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To be the strong, stable, and mature believer God wants you to be, you need to be passionate about prayer. New Testament believers were addicted to prayer, and they prayed all the time. Moreover, God wants us to pray all the time, wherever we are, about anything we’re facing or about anything for which He asks us to pray.
Furthermore, God has called us to pray all the time, in all places, with all manner of prayers. We can pray at home, at work, in our car, while we walk — anywhere. Obviously, prayer should be a regular part of our life regardless of where we are.
The lessons in this study of 10 Ways to be a Stronger Christian are based on a study I worked through by Rick Renner Ministries. The precious Word of God states in Romans 8:1 (MEV): There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Therefore, do not allow the Adversary to bring condemnation for areas throughout this study series where you may be weak. Ask your Heavenly Father to help you become stronger and He will!
Scriptures Referenced in this Lesson
- Acts 1:13-15; 2:1-4; 2:42; 3:1-10; 3:12-26; 4:1-31
- Acts 8:15-17; 10:1-5; 10:29-33; 12:1-7; 13:2-3; 16:25-28
- Jeremiah 33:3
- Ephesians 6:18
- Colossians 4:2
Greek words referenced
- proskartereo: to persevere consistently
- mathetes: a student
- proseuche: up-front, intimate contact; coming close to express a wish, desire, prayer, or vow;
- en panti kairo: at all times; in every season; at every opportunity
- pases: every kind; every type; every sort
The early church was passionate about prayer
Acts 2:42 reveals a great deal about the Early Church. It states:
The believers devoted themselves [continued steadfastly (NKJV)] to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), [the breaking of bread (NKJV)] and to prayer. [Bracketed inserts are mine]
Devoted/Continued steadfastly is translated from the Greek word proskartereo. Proskartereo means to persevere consistently. It depicts:
- Intense focus and hard work
- Constant diligence and effort that never lets up
- It can even carry the idea of addiction
When the Bible says the believers “continued steadfastly,” you could translate it as:
“they were intensely focused, working very hard, consistently diligent, and investing effort that never let up.”
What was the focus of their intense work and “addiction”? It was the apostle’s doctrine, which was:
- the Word of God,
- breaking of bread,
- and prayers.
Students of Jesus
As we have seen in earlier lessons, the apostles learned everything about their ministries from Jesus Himself. They were called His “disciples”.
The Greek word translated as “disciples” is mathetes.
This is a technical term describing a student who is wholly submitted to the authority of his master. The student’s job was to monitor everything his master did and replicate it in his own personal life.
Therefore, for three years, the disciples walked with Jesus, observing His every action. Eventually, little by little, they learned to replicate in their own lives what they saw Him do. Consequently, being passionate about prayer was learned from watching Jesus. And all that they had learned, they in turn taught to the Early Church!
What Is Prayer?
Proseuche is the word most often used for “prayer” in the entire New Testament. It is the compound of two words:
- the word pros, which means to draw very near or to be face-to-face
- the word euche, which means a vow, a wish, or a desire
When these two words are compounded, it forms the word proseuche.
- This describes up-front, intimate contact.
- It indicates coming close to express a wish, desire, prayer, or vow.
Originally, this word was used to depict a person who vowed to give something of great value to God in exchange for a favorable answer to prayer.
Moreover, it portrays an individual who desires to see his prayer answered so desperately that he is willing to surrender everything he owns in exchange for answered prayer. Hence, inherent in this word is the concept of surrender.
The best example of proseuche (prayer)
The best example of this word proseuche (prayer) is the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1.
Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah, and she had been childless for quite some time. Year after year, she wanted God to give her a child, but she remained barren. Finally, in great bitterness of soul, she came to the altar of God and prayed. She said, “God I desperately want a child. If You’ll give me a child, I’ll give him back to You. He’ll be Yours all the days of his life.”
This is a perfect example of the word proseuche. Hannah drew near to God and expressed her wish and a deep desire for a child. With her prayer, she made a vow. She said, “God if You give me a child, I’ll give You something — I’ll give him back to You.” This is the principle of surrender, which is inseparably linked to prayer.
God answered her request. He was waiting for her to come to the altar in a place of total surrender. In that position, she was ready to receive the gift of answered prayer. God opened her womb, and she conceived and gave birth to Samuel, who eventually became a great prophet and judge in Israel.
Something to ponder
You may think you are waiting on God to answer your prayer, but it is possible that He is waiting for you to come to a place of surrender.
Again, the element of coming to the altar to surrender something is almost always involved in answered prayer. If you are willing to surrender yourself to God, He will respond favorably to you.
The early believers were addicted to prayer — they were addicted to coming to the altar of God and surrendering their lives. Basically, they prayed, “God, we’ll give You everything if You will give us Your power.” This was the exchange that took place, and this same exchange is available to you.
Nine results of being passionate about prayer in the book of Acts
1. Passionate about prayer on Pentecost
Acts 1:13-15 – The disciples were gathered for prayer for ten days in the Upper Room. Verse 14 states:
“They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.”
Furthermore, Acts 2:1-4 states that as they were gathered for prayer on the Day of Pentecost, the power of the Holy Spirit came, and the Church was
2. On the way to a prayer service
In Acts 3:1-10 we read that Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service.
As they were headed to that place of prayer, they came upon a crippled
man at the gate called “Beautiful.” The Holy Spirit seized that opportunity,
flowing through Peter and John, to miraculously heal the man.
