Rev. Kaloma Smith, Senior Pastor of University AME Zion in Palo Alto, examines wisdom from Acts 12 for times when pressure is on the rise.
“As we face our sixth month of dealing with challenges of this pandemic, there is a significant amount of pressure in the world. We’re watching companies fall to bankruptcies. We listen to parents and school districts try to figure out the school year. We see organizations and governmental structures facing the same challenges. Our structures are under pressure, medical systems under pressure – there’s so much going. The church of God is under pressure. How do you maintain community, how do you maintain a broadcast, when you haven’t really seen people in six months? How do you do all the stuff that you wanted to do before – but you can’t do it right now?
How do we respond properly to all of these pressures?
In Acts, the church is facing a challenge it’s never faced before. What does the church do when it’s under pressure?
We must stand.
We must discern.
We must pray.
When Stephen was stoned, the church dispersed; they ran. But something happens. This time, the church decides to stand right where it is. The church was in significant danger. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is to stop and stand, when God is calling.
James was killed, Peter was in prison. The early church had firsthand experience with resurrection. But the church was able to discern what the right prayer was during that season. Some of us are praying for dead things that God is not going to bring back, instead of discerning what we’re supposed to pray on. God isn’t interested in resuscitating the past, he’s interested in rescuing the future.
We’ve made the concept of prayer as simple as “thoughts.” A thought is internal – cognitive ability, how I feel. We’ve tied the idea of prayer to “thoughts.” We’ve taken communication with the Divine, with the God of heaven and earth, and boiled it down to human thoughts! We devalue our greatest tool, strongest form of communication – all that we are. Prayer shifts the reality we’re living in. Prayer is the way we connect with God who created the very earth. God designed us to pray in this season, to pray without ceasing. We have to reclaim the power of prayer.
The correct response to pressure starts with prayer.”
Watch the sermon in its entirety:
Featured image courtesy Luis Villasmil on Unsplash.