On Sunday I preached through Acts 10. For the last few weeks I’ve been returning to the passage I preached on Sunday morning and preaching from that same passage in the evening. As I study I find so many things that need to be addressed, but there just isn’t enough time to do it so I’ve been able to cover some of those items in the evening time.
Last week I noticed something…an angel appeared to Cornelius in a vision “about the ninth hour of the day.” (Acts 10:3) In Acts 10:9 we find Peter going on a housetop “about the sixth hour to pray.” It is interesting because Peter and John were going to the temple at the ninth hour to pray in Acts 3. Peter and Cornelius had visions from God at times set-aside specifically for prayer.
My point was that setting aside time for specific prayer will enable us to be in a position to hear from God, to be transformed by God, and to learn to avoid temptation. I challenged our church to join Peter and John and other early Christians in setting aside three separate times to get away and seek God in His Word and in prayer. I am not trying to set up a new legalistic approach, but to set aside time—in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night to get alone with God and to hear from Him.
The greatest resource you and I have in prayer is the Word of God. Yesterday afternoon I was reading and praying through the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. I came to chapter 5:18-20, “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart…” (ESV)
That Scripture led me to pray for God to supply my needs, but also for the power to enjoy the things He gives me as a gift from Him. I love the idea in verse 20 and that is where I spent my time, “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” The writer just spoke of the toil of life and in this life there are many hardships, but as I read this verse I found myself asking God to so occupy me with His joy in my heart that the suffering would seem like nothing.
This afternoon I found myself praying through the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. I did pray through it, but to be honest, I never moved from the first thing listed—love. I found myself asking God to help me love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I found myself praying that God would help me love Kim as Christ loves the Church. I found myself praying and asking God to help me love my girls in a way that would demonstrate the love the Father has for them. But the more I prayed the more I found myself asking the Holy Spirit to simply help me love Jesus with all that I have.
I have to confess, I hate that I have to ask Him for help in that area—I should not have to have help loving the most glorious of all, the most wonderful of all, but I do. I’m in Christ, but the flesh is still echoing so strongly that I need all the help I can just to love Him as He deserves to be loved.
I finally just asked the Holy Spirit, who Romans 8 says “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God,” to help me by simply loving Jesus through me with all that I have. I share this with you because I want to encourage you to pray with me during the month of September. I call it a Prayer Experiment because I want to urge you to set aside, for the month of September, three specific times every day to get alone with God, to get into His Word, and to pray His Word back to Him. Will you join me?