Moreover, Acts 3:12-26 states that Peter used this opportunity to exalt Jesus for the healing.
3. Believers pray for Peter and John
Consequently, confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees, they were arrested and brought before
the council the next day (see Acts 4:1-22).
Finally, Peter and John were released and they returned to the other believers. Hence, the believers being passionate about prayer joined together to pray for courage.
“When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God… And now, O Lord, hear their threats and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” – Acts 4:24-30
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. – Acts 4:31
4. A prayer for baptism in the Holy Spirit
The apostles in Jerusalem received word of the Samaritans being saved. Therefore, Peter and John went to Samaria to pray that the Samaritans would receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
“As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 8:15-17
5. Ananias prays for Saul (Paul)
We read in Acts 9:10-12:
“Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
This was a pivotal moment in the life of Saul (soon to be Paul) and in the life of the Church. And it came during a time of prayer.
6. An angel appears during prayer
Acts 10:1-5: “In Caesarea, there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God.”
One particular day, an angel appeared to Cornelius while he was praying.
“…And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter.”
The above verse implies how passionate about prayer the Roman Centurian was. Afterward, Peter visits the home of Cornelius and in verse 29 Peter asks why they sent for him. Cornelius replied,
“Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! Now send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.’ So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.” – Acts 10:29-33
7. Believers pray for Peter’s release
Acts 12:1-12: Peter had been arrested and placed in prison by King Herod.
Meanwhile, the believers had gathered together in the home of John Mark’s mother, Barnabas’ sister, to pray for his release. Being passionate about prayer and understanding the power of prayer, the church prayed earnestly for him.
While the believers were praying, God responded. He sent an angel and supernaturally released Peter from prison. We read in verses 6-7:
“The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists.”
All this happened as a result of being passionate about prayer.
8. Leaders of Antioch pray for wisdom
Acts 13:2-3: We read that the leaders of Antioch were gathered together praying and fasting before the Lord. They were calling unto God, asking Him for wisdom, direction, and blessing.
“One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.”
9. Paul and Silas pray while imprisoned
In our previous lesson, we saw that Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into prison for sharing the Gospel. Scripture states in verse 26, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God….”
They were praying and singing songs when, suddenly, an earthquake shook the prison where they were held. A supernatural earthquake, which killed no one, shook the prison, undoing everyone’s chains and lifting the door off its hinges so they could go free. Again, this was God’s response to prayer. Acts 16:25-28
Hence, in all these examples, we see that believers were passionate about prayer. They were obeying God’s command in Jeremiah 33:3, which states:
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come...”
They were calling out to God in prayer, and as a result, God answered them and invaded their world. They experienced the manifestation of the power of God.
How often should you pray?
Ephesians 6:18 lets us know the frequency of our praying. It states:
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere….”
“Always” is the translation of the Greek phrase en panti kairo, and it means at all times, in every season, at every opportunity.
A literal translation would read, “Pray in every moment, at any time, whenever you can, whenever you get a chance.”
“All” is the translation of the Greek word pases, which means to use every kind of prayer, every type of prayer, every sort of prayer.
When we put the meanings of all this together, it could say something like the following:
Praying in every moment, at any time, whenever you get an opportunity, and doing it with every kind of prayer that is available to use.
In Colossians 4:2, we are commanded to “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
As we learned earlier the word “devote” carries the idea of addiction. Therefore, when we are told, “Devote yourselves to prayer,” it really means we are to be addicted to prayer.
This is the picture of a persistent, never-giving-up type of praying. Moreover, it depicts a person who wants something so desperately that he prays robust prayers for it. These are prayers that are strong, solid, and heavy-duty. It is a picture of serious praying!
Six specific types of prayer
In conclusion, we have learned that we need to be passionate about prayer. Consequently, we are to pray all the time, with every chance we get, using every kind of prayer.
This lets us know that there are different types of prayers. In fact, there are six specific types of prayer found in the New Testament. They are the prayers of:
- Authority (sometimes called the prayer of faith)
All of these are types of prayer specifically mentioned in the New Testament, and the Early Church was addicted to these.
Questions for reflection
Jesus wants us to pray to the Father and ask for whatever we need in His Name.
You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! – John 14:13-14
According to 1 John 5:14-15 and John 15:7:
- What should your prayer requests be filled with?
- What are you promised as a result?
God is ready, willing, and able to answer your prayers. There are certain things, however, that can hinder your prayers. Look up the following verses and identify the causes of unanswered prayer.
- Psalm 66:18-20
- Isaiah 1:15-19; Isaiah 59:1-3
- Matthew 6:14-15
- Mark 11:24-25
- 2 Chronicles 7:14
- James 1:6-7; James 4:1-3
- What causes for unanswered prayer did you find?
- Are you dealing with any of these issues in your life?
- If so, which one(s)?
- What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do to make things right?
- Looking back over your life, briefly describe at least one major answer to prayer.
- How did God’s coming through for you impact your life?
- How about the lives of those around you?
- What are you praying and believing God for right now?
- Take a moment to share some of the details of your situation.
- What promises from God’s Word can you write down and begin to pray in regard to seeing this prayer answered?
Thank you for taking the time to learn what it means to be passionate about prayer. May you grow closer to the One who loves you more than you can know!
Until we meet again, I am, Passionately Loving Jesus, The Anchor of my soul!