“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry how you are to speak, for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the spirit of your father speaking through you. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the son of man comes” (Matthew 10: 16 – 20, 23).
This passage records Jesus’ warning to his followers about the harsh realities the church would face after his departure. Indeed the church was born and nurtured in a hostile environment. Opposition and persecution greeted the early church, first from the Jews, then the emperors and thirdly, from pretenders and false teachers who invaded the church. Thanks be to God because Jesus had forewarned them that He was sending them like sheep among wolves. Virtually all the forces and authorities at the time were against them, the only weapon they had was prayer. Instances abound in the Bible where prayer worked miracles and brought relief/deliverance to the early disciples.
In Jerusalem, Peter and John had healed a man, preached and won 5000 souls. The overzealous and jealous religious leaders arrested and warned them never to preach or do anything in the name of Jesus, but they prayed for boldness and they were not intimidated, the church continued to march forward, waxing stronger by the day (see Acts 4: 1- 31).
When the sect of the Sadducees “being filled with jealousy” arrested the apostles. The church prayed and God sent an angel, who opened the prison door and ordered them to go, stand and preach in the temple (see Acts 5: 17ff).
In Philippi, when the owners of the girl with spirit of divination saw that Paul and Silas had delivered the girl, thereby stopping their demonic source of income, they incited the people and authorities against Paul and Silas and they were put in jail, it was their praise and prayer that shook the foundation of the prison building, broke their chains and set them free, and through the spirit of God working in them the jailer was converted. (See Acts 16: 16 – 36).
Herod had killed James and imprisoned Peter, while Peter was in prison the church prayed fervently to God for him, the angel of the Lord was sent to bring him out of prison (See also Acts 12: 1- 19).
Through prayer, the early church overcame their individual challenges and the mindless persecution against the church. Their prayer turned pegan Rome where Christianity was declared “Religio illicita” (illegal religion) to “Religio Licita” (the only legal and official religion of the empire).
We can overcome every challenge confronting us as individuals, as a church and as a nation through fervent prayers. We must bear in mind always that:-
- a praying church is a visionary church (Acts 16: 9 – 10; Acts 22: 17 & 18).
- a praying church is a missionary church (Acts 6: 6 – 7).
- a praying church is an evangelical church (Acts 13: 3).
- a praying church is a victorious church (Acts 5: 35 – 39).
Jesus told many parables about the need to pray always and not to loose heart – the wicked judge and the widow (Luke 18: 2 – 8) the friend at midnight (Luke 11: 5 – 13) etc.
The early disciples realized the importance of prayer that they asked their master to teach them how to pray and He taught them the Lord’s Prayer which has become our model prayer. (Luke 11: 1 – 4).
Beloved let us as a church resolve to pray fervently, individually and corporately, knowing fully well that prayer is the key to Godly success and peace.
Have a prayerful, successful and peaceful week.
Your brother, friend & Pastor