various minor details are left for the actors to improvise.

In other words, God has embedded in His master plan for humanity

a certain amount of free play that can be modified in response to our prayers.

Whatever questions we may have about the role and power of prayer,

we cannot deny that the early Christians were taught to pray and that they prayed.

And, furthermore, that their prayers were heard by God, and quite often heeded by God.

Here is how the book of Acts begins (we’ll explore Acts in more detail in two weeks - - on 6/28).

In the aftermath of the Lord’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, Acts 1:12-14 states:

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, that is,

Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Batholomew and Matthew,

James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the zealot, and Judas the son of James.

These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer,

Along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Acts 2:42 follows immediately after Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost and the baptism of 3,000 souls.

It states 4 “they (the disciples) were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching,

and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to PRAYER.

Dear Father,

Grant us minds that are reminded daily that You are to us a loving Father, who cares for us deeply.

Grant that our eyes might be focused upon Jesus - - our Savior, who Himself prayed often.

Grant that the impulse of our hearts may be to seek Your ways each and every day.

Grant us a constant sense of Thy abiding presence - - a keen awareness that You are always near.

Grant us the will to be Christians who are continually and constantly devoted in prayer.

Through Christ, our Savior, our example, and our advocate, we pray.  Amen.

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