Pray and Fast to Become God's Kingdom People
As we emerge from a troubled year, we must train ourselves to emerge from our “closed-door” thinking and think “open-door” thoughts — Kingdom thoughts. For that, our good example is Jesus’ disciples who emerged from their own closed doors with a new role—apostles—transformed by the Holy Spirit, ready to proclaim the gospel “in Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world.”
Luke records the story in the Book of Acts. He especially emphasizes how they and a band of 120 others prayed and fasted beforehand. This emphasis upon prayer is characteristic of Luke’s history of the early church. Altogether, he records 30 times when they prayed, and God answered. Their world was no less troubled than ours, yet this tiny band of ordinary fishermen, shopkeepers and family people pushed back at a bullying world and won.
We do well to heed what these early Christians did right. For what situations did they pray and fast? What kind of prayers did God heed and answer? Since God does not change, and since His Great Commission has not changed, we can safely assume that God will answer similar prayers in our own day.
Whether we live in the West or in India, we also live in a bullying world. Since the first century, the actors and circumstances have changed, but our God has not.
This month, we will briefly review the Book of Acts for the prayer concerns of the early church. Remarkably, their concerns resemble our own. Let us learn from our spiritual forefathers. Let us permit the Holy Spirit to teach us, and God will enable us to think Kingdom thoughts. These bigger thoughts will transform our minds and enable us to better proclaim the gospel to the remaining unreached “uttermost parts of the world.”
That includes the many unreached peoples of India. Now, let us join our hearts and minds with His. Pray for both God’s people in India and at home because we are all in the same partnership together with Him.
T. Valson Abraham
The included references on prayer all take place in the context of specific events. I recommend that you read the references with those events in mind to learn their full significance.
One hundred twenty disciples of Jesus united in obeying Jesus’ command to pray and wait on God for the power of the Holy Spirit to come on them (1:8, 14).
Pray that all our churches in India and the West will learn to wait on God for the power of the Holy Spirit and let Him make their plans.
The disciples prayed for wisdom and discernment in choosing leaders who would have hearts of love and compassion for God and those in need (1:24).
Pray for evangelists and pastors with shepherd hearts for those to whom they minister. Pray for Odisha Bible Training Center.
The growing church devoted themselves to prayer with the same priority they gave to teaching and doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread (2:42).
Pray that the Holy Spirit will teach us how to make prayer an integral part of life and activity, bringing deep relationships with God and with one another. Pray for India Bible College and Seminary.
The church leaders in Jerusalem regularly engaged in corporate prayer and worship with other believers (3:1).
Pray for a solid relationship with other like-minded groups based upon a firm foundation of common relationship with God through prayer. Pray for Punjab Bible College.
The church united in faith around the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men and His power working through His servants to accomplish His greater purposes (4:24).
Pray for a church that recaptures faith in a sovereign God who reigns over a world that rages against Him. Pray for Mizoram Bible College.
The church laid before God their honest situations in a hostile world and prayed for boldness to speak God’s truth and to receive power to heal and show signs and wonders (4:24-31).
Pray for the same boldness He granted to the early church even in times of persecution. Pray for Darjeeling Bible Training Center.
The early church leadership saw its first priority as prayer and the ministry of the Word, leaving social ministries to deacons and others with gifts of compassion (6:14).
Pray that our churches in India and the West will not be diverted from the ministry of the Word by good but lesser priorities. Pray for Gujarat Bible Training Center.
Early church leaders chose assistants in ministry, looking above all for Spirit-filled and praying people, discerned through prayer and dedicated to prayer ministry (6:6).
Pray for discernment to choose ministry leaders not only with natural abilities but Spirit-filled abilities, marked with lives of prayer. Pray we will have an effective Uttar Pradesh Bible Training Center in coming days.
Persecuted Christians (in this case, Stephen) were ready to give up their lives for Jesus Christ (7:59).
Pray for evangelists and pastors whose dedication to Christ is complete, making them willing to “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.” Pray for Tamil Nadu Bible Training Center.
Persecuted Christians prayed for their persecutors, leading some of them to conversion (such as Saul of Tarsus) (7:60).
Pray that Christians would love their enemies, and pray for those who spitefully use them. Pray for Hyderabad Bible Training Center.
Church leaders didn’t just pray for people to become Christians but also to manifest the Holy Spirit’s power (8:15).
Pray for leaders who aren’t just interested in numbers but in Spirit-filled and gifted followers of Jesus Christ. Pray for Himachal Bible College.
