How to Survive and Thrive... consider a place by the river. What?
I'm askin - do ya have a place of prayer?
"Yeah, I do," she said, "at my kitchen table, every morning."
"Yeah, I do," he said. "I pray with a bunch of guys-my brothers--people I trust."
Well, which is it? Is a place of prayer the place you privately pray or is it the place you go when you have cares - great or small - to be surrounded by people of faith who will hold you close and pray with you?
Yes. It is one and it is the other. It is both.
First, our text from Acts chapter 16:
We left the missionary team of Paul, Silas, and Timothy heading into Europe with the gospel message of Jesus Christ--this is effectively Paul's
second missionary journey. Luke adds some notes to what feels like a travel log, "From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia1. And we stayed there several days.2 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.
We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us."3
There are several things that call to me from these verses, but mostly this,
-->The guys went out, expecting to find a PLACE OF PRAYER . . .
Their expectation really speaks to me. In this case, the ladies lacked a quorum, (at least 10 adult Jewish men), ergo. . . no synagogue, the place where Paul would usually go first to preach. The faithful had to meet under the open sky near a river or sea. And so they did.
A place of prayer. How does that translate today, how does it translate to you and me? On my weekly conference call prayer meeting with my corporate guys. it is not uncommon for one of the brothers to message ahead of time, 'can't be on the call, in a meeting; but can you guys pray for me for ____'? Why? Because we are his place of prayer.
One of the great things about life in our tech-savvy world is that folks can get prayer needs out to many people at one time in lightning speed! [Do yourself a mental favor - stop and make note of the many great things about the time in which we live! it will do you good] So, literal armies of prayer warriors are pressed into service at warp speed to pray about real-time concerns! I am convinced this has been responsible for my friend Carol who has been battling Covid in ICU, coming off the ventilator as she did and healing as she is! It is true--we modern-day Lydias can create places of prayer on social media - a really great use of what often feels like a nuisance.
Now, why did the corporate brother ask for prayer from his brothers on the conference call? He knows we are a place of prayer.
Lydia and the gals on the banks of the river represented a place and a people of prayer, a marriage of the two. On a corporate conference call prayer meeting, the marriage of mechanism and people. An intersection of faith, hope, and context.
Life is not easy. And I do not know about you, but I do not want just to survive life today in this continuing trying time, I want to thrive! We need God ... and to access him, we need to pray, we need to talk to him. Actually sometimes, depending on the severity of our need, we need to cry out to him! There is no other way. And we need people of Christian faith alongside us, who believe along with us and are willing to contend for us in prayer. Not surviving, but thriving!
Do not do this thing called 'life' alone. In Georgia, are you? Find a place of prayer! Living in East Jerusalem? You must find other followers of Yeshua and pray! In California? Contend for faith and freedom on your knees.
And from across our globe, to 146 countries, may I ask you 'do ya have a place you can pray, gather your wits about you and talk to God?' You must get intentional. Create a place. Pray. And ... also find a place, a community of faith-filled folk who will pray with and for you, won't you? We must thrive, not merely survive.
So come on, God . . . do it again! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B_lnQIITxU
Get intentional about prayer,
1 - which includes parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia
2 - The ruins of Philippi are near modern Kavalla in northern Greece. It was then a city of Macedonia founded by Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. A Roman colony and military centre, governed directly from Rome, Philippi was situated on the Via Egnatian, the highway running east and west linking Rome to Byzantium (Istanbul) 'Too much detail? For me, I like to know how the ancient translates to the modern-day map
3 - Acts 16.12-15