December 16, 2012 – December 22, 2012
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Romans 12:12.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 8, 9–29; The Acts of the Apostles, 9–16.
“We are to find our strength just where the early disciples found their strength: ‘These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.’ Acts 1:14.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 140.
1 THE UPPER ROOM EXPERIENCE
- What was the last thing Jesus promised His disciples before ascending to heaven? Acts 1:6–9.
- What, then, was the first thing the disciples did before starting their mission? Acts 1:10–14. Describe the results. Acts 2:1–4, 41.
Note: “In obedience to the word of their Master the disciples assembled in Jerusalem to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise. Here they spent ten days, days of deep heart searching. They put away all differences and drew close together in Christian fellowship. … At the end of ten days the Lord fulfilled His promise by a wonderful outpouring of His Spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 15.
“Would it not be well for you to seek the Lord as the disciples sought Him before the day of Pentecost? After Christ’s ascension, His disciples—men of varied talents and capabilities—assembled in an upper chamber to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this room ‘all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication’ [Acts 1:14]. They made thorough work of repentance by confessing their own sins. Upon them was laid no burden to confess one another’s sins. Settling all differences and alienations, they were of one accord, and prayed with unity of purpose for ten days.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 368.
2 UNCTION FROM ON HIGH
- What can we learn from the disciples’ action when the chief priests and rulers threatened Peter and John because of their powerful witness for Christ? Acts 4:24–33.
Note: “By the grace of Christ the apostles were made what they were. It was sincere devotion and humble, earnest prayer that brought them into close communion with Him. They sat together with Him in heavenly places. They realized the greatness of their debt to Him. By earnest, persevering prayer they obtained the endowment of the Holy Spirit, and then they went forth, weighted with the burden of saving souls, filled with zeal to extend the triumphs of the cross. And under their labors many souls were brought from darkness to light, and many churches were raised up.
“Shall we be less earnest than were the apostles? Shall we not by living faith claim the promises that moved them to the depths of their being to call upon the Lord Jesus for the fulfillment of His word: ‘Ask, and ye shall receive’? John 16:24. Is not the Spirit of God to come today in answer to earnest, persevering prayer, and fill men with power? Is not God saying today to His praying, trusting, believing workers, who are opening the Scriptures to those ignorant of the precious truth they contain: ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world’? Matthew 28:20. Why, then, is the church so weak and spiritless?
“As the disciples, filled with the power of the Spirit, went forth to proclaim the gospel, so God’s servants are to go forth today. Filled with an unselfish desire to give the message of mercy to those who are in the darkness of error and unbelief, we are to take up the Lord’s work. He gives us our part to do in co-operation with Him, and He will also move on the hearts of unbelievers to carry forward His work in the regions beyond. Already many are receiving the Holy Spirit, and no longer will the way be blocked by listless indifference.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 32, 33.
- How did the early church cooperate with God’s plan to miraculously keep His messengers of truth on active duty? Acts 12:1–17.
Note: “Only the sense of God’s presence can banish the fear that, for the timid child, would make life a burden. … Let him read how to Peter, in prison and condemned to death, God’s angel appeared; how, past the armed guards, the massive doors and great iron gateway with their bolts and bars, the angel led God’s servant forth in safety.” Education, 255, 256.
3 THANKFULNESS AND REVERENCE
- With what kind of attitude did Paul and Silas pray when rudely cast into prison at Philippi, and how did this touch the heart of the jailer? Acts 16:16–34.
Note: “Paul and Silas suffered the loss of all things. They suffered scourging, and were in no gentle manner thrown upon the cold floor of a dungeon in a most painful position, their feet elevated and fastened in the stocks. Did repinings and complaints then reach the ear of the jailer? Oh, no! From the inner prison, voices broke the silence of midnight with songs of joy and praise to God. These disciples were cheered by a deep and earnest love for the cause of their Redeemer, for which they suffered.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 406.
- How did Peter’s attitude promote God’s glory in Joppa? Acts 9:36–42.
Note: “Directing that the weeping friends be sent from the room, he [the apostle] kneeled down and prayed fervently to God to restore Dorcas to life and health.” The Acts of the Apostles, 132.
