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Prayer Availeth Much
T. M. Anderson
A Manifestation Of God In Answer To Prayer
"...When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word
of God with boldness." Acts 4:31
This remarkable manifestation of God reveals the effectiveness of prevailing
prayer. It vividly discloses the fact that prayer can accomplish much. It is
apparent that neither the apostles, nor the assembled company of devout
believers were astonished at the marvelous visitation of God. They had assembled
together in one place for the express purpose of achieving victory over the
opposition of wicked men, and they fully expected the Lord to answer their
united prayers in His own way.
Perhaps the shaking of the place where they were assembled together was an
extraordinary occurrence, but receiving a direct answer to their importunate
praying was neither unusual nor unexpected. The believers had assembled for the
specific purpose of producing a miracle in the spiritual world, and not for the
purpose of producing a phenomenon in the natural world. We do not need a
manifestation of the supernatural to arrest the attention of a pleasure seeking
world. God does not often shake the shackles off His imprisoned saints, and open
the doors of the jail with an earthquake. He can do the unusual and the
unexpected when necessary. We do not need the Lord to do something to astonish
us, but we do need Him to do something to alert us to our dangers.
We cannot ignore the fact that we desperately need a startling manifestation
of God to shake us out of our spiritual lethargy and selfish complacency. We
cannot substitute a program for power and have the least semblance of hope that
the unsaved will be attracted by it.
The believers were praying in a desperate crisis when they said, "... Lord,
behold their threatenings ..." We are aware that some of the most enduring
results recorded in sacred history were obtained when some devout person prayed
in an hour of crisis. Abraham prevailed with God in prayer when the angelic
messengers told him about the destruction of Sodom. The holy Scriptures reveal
that Moses prayed importunately for the people when they incurred the fierce
anger of God by worshipping the golden calf. It was a critical time in Israel
when Elijah prayed earnestly on mount Carmel. Jesus was praying in an hour of
crisis when He said, "... Father, the hour is come ..." The believers were
confronted by a desperate situation when they said,". .. Lord, behold their
threatenings ..." With them, it was a case of life or death, victory or defeat.
The odds against them were tremendous, but the God that was for them was
There is nothing in the sacred records to show that they had the slightest
intention of compromising the truth in order to have favor with men. They did
not call a meeting of the official board to discuss ways and means of evading
the fundamental issues involved. They did not take refuge in a stupefying
pessimism saying that nothing could be done to remedy the situation confronting
them. Neither did they deceive themselves by saying that things would work out
satisfactorily to all parties concerned. They were willing to accept the
conflict that challenged their faith and hope in God. They did the most natural
thing in the sight of the Lord when they assembled together with one accord in
prayer, and lifted up their voice in one concerted petition to Him for help.
The believers in this day of grace should be impressed by the victory
achieved by this praying company of saints. There are many things which threaten
us today. We are confronted with serious situations that cannot be overcome
unless we keep our strength renewed through prevailing prayer.
It is written, "... They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake
the word of God with boldness." A gracious infilling with the Spirit of God is
the only solution for our spiritual difficulties in this age of the world. The
Lord's holy prophet said, "... When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the
Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Isa. 59:19. We cannot
hope to escape the flood of evil which threatens to overwhelm the believers
today unless we are constantly refilled and re-invigorated by the Holy Spirit.
When Paul said, "... Be filled with the Spirit," he was stressing the necessity
of continuing in the fullness of the Spirit in order to achieve the victory for
Christ in this world. This remarkable filling with the Spirit was evidently
different in some respects from the epochal filling received on the day of
Pentecost. This gracious enablement of the Spirit was obviously one of the times
of refreshing to be expected from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3: 19.)
Unless the believers in the church today have their spiritual strength
replenished repeatedly by the Spirit they will not be able to overcome the
increasing power of spiritual wickedness threatening them today. The church
cannot cope with the menacing threat of worldliness except the company of
believers pray for power to meet the insidious threat. The company of believers
cannot withstand the subversive teachings of modern Liberalism unless they pray
for strength to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
It will require much prayer to prevail against the creeping paralysis
resulting from meaningless programs and pointless plays promoted by the
worldly-minded leaders in the church. Unless the company of believers today are
girded with the power of the Holy Spirit they will not be able to cope with the
crisis confronting them in this day of formality and unbelief. God did not
answer their impassioned prayer in the hour of crisis by miraculously changing
the attitude of the determined opposition. He did not remove the threat which
endangered them, neither did He destroy the ring-leaders responsible for the
persecution of the church. It is interesting to note that the company of
believers did not ask the Lord to change the attitude of their enemies. They
accepted the fact that such persecution had been foreseen and foretold. ". ..
Thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine
vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered
together against the Lord, and against his Christ." Acts 4: 25. (Psalm
The Lord would have us understand that suffering persecution for His sake is
the price to be paid in blood and tears for the unspeakable pleasure of serving
Him in the holy way of life.
Our young people should be impressed with the fact that they cannot expect
the Lord to change the attitude of their unsaved friends and associates. When
once the young converts discover this truth they will not find it difficult to
overcome the hardships of life. Pastors find it difficult to get the young
people established in the faith because they apparently believe that God should
change their environment in answer to prayer. It is apparently difficult for
them to understand that a change in their surroundings is not the solution of
their spiritual problem. It is likewise true that a change in the moral
conditions which environ the church today is not the solution of its spiritual
The company of believers found the solution of their problem when they lifted
up their voice with one accord in prayer to God. The answer they received
enabled them to cope with the rising tide of spiritual wickedness in high
places. The Lord fortified them with a spiritual power that no combination of
evil forces could withstand successfully.
The embattled believers were praying with an unwavering faith when they said,
"Lord, thou art God." The indisputable fact of God was the basis of the
unshakable confidence which inspired them to pray. It is remarkable how impotent
and insignificant the feeble efforts of wicked men appear when we realize that
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm
The imperishable Word declares, "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear:
what can man do unto me?" Psa. 118:6. God gave us a certified promise when He
said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." The Lord has never deserted
His faithful people in the time of conflict. We need to have this blessed truth
imbedded in our consciousness, impressed on our minds, and indelibly inscribed
in our hearts by the hand of God. When once we grasp the fact of God it is not
difficult to pray.
God's everlasting kingdom will never be destroyed by the combined forces of
the ungodly. Almighty God is never in jeopardy. He has no fear of mortal man. He
shall remain immutable in purpose and invincible in power for evermore.
Consider what the praying company said about God's enemies, "For of a truth
against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius
Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For
to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." Acts
4:27, 28. The conscienceless Herod, and the cowardly Pontius Pilate are dead,
and their vicious opposition to Christ is dead and buried in the sepulcher of
the ages. The aggressive agnosticism and sneering atheism that ran rampant less
than a century ago has ceased to occupy a prominent place in the world today.
The vicious Liberalism which afflicts the church today will soon be dead, buried
together with modern infidels who have advocated its pernicious views.
Perhaps the sands have been washed in the footprints of the Stranger of
Galilee, but the world has not forgotten that He lived, loved, and labored to
save lost humanity from eternal death. The countless centuries which have
hurried into the dateless past have not impaired His strength to save us to the
uttermost. The marching millenniums will not erase His matchless Name from the
annals of sacred history. The last desolate day of time will not find Him buried
in the sepulcher of the ages. The fleeing ghost of eternity will never discover
the grave of God. Of Him it is written, "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast
laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a
garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed:
but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." Heb. 1:10-12.
When we fortify our faith and underscore our thinking with the words, "Lord,
thou art God," we can prevail in prayer and overcome the combined forces of evil
which threaten us in these trying times. Almighty God will not abandon His
eternal purpose because a few wicked men have lifted up their voices against
Him. Our God has assured us that all things work together for good to them that
love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose. His imperishable
promises give a strong consolation to lay hold of the hope set before us. Let us
hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that
The assembled company prayed that the messengers of the Word might have
courage. They said, "... Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they
may speak thy word." Acts 4:29. The voice of prayer was heard in heaven and the
answer granted when the assembled company of devout saints prayed this
importunate prayer in the time of crisis. God's people were not praying for
boldness because they were moral cowards. They were fearfully aware of the
danger which threatened them; but they were not too cowardly to face it with
The rulers of the people, and the elders in Israel had called Peter and John
before the council, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name
of Jesus. (Acts 4:18.) God's called servants could not heed this diabolical
command and be faithful to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. To comply
with such an unjust demand, not to speak at all nor teach in the Name of Jesus,
one must compromise the truth of Christ, and cease to emphasize the central
theme of the Gospel message. The very essence of the Gospel is contained in the
Name of Jesus.
