A first century doctor provides a case study on prayer in the book of Acts. Luke also served as a historian, traveling along side of the apostle Paul to document each missionary journey. In the chapter below, Luke interviews a man named Cornelius and Peter about a special God instance. Before meeting one another, each man prayed to God within a 24 hour period. What takes place in the passage below illustrates how praying can direct your life.
About the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had come to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius was frightened and stared intently at him and said, “What is it, lord (sir)?” And the angel said to him, “Your prayers and gifts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God [an offering made in remembrance of His past blessings], Acts 10:3-4.
A centurion from an Italian Regiment is described as God fearing. This reverence for God resulted in a devout faith; becoming a family man. Cornelius earned a reputation for being a charitable man, giving donations to Jews and known as a prayer warrior. Apparently, praying in the afternoon was a daily habit, resulting in a vision involving an angel from God. This encounter results in a series of directions which Cornelius acts upon and follows.
The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, 12 and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” – Acts 10:9-13.
Meanwhile, 21 hours later God begins to move within Peter as he prays to the Lord. During a conversation with Luke, Peter describes his experience to a trance. The hunger within his stomach sets the stage for a teachable moment for Peter. Initially, Peter rejects God’s message which is contrary to the law of Moses. However, after God repeats himself a second time, Peter agrees to be open to this new teaching. Thus, prayer gave a non-Jew in Cornelius hope while changing the heart of Peter to accept future Gentiles, non Jews. If God can speak to two praying individuals, then image what God can do when communities pour their hearts out to God in prayer.
by Jay Mankus