Let me begin by saying there are many styles of prayer to God, in the name of Jesus. Utmost priority should be given to prayer in the various manners. Specifically, I will address corporate prayer as it is displayed to us in Acts 4.
Acts 4:23-37, NKJV
And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: “Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
1. The occasion of their corporate prayer
Peter and John had been arrested, imprisoned, and questioned about their ministry and the healing of the lame man. At the start of the New Testament church, and continued on to today, people despise supernatural ministry that proclaims Christ. Upon their release from prison, Peter and John gathered together with other believers to engage in corporate prayer. The urgency of the hour had gripped their souls. Reality of the government’s opposition was upon them. A great revival was sweeping the land, but it came with a great price. Intercession was the birthing place to this revival, and it was what would carry the work of God onward.
2. They raised their voice to God
Passion and urgency in the dimension of faith result in a heart ablaze for God. Out of the abundance of a heart on fire, does the mouth pour forth prayers and worship with great fervency. The believers in Acts 4 were not praying weak or half-hearted prayers, but corporately, a passionately vocal prayer that increased their faith and set them on a path towards breakthrough. Even as their mouth proclaimed the excellency and power of God, their path was being laid out before them. There are times in which we silently wait corporately in the presence of God, but often God uses the passionate vocalizations of the innermost desires and meditations of our heart to work out His plans and purposes, as well as reveal to us the depths of what He has deposited in us.
3. In harmony
Truly, unity of many people is a work of the Holy Spirit. Even unity of two in marriage takes divine enabling and determination. To watch this corporate prayer meeting in Acts 4 unfold, is watching the divine communicator and orchestrator supernaturally move and lead people to a place of unified, passionately vocalized prayer. Psalms 133 tells us commanded blessings flow on those who operate in unity. Unified prayer and passion was not unfamiliar to this early church. This had been the context of the outpouring on the Day of Pentecost, and would be the atmosphere of subsequent outpourings in the days ahead. It was the attitude of supernatural fellowship and partnership that permeated every aspect of their lives; and thus, a time of corporate prayer would display the same attribute. Someone walking in unity with God cannot cause strife in God’s church.
4. The context of their corporate prayer
It is interesting that Luke recorded the prayer of the believers at this gathering. Notice they began by declaring who God is. They honored him in His creative power and His ability to vindicate His people. They prayed according to what they had seen and experienced. They spoke of God’s sovereign hand and the signs and wonders He had performed. They prayed the Scriptures. Many times our prayers remind us of whom God is, as much as they honor Him as we pray. The ingredients of a Spirit-led, passionate prayer include a mixture of acknowledging who God is, our experiences, and the Word of God. This model of prayer reminds of Jesus’ prayer as He taught the disciples how to pray: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.”
5. The result
Notice, God did not take away the persecution. As a matter of fact, it’s only days later that the persecution greatly intensifies. The conflicts generated with an influx of believers did not go away either. Again, just a chapter over we find the difficulties increasing with the rapid growth. What was God’s response? “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” The Holy Spirit, our Helper, is the best answer to any prayer. David placed a priority on the presence of God when He said, “Do not take your Holy Spirit from me.” We would oftentimes love for the environment or people around us to change; however, God many times sends the Helper to walk and wrestle with us through the situation. The Holy Spirit always proclaims the Word of God. He reminds us of all God has said. In our weakness, Paul says in Romans 8, the Holy Spirit works on our behalf. No matter the circumstance, He causes us to meditate on and speak those things of the Word, which have been deposited into us. The result of corporate prayer time: A body that flows together in unity under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the Word of God with boldness and demonstration of power, and together, they live generous lives.