The Thermostat of Prayer
Acts 1:24 (ESV) … “And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
Prayer plays a significant role in the story of the church as recorded in the Book of Acts. The believers prayed for guidance in making decisions (Acts 1:15–26) and for courage to witness for Christ (Acts 4:23–31). In fact, prayer was a normal part of their daily ministry (Acts 2:42–47; 3:1; 6:4). Stephen prayed as he was being stoned (Acts 7:55–60). Peter and John prayed for the Samaritans (Acts 8:14–17), and Saul of Tarsus prayed after his conversion (Acts 9:11). Peter prayed before he raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36–43). Cornelius prayed that God would show him how to be saved (Acts 10:1–4), and Peter was on the housetop praying when God told him how to be the answer to Cornelius’ prayers (Acts 10:9).
The believers in John Mark’s house prayed for Peter when he was in prison, and the Lord delivered him both from prison and from death (Acts 12:1–11). The church at Antioch fasted and prayed before sending out Barnabas and Paul (Acts 13:1–3; and note 14:23). It was at a prayer meeting in Philippi that God opened Lydia’s heart (Acts 16:13), and another prayer meeting in Philippi opened the prison doors (Acts 16:25ff). Paul prayed for his friends before leaving them (Acts 20:36; 21:5). In the midst of a storm, he prayed for God’s blessing (Acts 27:35), and after a storm, he prayed that God would heal a sick man (Acts 28:8). In almost every chapter in Acts you find a reference to prayer, and the book makes it very clear that something happens when God’s people pray.
This is certainly a good lesson for the church today. Prayer is both the thermometer and the thermostat of the local church; for the “spiritual temperature” either goes up or down, depending on how God’s people pray. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, said, “Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.” In the Book of Acts, you see prayer accomplishing all of these things.