What did God impress Ellen White to state regarding our attitude in prayer?
Note: “Where have our brethren obtained the idea that they should stand upon their feet when praying to God? One who has been educated for about five years in Battle Creek was asked to lead in prayer before Sister White should speak to the people. But as I beheld him standing upright upon his feet while his lips were about to open in prayer to God, my soul was stirred within me to give him an open rebuke. Calling him by name, I said, ‘Get down upon your knees.’ This is the proper position always.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 311.
- Of what did the apostle Paul see fit to remind us, and why? Hebrews 12:28, 29.
Note: “Some think it a mark of humility to pray to God in a common manner, as if talking with a human being. They profane His name by needlessly and irreverently mingling with their prayers the words, ‘God Almighty’—awful, sacred words, which should never pass the lips except in subdued tones and with a feeling of awe.” Gospel Workers, 176.
4 THAT TRUTH MAY BE SPREAD
- How far-reaching were the answers to the prayers of Cornelius and Peter? Acts 10:1, 2, 9–16, 25–35.
Note: “From the case of Cornelius we may learn a lesson that we would do well to understand. The God of heaven sends His messengers to this earth to set in operation a train of circumstances which will bring Peter into connection with Cornelius, that Cornelius may learn the truth. Through angel ministration Peter is brought into cooperation with the inquiring souls who have all things in readiness to hear the truth and receive advanced light. …
“The conversion of Cornelius and his household was only the first fruits of a harvest to be gathered in from the world. From this household a widespread work of grace was carried on in a heathen city.” Evangelism, 558.
- What did the apostles in Jerusalem do when they heard that God’s word had been received in Samaria? Acts 8:14–17.
Note: “We are no more secure from false teachers now than they were in the apostles’ days; and, if we do no more, we should take as special measures as they did to secure the peace, harmony, and union of the flock. We have their example, and should follow it. Brethren of experience and of sound minds should assemble, and following the Word of God and the sanction of the Holy Spirit, should, with fervent prayer, lay hands upon those who have given full proof that they have received their commission of God, and set them apart to devote themselves entirely to His work. This act would show the sanction of the church to their going forth as messengers to carry the most solemn message ever given to men.” Early Writings, 101.
- What specific duty do we all have toward our ministers, evangelists, and Bible workers who labor in the Lord’s vineyard? Ephesians 6:18–20.
Note: “Those who do not go from place to place to labor, can take hold of the arm of God by living faith. They can pray that the God of heaven will help those who are carrying the truth to others.” The Review and Herald, June 29, 1886.
5 KEEPING THE CONNECTION
- What sums up the prayer life of the early church, and how is this to encourage us? Romans 12:12.
Note: “When we read the lives of men who have been eminent for their piety we often regard their experiences and attainments as far beyond our reach. But this is not the case. Christ died for all; and we are assured in His word that He is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. The prophets and apostles did not perfect Christian character by a miracle. They used the means which God had placed within their reach; and all who will put forth the same effort will secure the same results.” The Sanctified Life, 84.
- What does Peter imply as a hindrance to men’s prayers? I Peter 3:7. How else are we warned of prayers hindered? Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 58:1–5.
Note: “[Isaiah 58:1–3 quoted.]
“A people are here addressed who make high profession, who are in the habit of praying, and who delight in religious exercises; yet there is a lack. They realize that their prayers are not answered; their zealous, earnest efforts are not observed in heaven, and they earnestly inquire why the Lord makes them no returns. It is not because there is any neglect on the part of God. The difficulty is with the people. While professing godliness, they do not bear fruit to the glory of God; their works are not what they should be. They are living in neglect of positive duties. Unless these are performed, God cannot answer their prayers according to His glory. In the case of offering prayer for Sister F, there was confusion of sentiment. Some were fanatical and moved from impulse. They possessed a zeal, but not according to knowledge.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 147.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 What should be the first thing we do before going to witness?
2 How did John and Peter become so powerful in Christ?
3 Are you thankful in all things?
4 How can we help our ministers in their work?
5 What elements in the prayers of the early believers are still lacking in our own?
© 2003 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.