“PRAYER TARGETS” Acts 12:5
INTRO – Do you have some specific prayer targets? In other words, what are you specifically praying about these days? Who are you praying for? Are you praying for things that, when they get answered, the only answer will be that God did it?
Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” I think that can be applied to our prayer lives. Too many people aim at nothing in their prayer lives. They don’t have specific targets that they are praying about. How many of us are content to just toss up random, general, half-hearted prayers that will probably never get answered? Or how many of us pray for things that are probably going to come to pass anyhow? Or how many of us pray about things that we can do ourselves, just in case God doesn’t come through for us?
But if we truly believe in the power of prayer as many of say we do, then we will not be content w/ just praying those kinds of prayers. We will be praying w/ specific prayer targets in our minds & on our hearts.
- We will pray w/ fervency
- We will pray w/ consistency
- We will pray w/ persistency
- We will pray w/ dependency
- We will pray w/ urgency
All throughout the Bible, we see examples of very specific prayers that are prayed.
- David in Ps. 51
- Nehemiah when he heard that the walls & gates of Jerusalem were destroyed – Neh. 1:4-11
- Jesus Himself in John 17
Here in Acts 12, we see that the church was praying specifically for Peter in his imprisonment. He was their prayer target as they met to pray. Why were they targeting their prayer toward Peter in this passage?
- B/c of the danger he was in
- B/c of their devotion to him & to God
- B/c of their dedication to prayer & to each other
- B/c of the dynamic change that prayer could bring
The CHURCH had come TOGETHER to pray for Peter. We will talk about that in a minute, & I will also be preaching next week on the importance of our praying together.
Let’s look at some targets that we all as Christ-followers should be shooting at in our prayer lives:
That God be glorified – THE BIG TARGET – Our chief concern in life should be to glorify God in all that we do. “Resolved: that every man should live to the glory of God. Resolved second: that whether others do this or not I will.” (Martin Luther) The glory of God is our main motivation in our prayer life, the BIG target that we encompasses all others. It’s not an easy target to hit, but one that we must strive toward all the time. Charles Spurgeon: “It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence – ‘Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be glory.’”
Certainly, Peter was chiefly concerned w/ the glory of God in his life & in the Church.
- Acts 5:29, 41-42
That lost people be justified – What was Peter doing that got him thrown in jail? Preaching the Gospel! He had a huge heart for those who were lost.
Paul said in Rom. 10:1, “Brothers, my heart’s desire & prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.”
“We should be praying for the unsaved, pleading with God on their behalf. The unconverted are dead in trespasses and sins; they are blind to the Gospel, and they are deaf to the truth of God’s Word. Who can overcome their darkness and grant them the gift of salvation? Who can create a new nature within them and set them free from their own blindness and self-absorption? Only God can intervene and save them.
And who can rid us of our selfishness so that believers have a burden for their unsaved friends and relatives? Who can birth within us a passionate concern for the eternal destiny of the lost? Who but the Spirit can motivate us to pray earnestly that they might be saved?” (http://www.moodychurch.org/news/prayer-unsaved-friend/)
That our lives be purified – Peter was concerned w/ the need for holiness & purity in the lives of those who are Christ-followers. We read in 1 Peter 1:13-16 – “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
Henry Blackaby: “I wonder why we have cried unto the Lord & seen so little. Could it be that God is waiting for His servants to walk over the highway of holiness to God? The unclean will not walk on it.” (Holiness).
That the Church be edified – “…the concept of edification in the New Testament is applied to the corporate body (mutual edification). Mutual edification involves helping one another along the road to Christlikeness, and it requires the participation of all members of the church. Teaching and preaching improve our understanding of God; encouragement promotes conduct that develops Christlike character. When we exhort one another and hold one another accountable, we are prompted to engage in activities that promote godliness. Accountability means we lovingly check each other’s spiritual progress. Christlike service ensures that the needs of the church are met, and true fellowship is the interaction we have with each other on a deeper spiritual level. The corporate nature of edification cannot be overemphasized. Without mutual edification, the church becomes a collection of spiritual weaklings, a perpetual nursery for spiritual infants, rather than a body…” (http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-edification.html)
Peter was working hard to build up & strengthen the Church. He was the apostle that Jesus designated & the Holy Spirit used to launch the Church in Acts 2. Look at Acts 2:42-47.
Then he kept working to build up the church, preaching, teaching, sharing, witnessing, building until the day he died. 2 Peter 1:3ff.
Our of those prayer targets that all of us as Christ-followers need to aim toward, each of us needs to hone in on the specific targets in our lives that need our attention in prayer. These specific targets come under 3 categories:
PRAYING FOR OURSELVES
PRAYING FOR OTHERS
PRAYING FOR OUR CHURCH
I want us as a Church FAMILY to unite our hearts TOGETHER in prayer for some specific prayer targets:
- 1000 committed church members
- A Children’s Minister
- Mark Sandifer fulltime
- An African-American staff member
- Pickup truck & trailer for Mission Byram
- Mission Byram building
- 100 baptisms
- No more financial problems