The Power of a Prayer Meeting

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Prayer; Power in Prayer
Series: It Was Just A Prayer Meeting
[Editor's Note: This message is the first in a 14-Part series of messages from Dr. Cantrell on the subject: It Was Just A Prayer Meeting. All the sermons in this series will be uploaded on SermonCity in the next few weeks. All scripture in these messages are from the King James Version.]

Acts 1:1–2, John 15:5, 2 Chronicles 7:14

John 15:5 : "I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

2 Chronicles 7:14 : "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Acts 1:1-2 : "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:"

In the movie “The Wizard of Oz” we have some of the most wonderful quotes that most all of us over the age of 45 can readily quote. I will list a few of them from the movie:

Dorothy: “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. We must be over the rainbow!”

Dorothy: “Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!”

The Tin Man: “Now I know I’ve got a heart, cause it’s breaking,”

Dorothy: “Oh, but anyway, Toto, we’re going home – home! And this is my room, and you’re all here – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again; because I love you all! And… oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!”

Dorothy: “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

Just as Dorothy was removed from her comfort zone and began to face evil, fear, the unknown, the early church was confronted with the same situations. The disciples of Jesus could not even stay awake and pray with him in the garden on that most notorious night. In all honesty the disciples of Jesus took him for granted and maybe as long as he was with them, they failed to realize the importance of praying. The very moment he was gone and as they watched him ascend up into their world was turned upside down. Just as Dorothy was swept away into the unknown and the only thing that gave her any familiarity of home was her dog, Toto, so it was with the church. The only thing that gave them any resemblance of their time with Jesus was prayer. It did not take the early church long to realize that prayer was the only thing that would alleviate their pressing fears.

The early church accomplished so much with so little:

1 – Today we depend upon organization & committee’s, but in those days they had no experience with either. The early church built their organization as they went along, they mainly depended upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not the wisdom of man. They had no church constitution or bylaws, yet God used them in a mighty way. How?

2 – Today we depend upon leadership but the early church had no schools or seminaries. The men that God chose were considered unlearned, due to the fact that none of them had graduated from the approved Rabbinical Schools of their times. How?
Acts 4:13 - Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

3 – Today we have budgets and financial demands but the early church had nothing due to the fact that most of them were literally broke. The early church was not bound by financial boards or budgets, but look at what they accomplished with so little money or means. How?
Acts 3:6 - Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

4 – Today our churches seek popularity and we desire to be politically correct, but the early church was looked down upon and hated by the political overseers of their times. The early church was imprisoned, beaten; some were literally killed, but look at what they accomplished in the midst of so much political upheaval and hatred. How?

Acts 4:1-7 : And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put [them] in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?"

Acts 4:15-18 : "But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them [is] manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny [it]. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus."

Acts 4:21 : "So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all [men] glorified God for that which was done."

Acts 5:40-42 : "And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten [them], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."

5 – The early church did not have any type of organized church building to go too on a regular basis. The people were not beckoned to a building with a steeple on top of it, they did not have stain glassed windows with commemorative labels identifying the person that bought them.
The early church did not argue over carpet colors or pews; they did not have any of these luxuries. It seems that we think church is about the building, church is about holy pieces of furniture. Today most churches major on its past history and the world is dying and going to hell.
The lost sinner don’t care who paid for the pews, the stained glass windows, the pulpit, they need Jesus and it’s not about our history or our buildings.

The early church was not bound by tradition, they didn’t have any tradition. The early church did not have to vote on which item was deemed holy and could never be replaced because grandpa or grandma had purchased it. The early church accomplished so much, but they didn’t even have a modern day church building to attend. How? Acts 5:40-42.

Acts 16:15 : "And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought [us], saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide [there]. And she constrained us."

Acts 16:32 : "And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house."

Acts 18:7 : "And he departed thence, and entered into a certain [man's] house, named Justus, [one] that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue."

1 Corinthians 16:15 : "I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and [that] they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)..."

Philippians 1:2 : "And to [our] beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:..."

Question: Why, was the early church able to do accomplish so much with so little? The early church had no kind of formal organization, any formal training or education, nor did they have budgets, they were outcast politically, they had no traditional church building, but they accomplished so much. How did they accomplish so much with so little? The early church focused on prayer, their lack led them to prayer. I’m confident that we are misguided by leaning on our own intellect and resources when we face problems or resistance. The early church was instructed by Jesus Christ personally before his ascension, but they were instructed by his Spirit prayerfully after his ascension. The ascension of Christ was the basis for their prayer. Upon seeing his ascension the early church still needed his leading and guidance and the only way to achieve this was through persistent prayer.