Church leaders boldly called out specific sins and implored them to repent. They did not hold back in fear of offending others (8:22).
Pray for churches with courage to call out sin in their midst and to emphasize repentance before a gracious God who nevertheless does not tolerate sin. Pray for Karnataka Bible Training Center.
The early church expected deep repentance before God in true conversion (as did Saul of Tarsus), not just theological correctness (9:11).
Pray for evangelists and pastors who will speak hard and even unpopular truths, not just preach what appeals to popular tastes. Pray for Zion Bible College in Andhra Pradesh.
The early church prayed bold prayers, resurrection prayers, that only God could possibly answer, not just “safe” prayers that carried no risk but sounded “caring” and “kind” (9:40).
Pray for a church that prays to glorify God and demonstrate His power before an unbelieving but needy world. Pray for IGO’s outreach and discipleship in Jammu & Kashmir.
Early Christians prayed Spirit-filled prayers that led to supernatural encounters and opened their eyes to new truths about God, truths that changed their hearts and brought peoples into the Kingdom from every conceivable (and inconceivable) background (10:1-53).
Pray for a church open to people totally different from yourself, even those who are not socially acceptable. Pray for the Asha Kirans (Schools of Hope) among children from the slums and villages of Punjab and Odisha.
Early Christians prayed memorial offerings to God (prayers of faith demonstrated through gifts of faith), resulting in spiritual revolutions (10:4ff).
Pray the gift of faith for Christians of India and the West, putting their money where their mouth is, letting God work beyond all imagination. Pray for Odisha Bible Training Center.
The early church prayed prayers that led to revolutionary changes in their own thinking, not just confirming old assumptions (11:5).
Pray for a humble attitude in Indian and western Christians that allows God to change us as well as the people we want to see changed. Pray for India Bible College and Seminary.
The church made earnest prayers for imprisoned brothers and sisters which led to miraculous rescues by angels (12:5).
Pray for our brothers and sisters in India who suffer imprisonment for their faith, that they will experience God’s rescue and angelic help. Pray for Punjab Bible College.
The church made continuous prayers for those in need (12:12).
Pray for a renewed church that never gives up praying for the things of God whatever the opposition. Pray for Mizoram Bible College.
Antioch’s church set apart Saul and Barnabus for the calling God had for them by fasting and praying before laying hands on them (13:3).
Pray and fast for God to reveal men and women He has set apart for ministry to unreached places. Pray for Darjeeling Bible Training Center.
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church with prayer and fasting, committing them to the Lord in whom they believed (14:23).
Pray for discerning church leaders who make decisions only after prayer, fasting and full trust in God. Pray for Gujarat Bible Training Center.
In response to a vision, Paul preached the gospel in Philippi, to a group of receptive women among whom was Lydia, one of the most influential women of the early church in Europe (16:13-15).
Pray for godly and influential women to do the Lord’s ministry and the church’s insight to recognize their potential in accomplishing God’s kingdom purposes in big ways. Pray for an effective outreach in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.
Paul and Silas praised God in the midst of beatings and imprisonment, which brought God’s intervention and conversion of the persecutors (16:25).
Pray for an attitude that sees God in control of all circumstances, positive and negative, and seeks opportunities to evangelize our persecutors. Pray for Himachal Bible College.
After Paul spent time in Ephesus, planting and building a mature church, he told the Ephesians the principles that guided him, and he ended his ministry in Ephesus as he began it—with prayer (20:36).
Pray for men and women with spiritual gifts to build mature churches, and the insight and humility to know when to pass on the ministry to others. Pray for Karnataka Bible Training Center.
Paul and the early Christians used any and every occasion to offer unto God in prayer, including saying goodbye to friends (21:5).
Pray for workers and believers who see every occasion as a time to recognize God’s sovereignty and an opportunity for Him to act. Pray for Tamil Nadu Bible Training Center.
Paul learned that regularity in prayer could save his life from mortal enemies (22:17).
Pray for workers and believers who know when to stay for the Lord’s sake as well as to leave for safety’s sake. Pray for the state of Telangana.
Paul prayed in the midst of natural dangers as well as in the face of man-made dangers (27:29).
Pray that we might face every situation in life convinced of God’s control of all circumstances. Pray for Hyderabad Bible Training Center.
Paul had compassion on a sick man and prayed for healing power. God granted it (28:8).
Pray that God’s people would demonstrate their compassion in the ways Christ demonstrated it, including through healing. Pray for the Asha Kirans (Schools of Hope) among children from the slums and villages of Punjab and Odisha.