Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
On numerous occasions I have shared with you the importance of prayer. As I will soon be concluding my ministry with you and IBCZ enters a time of transition, I was to emphasize this again. Of course, this is not the first time a church has faced a time of transition. One powerful example of the importance of prayer for such times is found in Acts. 10.
The church began as a movement within Judaism, but then spread to the non-Jewish (Gentile) world. What was the key event that allowed the Christian faith to move beyond the Jewish people to include the Gentiles also?
Surprisingly, it was simply two men at prayer – one a Jew and the other a Gentile. They were not praying together and had never met each other until God supernaturally brought them together.
Acts 10:1-8 introduces us to Cornelius, a Gentile and a soldier in the Roman army. Roman was a pagan empire, and the army was especially pagan, but somehow Cornelius knew that there is one true God, and he “prayed to God regularly” (Vs. 2). The passage goes on to say that at three in the afternoon, which was the time of prayer, God gave him a vision. God instructed Cornelius to send men to bring back a man named Simon (Peter). Cornelius didn’t even know who this wasand didn’t know Peter was an apostle of Jesus.
The next day Simon Peter was at prayer (vs. 9). God showed a vision of a sheet lowered from heaven with what the Jews regarded as unclean animals. A voice told him to kill and eat, but Peter refused for they were impure. This was repeated 3 times, and then the men sent from Cornelius arrived.
The result was the next day Peter went to the home of Cornelius, who told him of his vision. Then Peter knew God was opening the door to the Gentiles to come to faith. He preached, and the Jewish followers of Jesus with Peter were amazed that the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles.
Cornelius prayed regularly. Peter was at prayer when he had his vision. And God did an incredible thing – breaking down the cultural division between Jews and Gentiles and launching the movement of the church into the Gentile world of which we are a part. As pastor Mark Batterson has written, “When you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.”
Prayer is sometimes challenging, but it is powerful. God works through our prayers, even in ways that surprise us. Only God knows what He has in store for IBCZ. We can be sure that it will be good. And we can be sure that prayer will be essential to both understanding that and seeing God’s good will for IBCZ come to pass. So let me encourage you to pray, and pray fervently in the weeks and months ahead, being confident that through our prayers God will direct us into the fullness of His will.
Grace and peace,
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