The Secret of their Power was Prayer “Unseen”

The Source of their Power was Prayer “Unstoppable”

The early church did not know about organized church, but they knew prayer. The early church did not have time for formal educational training, but they had time for prayer. The early church did not have lots of money or millionaires, but they had the backing of God through prayer.
Philippians 4:19: "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

The fundamental focus of the early church was, “The Word of God”, “The Spirit of God”, and “Time in Prayer to God”. In the book of Acts we find over 30 occasions where the church was involved in prayer. The early Christians were humbled by their lack, but were empowered by prayer. It would benefit us to learn humility and turn to prayer. In our modern day society most Christians would place the emphasis upon preaching, but the early church placed the emphasis upon prayer. The apostles were men given to prayer. Peter was a man of much prayer, Paul was a man given to prayer. If they were successful it would be due to prayer, if they failed it would be due to prayer.

Point to Ponder: 2 Timothy 3:5: "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." It seems that we have patented this verse in our modern age. The church machine is turning and churning, but nothing is being produced. Lot’s of activity but not much ministry or productivity. It is sad to see that most of the glory goes to man and very little is attributed to God. It seems that most churches think they cannot function without a specific man or program, but the early church could not function without prayer or God.

We have geared our preaching to please man. The choir is assembled to appease the fleshly appetites of carnality. When it comes to ministry, it seems that tradition rules, and majority reigns. We cannot say “silver and gold have I none”, nor can we say to the sinner “In The Name of Jesus, Rise up and Walk”!

It seems to me that we have lost our emphasis, misplaced our urgency, and doused our fervency. How can we preach without prayer, plan without prayer, sing without prayer, function without prayer? We have seen the prophetic fulfillment of II Timothy 3: 5 and our society is paying the price for a prayerless, powerless, and purposeless church. It is our job to have the answer not to have an angle for personal benefit or glory. The early church witnessed the ascension of Christ and it prompted them to prayer. The church witnessed him leaving but they also heard the angels he would also return one day.  Acts 1:9: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."

The Ascension “Perplexed their Souls”

The Ascension “Prompted their Service”

The Ascension "Preempted their Success"

Upon seeing the Lord’s ascension, the disciples ultimately understood their destiny and decided to prayerfully fulfill God’s plan. The ascension of Christ inspired this group to turn the world upside down, for Christ. Ephesians 1:18-23: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Paul wanted the church to realize that Christ has positioned himself in a high and holy place. He is sitting at the fathers right hand and is worthy of all praise and honor. In understanding this, the church must realize the power that we have through Jesus Christ."

I. The Church & Her Authority “Our Divine Mandate”

Mat 28:18-20 - "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen."

Christ had authority to teach like nobody had ever taught before he came upon the scene. He also had authority to heal people, to cast out demons, to raise the dead; and ultimately to forgive sins. Jesus Christ is no longer here in his physical body, he is sitting beside God in his glorified body. As the church of God, he works through us as his spiritual body, thus we have his authorized authority. The same power that he displayed has been entrusted to us, so we can continue his work.

II. The Church & Her Ministry “Our Divine Message”

Mar 16:19-20 "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with [them], and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

It is our ministry to reach the world with the gospel message. God entrusted us to carry out the good news to all mankind. It is a wonderful thing, to have God trust us, enough to spread his wonderful news, the news of his son’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Christ worked for us on Calvary “His Death”

Christ works in us by his Spirit “His Dwelling”

Christ works through us when we pray and obey him “His Dealings”

III. The Church & Her Energy “Our Divine Motivation”

A) The Promise

Luke 24:49-50: "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them." 

B) The Parting

Luke 24:51-52: "And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:"

C) The Plan

Luke 24:53: "And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." In this text we find some distinct findings about the aftermath of his ascension.

Christ raised his hands and blessed them

Christ then ascended into heaven

The apostles worshipped him

The crowd then returned to Jerusalem with great joy

They continually went to the temple

We find them praising and blessing God

D) The Power

The early church would then wait upon his promise, the divine promise of his Holy Spirit. The churches authority, her ministry, and her energy are all based upon his wondrous ascension.

The energy of God’s church comes through prayer. The early church was energized by divine deliberate prayer. The early church was plugged into heaven through prayer. The church was connected to heaven through the process of prayer.

Acts 1:4: "And, being assembled together with [them], commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, [saith he], ye have heard of me."

Acts 1:14" "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

The early church not only believed in personal prayer, they believed in corporate and collective praying. It should be incorporated into our modern day agenda, corporate praying. When God’s people are moved to pray, God himself is moved by this praying. It is high time we get back to fully relying on God to empower our churches, and this can only happen when his people unite and pray.


In the end Dorothy made it back home to Kansas and to the things that afforded her comfort and stability. The church will one day also make it home and in the end we will be afforded the same peace and comfort that Dorothy found in “The Wizard of Oz”. We may have to face the unknown and fight the wicked witches of this world, but ultimately prayer will get us to where we will achieve success and satisfaction.
Prayer offers us the only familiarity that we from the days that Jesus walked upon the earth. Jesus was a man of prayer and he showed us over and over that he was man of prayer. The early church understood the importance of praying and we need to do the same.