Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Sept 13, 2015 Sermon

“Hands that Pray”
Acts 4:23 – 41
Ted Jansen September 13, 2005  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        What do hands do for us?  What do hands do for others?  What do hands do for God?  What do God’s hands do?  Those are questions I want you to consider. 
            We are looking at a series of sermons on “Hands.”  Hands that pray, serve and give.  Hands. How have we used our hands today for others, God, for our lives?  
 
2.)        In Acts 3, after the day of Pentecost that is described in Acts 2, Peter and John were going to the Temple.  They met a lame man and healed him. We will spend time looking into this healing next week.    
This healing caused quite a commotion and an uproar.  The crowds and people were amazed and the religious leaders were upset and I am sure amazed as well. 
The religious leaders decide to bring Peter and John in to talk about what had happened to this man and the healing.  The leaders don’t really understand any of it and what to do with Peter and John.  They have Peter and John put in a prison overnight as they talk among themselves. 
At some point they realize that they cannot hold them in prison indefinitely.  We read these words.  “Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”  (Acts 4:18) 
After these words the scripture tells us that Peter and John told them that they could do anything but speak of what they had seen and heard.      
            It is important to understand what had just happened as it shapes our understanding of the scripture we are looking at today.  A healing occurred, Peter and John are put in prison overnight and told not to teach or speak in the name of Jesus. 
 
3.)        The religious leaders wanted to stop what might continue.  They wanted to use their hands to control something that they did not understand or want happening.    
            You can use your hands to try and stop people or things from happening.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. 
There are times when you need to stop things from happening.  Let’s say you are directing traffic and you see two cars headed in the same direction.  You want to be bold and tell one or both of them to stop.  That is one way to use your hands to communicate a stop!     
            Do you think the religious leaders were concerned about safety?  Why did they want Peter and John to stop?   I believe they did not understand what happened and did not want the name of Jesus or His followers disrupting life.    
            When you sense a need to use your hands to “stop” something be aware of the reason for doing so.   
 
4.)        So Peter and John find the other disciples and upon hearing what all has happened they decide to use their voices to pray.   There is not a reference to their hands being joined together, but it does say that their voices were together.  I can picture their hands being raised, being held by each other, or in some prayer posture.  I invite you to picture hands in prayer.     
            They pray all together they decide that they are not going to listen to the command of the religious leaders.  They are not going to “stop” using the name of Jesus.  They pray that God would give them boldness.  They prayed and they use a phrase that caught my attention.  They pray that God would stretch out His hand to continue to do miracles, healing, and wonderful things, in the name of Jesus Christ.
            This prayer reveals their desire for the hand of God to be stretched out.  This is definitely not what the religious leaders had in mind when they let Peter and John go.  They wanted a “stop” and the disciples prayed for a “release” of God’s work in Christ’s name.    
             
5.)        I believe that we can use our hands to release the power of Christ as we pray in His name.  The scripture gives insights into the practice of laying hands on people for prayer.   
I read an article in a Dictionary of Theology on laying on of hands and the article mentioned four different ways that scripture mentions this practice.  Those four are prayers for: Blessing, Healing, Empowerment and Ordination.  
            Consider how you can use your hands to pray as you lay hands on someone. 
 
6.)        Blessing.  These are prayers that we ask God to bring a person joy, grace, hope, love, peace.  Blessing prayers are mentioned in the Old Testament.  Jesus would bless the children by laying hands on them.  You can pray for blessing as a gift of God’s love to a person.    
            There are times when we need to bless one another.  My sense is that we don’t hear blessing enough in our lives.  Some of us never heard much blessing in our lives as children and we have struggled with this all our lives.  We were in relationships that were not a blessing to us and we need hear blessing.  These prayers can be powerful.  (Mark 10:13)      
            Healing.  These are prayers for those with physical, emotional, spiritual needs.  We lay hands on someone and can anoint with oil as we pray for healing.  We pray for healing of body, mind, soul, spirit in the name of Jesus.  James talks about this.  We need to be willing to pray more for people.  It is not based on my understanding or the “results.”  We pray for healing. (Mark 1:41)    
            Empowerment. These are prayers when we ask that God’s Holy Spirit to fill and dwell within.  When someone has a desire for to yield their lives anew, afresh, and surrender to God’s will power can come.  We pray that God would use person’s skill, ability and desire to further the work of Jesus Christ in whatever way.  We see this in the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit came to people or families.   (Act 8:14 – 17)      
            Ordination.   These are prayers taught by Paul to Timothy about the ministry.   Christian traditions differ on this and what is required, etc.  I look at this type of prayer as a way of praying for people who desire to serve in ministry.  We read in Acts about some who were set aside to help with the food ministry and they were prayed for. (Acts 6:6)  
 
7.)        Consider the four ways that laying on of hands are used in prayer.  As we prayed and laid our hands on the Mission Team this morning consider the four different aspects.     
            We prayed for blessing for each one and for the team.  We prayed for healing personally so that all are well and able to serve.  We prayed that the Holy Spirit would fill them and use their gifts and abilities.  We prayed for the ministry of serving others in Kentucky.     
            Let us consider in our hearts and minds all that serve and ways that we can pray for people who serve as volunteers in the Food Bank, those who serve a community meal, those who teach, are on the Prayer Network, and all those who volunteer.  
 
8.)        The disciples used their hands and voices for prayer.  The scripture tells us this.  “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”   (Acts 4:31) 
            Who did the shaking?  God shook that place.  That is a great metaphor as we think about God using His hands to shake that place.  A God shaking can be God moment, an answer to prayer something that happens that cannot be explained in any other way. 
            May the Lord move His hand and cause some shaking in our lives, our families, and our congregation.             
 
9.)        You each have a hand this morning.  It will symbolize something different each week.  This week I invite you to consider if you are “releasing” God’s work by using your hands for prayer.
            My challenge this week is to lay hands on someone and pray for them.  Pray for a blessing for someone.  Pray for a need for healing.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to come into their lives.  Pray for a ministry that a person is doing. 
            Use your hands in prayer this week!  Watch and see God bring a “shaking” to someone, perhaps even yourself.    
 
10.)      We are all going to practice using our hands to pray.  I am asking you to pray a prayer of blessing for the person you are next to or near.  I ask that you get to them and take turns and lay your hands on their shoulder and pray a simple prayer. Find out their name if you don’t know it before you pray. 
Lord, I pray that you bless ______ today.  In Jesus name.  Amen.  If you want to add more to the blessing than that can, but keep it simple.  The important thing is to practice a simple prayer of blessing with sincerity.     
 
 
 
Mission Team Prayer
 
Lord we pray your blessing on this team.  May they know that they are loved by God.  We pray for healing of their lives and allow them to physically, emotionally, and spiritually be prepared for this time.  We pray that the Holy Spirit would fill them and empower them to live as a servant of God.  We pray that you would use the team in ministry together for the people in the Henderson Settlement region.   Hear us as we share the Lord’s Prayer together.  Our Father…