In yesterdays blog The View from the Vicarage: One in Heart and Mind I looked at what it meant for the church to be together, share together and reach out together as a new movement in the name of Jesus Christ.
Today I want to reflect on what enabled them to do this, on where that strength was found, and it may seem odd but I would like to use the passage that immediately precedes yesterdays Acts 4:23-31
After being hauled before the ruling council of the Sanhedrin Peter and John have been released but banned from speaking in Jesus name and threated with severe consequences. It is interesting to see their response in this troubled time is to pray ‘they raised their voices together in prayer to God.‘ Yet they don’t just blurt out a long list of prayer requests, that’s not how prayer works for the early church.
They start by naming their God for who he is and what he has done “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David …..
Herod and Pontius Pilate … did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
In their prayers they put God in his place, he is the creator of the earth, he has spoken in the past through his Holy Spirit and even Jesus death was able to happen because he allowed it for our salvation. They know they are praying to a God that will not let them down.
When they do humbly move to their prayer request it is for grace , mercy and power “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
We too live in troubled times and we too have turned to prayer. We need to come before our God and remember he is our creator, he is one who has spoken in the past and still speaks today, he is the one who will not let us down. We must be a people of prayer as we pray for those who make huge decisions affecting the health of our world and nation, as we pray for the carers, as we pray for those suffering with COVID19, as we pray for a vaccine and an antidote.
God does answer prayer, we know he does in our own lives and in our passage today we hear “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” God answered the apostle Peter and Johns prayers and he will answer ours too. This is what made them a church with ‘One Heart and Mind’
Lets continue to pray, formally following the pattern on prayer on our Prayer Page or in our own way but let us too ‘raise our voices together in prayer to God.’
Following the pattern of the early churches prayer is the hymn for today a 19th Century translation of a beautiful 7th Century hymn of prayer and praise:
1 Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and corner-stone
chosen of the Lord and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion’s help for ever,
and her confidence alone.
2 All within that holy city
dearly loved of God on high,
in exultant jubilation
sing, in perfect harmony;
God the One-in-Three adoring
in glad hymns eternally
3 We as living stones implore you:
Come among us, Lord, today!
with your gracious loving-kindness
hear your children as we pray;
and the fulness of your blessing
in our fellowship display.
4 Here entrust to all your servants
what we long from you to gain
that on earth and in the heavens
we one people shall remain,
till united in your glory
evermore with you we reign.
5 Praise and honour to the Father,
praise and honour to the Son,
praise and honour to the Spirit,
ever Three and ever One:
one in power and one in glory
while eternal ages run.
Your friend and vicar