As we talk about praying, the things we can do to make it genuine, I would really like to stand up here and wrap a pretty bow around it and say, “Here you go. This is how we pray. This is what we do and its going to be fun.” As much as I would like to do that, I can’t necessarily wrap it into a pretty package for you. Prayer is a really unique thing. It is personal and intimate and a way we can communicate with our Heavenly Father. How you pray and how comfortable you feel praying has a lot to do with past experiences and also where you are at presently. To give a few examples:
- Maybe genuine prayer was a part of your upbringing and you have continued on in that legacy.
- Maybe prayer is something you have always received in the form of a blessing or words from a pastor.
- Maybe you have yet to embrace God’s “open door” communication policy.
- Maybe you have never prayed out loud.
We all come from different backgrounds and predispositions, BUT nevertheless, let us pray because prayer is for you right now. It’s for you right now where life has you…no matter what your life used to be or what you would like it to become, you can pray in the now and that is a beautiful thing.
On Tuesdays, we get to pray with a small group of women. So, why is prayer one of the values here at Equip Her? There are a couple reasons. The big reason is that group prayer is Biblical. There are a ton of examples in the Bible of both individual and group prayer. These examples come in the form of stories and testimonies to the power of prayer. From these examples we can see that God values group prayer. I wanted to share one of these examples with you this morning. It is an example of the power of group prayer in the early church. It is the story of Peter’s arrest and deliverance. Here is Acts 12:1-19:
Now about that time [a]Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. 2 And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. 3 When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now [b]it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four [c]squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. 5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
6 On [d]the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and[e]put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he *said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 When Peter came [f]to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all[g]that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12 And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” 16 But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, “Report these things to [h]James and the brethren.” Then he left and went to another place.
18 Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to [i]what could have become of Peter. 19 When Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time there.
That is an action scene. I think it could be in a major motion picture of the movies today! It’s just an incredible story. I love the peoples’ reaction to everything going on. They were all shocked and amazed. The critical verses that stuck out to me were verses 5 and 12 that make mention of group prayer. So obviously group prayer is a biblical thing.
Another reason why we value prayer here on Tuesday mornings is because it is a blessing. We may not be praying for someone’s freedom from prison, but we can realize the blessing that comes from praying with other Christians. People of the church were praying for Peter’s deliverance all along the way. My favorite moment in the passage is when Peter sees that people are praying for him and then also when the people praying realize that God had answered their prayers. Let me read that part again:
12 And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” 16 But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.
I love Rhoda. Bless her heart. I would do the same thing! She was so overjoyed that she left Peter standing at the gate rather than welcoming him into Mary’s house. It is a special moment when everyone was amazed. They realized God was at work in their lives. The same is available for us here at Equip Her. By praying in a small group, you get the privilege of participating in what God is doing in lives of the women sitting next to you. It is a glimpse of His handiwork. It is a way for us to see God.
We all met in our prayer groups for the first time last week. I want to express thanks to the teachers because they thoughtfully determined who will be in a group together. God’s hand is over that process. For the first few weeks we are all just getting to know each other. I know it can be a little intimidating…maybe a little awkward at times. I want to encourage you to lean into that potential awkwardness. Come as you are. Take the time to get to know the people in your group. Learn from them. Our prayer groups are safe, confidential places. It is a time for you to talk through what God is teaching you through your class. It is also a time to pray these truths for your life and others in the group.
We have a couple of resources to equip us to pray. These are also resources you can use throughout the week. The first resource is A Legacy of Prayer journal. We would like to give prayer journals to those women new to Equip Her. You will get those in your classrooms. It is a great resource for learning more about how we value prayer with in the Equip Her ministry. It is also filled with Scripture verses that encourage us to realize who God is and our need for Him. The second resource is our monthly prayer verse. This is something we started last year that we are going to continue. Each month we will have a verse for you to direct your focus and prayers. There are 2 formats to engage with the monthly prayer verse.
- Prayer verse cards that we will hand out here on Tuesday mornings.
- Paperless option
The idea is to get this verse in close proximity so that you can be reminded of God’s Truth often. It is just another tool that you can use to communicate with God. You can pray this verse back to God or use it to encourage someone else. There is no wrong method here.
All of the prayer verses this year are inspired by the Armor of God study so many of us have taken and enjoyed. The October verse correlates with the belt of Truth. By the end of the class year (April) we will have put on the full armor of God! I would like to give a special thank you to Piper Romshek. She is the one who hand-lettered our verse cards in such a beautiful way. Let’s close in prayer.
Thank you for this time and space today to think through our prayer walk with You. What an amazing gift You have given us…this ability to speak with You and connect with You in a profound and meaningful way. I pray that we would embrace this on a daily basis. Thank you also for the gift of corporate prayer. You reminded us in Acts 12 this morning that big things can happen when a group of Christians fervently pray. May we keep Peter’s testimony in mind as we pray in confidence with the women in our small groups. We love You, Lord. In Jesus Name we pray.