It is interesting to notice that the believers were praying for the message
of divine truth. They said, "With all boldness they may speak thy word." The
emphasis is placed on "Thy word." The Christians wanted to hear God's Word
declared with firm conviction and unwavering confidence. They evidently wanted
to be edified and enlightened by the message of saving truth. They obviously
believed that the Gospel was the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believed it. It is indeed blessed to discover a people who desire to hear the
message of redeeming grace, a people who do not want to be entertained with
cheap programs and silly plays in the church, a people hungry for the bread of
life which Christ only can give.
The assembled believers prayed for the messengers of the Gospel, saying,
"Grant unto thy servants." It is well to notice that the Christians said, "Thy
servants." They evidently recognized that the apostles were the servants of God.
They were not considered to be servants of an institution, or an organization.
They considered the apostles to be the called servants of God, who had
commissioned them to serve His redeemed family. These godly men were not hired
promoters; they were Christ's holy messengers.
It does not require moral courage to promote a program to entertain a group
of nominal Christians. Neither does it require courage to give a book review, or
speak on current events; but it does require boldness to press the claims of
Christ on men, and demand that they repent of their sins and yield themselves to
It does not require spiritual fortitude to organize a campaign to raise money
for the general interests of the church; but it does take much prayer and
faithful preaching to precipitate a genuine revival of full salvation.
To raise these issues does not mean that one is indulging in hurtful
criticism of God's faithful people and preachers. It does mean that one is
gravely concerned about the praying of God's people, who are members of the body
of Christ. It is apparent that a devout minister can perform his work for Christ
more efficiently when he knows that the Christians want to hear the Word and are
supporting him with their prayers and faith. The record shows that Peter and
John had joined the company of saints in the fellowship of prayer. This fact
discloses that the messengers of Christ realized the necessity of prevailing
It is not unusual to hear some ministers say they are so burdened with the
work of the church that they have very little time to spend in earnest prayer.
This is a startling admission for any man to make, especially a minister of the
Gospel. It is a serious matter in the life of a preacher when he allows himself
to be cumbered with much serving. The results of his neglect of prayer will be
revealed by the poverty of his preaching. It is possible for a minister to
become so preoccupied with his duties that he will give prayer a place of
secondary importance in his life. God's servants should consider that nothing
pertaining to the church of Christ is more important than waiting before the
Lord in the secret place of prayer. The man of God loses his passion for souls
when he willfully neglects to pray. He must wait until his soul is aflame with
holy zeal, and his mind stimulated with fresh news from heaven. When he takes
proper time to pray, his preaching will edify and enlighten the Christians, and
the fruitfulness of his ministry will be increased.
The writer disclosed some remarkable results from this ministry of prayer
when he said, "And with great power gave the Apostles witness of the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." v.33.
The assembled company prayed for miracles to be performed in the name of
Jesus. "By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may
be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus." v.30. It is obvious that the
Christians expected miracles to accompany the preaching of the Word. It is
interesting to note that the prayer for boldness to speak the Word included the
petition for healing, and signs and wonders. The order of the prayer places
preaching the Word first before the performing of miracles in the name of
Our Lord placed more emphasis on preaching and teaching than He did on His
gracious ministry of healing the sick, and showing signs and wonders. However,
we are not to conclude that such miracles cannot be performed through the power
of prayer in this age and generation. The healing of the sick, and the signs and
wonders performed in the name of Jesus accompany the preaching of the Word.
This fact is clearly observed when we give thoughtful attention to the import
of the prayer. The prayer for miracles reveals the true concept regarding the
power of Jesus to heal. They said, "By stretching forth thine hand to heal ..."
The presence of Jesus was so real to praying saints that they asked Him to
stretch forth His nail-scarred hand and heal the people.
Jesus did stretch forth His hand and touched the diseased bodies of men, and
they were instantly healed. The fact that Christ has ascended to heaven has not
changed our concept of His Divine Person. He is willing and able to stretch
forth His hand and heal our broken bodies today like He did in the days of His
I am persuaded to believe that the professing Christians would see more
miracles of healings performed by the hand of Jesus if they would spend more
time in earnest prayer for the messengers of the Gospel.
I am convinced that the Lord will work wonders in this age of indifference if
we will cease to limit Him by unbelief, and accept the fact that miracles can be
performed today by the outstretched hand of the Holy Child Jesus.