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The Scriptorium

Borrowed Blessings

Prayer is indispensable. Acts 4.22-28

No Other Name: Acts 4 (5)

Pray Psalm 146.5-7, 10.
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners…
The LORD shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!

Sing Psalm 146.5-7, 10.
(Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Blessed are they whose hope resides in the Lord, Christ at His side.
By Him heav’n and earth abide – God forever reigns in Zion!

He is faithful evermore; He gives justice to the poor,
feeds the hungry from His store – God forever reigns in Zion!

Read Acts 4.1-28; meditate on verses 23-28.

Preparation

1. How did the people respond to the threat from the religious leaders?

2. What did they ask God to do?

Meditation
People in ancient Israel prayed the Psalms, using them to guide daily devotions and corporate worship. Here we see the new Christian community doing the same. The Jews may have hated them, but that was no reason for the believers to forfeit a bona fide blessing God had provided.

Here, the believing community borrowed from Psalm 146 (v. 24) and Psalm 2 (vv. 25, 26) to guide their prayer. This spontaneous, unison praying could happen because these people regarded the Psalms as their prayer book. God had given these scripts, and the people had prayed them all their lives. Start anywhere, and most folks could join in. As if someone in your group stared singing, Amazing grace, how sweet the sound… You’d know it and join in, right?

Praying the psalms was relevant (v. 27). Praying the psalms assuaged their fears. Praying the psalms united their intentions and focus. Praying the psalms stiffened their resolve and gave them confidence. We don’t know how to pray as we should (Rom. 8.26). God knows how we should pray. If you were asked to audition for a performance of Hamlet, you’d be sure to follow the script. You wouldn’t just start babbling on, thinking that your own words would be good enough to persuade the director of your skills. If you want to talk with God, get a script He’s prepared and learn to use it well. He’s written 150 for your convenience.

This passage reminds us that prayer is indispensable to the ongoing work of Christ. Joshua and Israel sinned in the matter of the Gibeonites because they failed to seek the Lord before entering a covenant with them (Josh. 9). The apostles, filled with the Spirit, would not make the same mistake, nor should we. Prayer is the go-to place for everything we are called to do in the ongoing work of Christ.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Prayer is indispensable…”
Like breathing.  We cannot live without it, and we are commanded to do it without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17; Eph. 6.18).

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Lk. 11.1). So He did (Lk. 11.2-4; Matt. 6.6-13).
Then He showed them how to pray. (Mk.14.32-39): “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mk. 14.36).

That is exactly how the disciples prayed on this occasion: “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” (Acts 4.27, 28).

“Your will be done.”

And prayer is a discipline. We cannot live without it in this form either.
Here is where the use of the scripted prayers from God are so useful:
“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (Ps. 55.17).
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26.41).
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” (Phil. 4.6).

To God, our discipline of communicating with Him is like “golden bowls of incense…the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5.8).

Singing hymns is another way to commune with God. (Acts 16.25; Eph. 5.18-21)
This hymn implores the Lord to fill us with His Spirit, help us do His will faithfully to the end, allow us to glow with His life and light, and to ultimately take us home to be with Him eternally. More borrowed blessings:

Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,
that I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with Thine, to do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly Thine,
until this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God, So shall I never die,
but live with Thee the perfect life of Thine eternity.

(Edwin Hatch, 1878/Robert Jackson,1888)

For reflection

1. Do think learning to pray the psalms could enhance your prayer life? Explain.

2. What are some other examples of “borrowed blessings” God has provided for us in serving Him?

3. There is strength in believers praying together. Are you part of a prayer group? Could you start your own prayer group, using psalms to guide you?

These [are the] voices of the church from which every church had its origin; these are the voices of the metropolis of the citizens of the new covenant; these are the voices of the apostles; these are voices of the disciples of the Lord, the truly perfect, who, after the assumption of the Lord, were perfected by the Spirit, and called on the God who made heaven and earth and the sea… Irenaeus of Lyons (135-202), Against Heresies 3.12.5

Pray Psalm 146.1-4, 8-10.
What are you facing today? Give it all to the Lord. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit, to watch over all your ways, and to strengthen you to serve Him for His glory.

Sing Psalm 146.1-4, 8-10.
(Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Praise the Lord, my soul, give praise! While I live, His Name I’ll raise!
And exalt Him all my days – God forever reigns in Zion!

Trust we not in prince or man – no salvation’s in their hand.
Death shall take them, breath and plans – God forever reigns in Zion!

Jesus sets the pris’ner free, heals blind eyes that they may see,
lifts those burdened painfully – God forever reigns in Zion!

He the righteous loves the best; wand’rers in His grace are blessed;
needy ones in Him find rest – God forever reigns in Zion!

But the wicked who defame His eternal blessèd Name,
them He brings to ruin and shame – God forever reigns in Zion!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. For more about what Jesus is doing at the right hand of God, order a free copy of our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? (click here).

You can download any or all of the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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