By Bishop A.B. Vines
The Apostles state in Acts 6:4, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Now look at verse 7. It states, “So the word of God spread, the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number.”
Wow, church growth 101!
Acts 6:4 and 6:7 teach the Lord will grow real disciple-making churches when leaders focus in two main areas; prayer, and the study of God’s word!
They also imply three things in my observation; intentionality, instruction, and increase.
First, pay close attention to the word “devote ourselves,” or as other translations translate proskarterēsomen, “continually.” It means to continue steadfastly; to persevere; to continue on and on, sticking to it.
The pastor is to pray and pray and share and share, preaching and teaching the Word–without letting up. He is to be steadfast, persevering, continuing on and on in both prayer and studying the Word. This shows the intentional focus of the pastor.
“I know what you are saying, AB, but do you know all the emails, texts messages, phone calls, appointments, meeting and visitations I do every day?”
Yes, I do! Don’t forget I am one of you! I am not trying to say you are not B.U.S.Y. (Being Under Situational Yokes), but I am saying that by intentionally prioritizing prayer and study, you will not be so easily distracted by other situations.
Second, let’s notice that verse 5a states, “This proposal pleased the whole company.” Consider how pleased the people are by this plan, why? Because now they have explicit instruction on the work of the leaders.
The Apostles taught them the importance of their two primary ministry responsibilities; prayer, and the study of the Word.
“Okay, AB, how?”
Well, this is what I do. I build daily and weekly prayer and study time into my schedule with my staff. They know the times and days when it’s “hands off the pastor.” They know I am in study and prayer and understand why it’s essential.
I also taught our church Acts 6:4 in a series of messages about the importance of my time with the Lord in these areas. So, they now appreciate and honor these times in my weekly schedule.
You see, the prophet Samuel said as much in 1 Samuel 12:23. He declared, “As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way.”
When you teach them this “right way,” it releases YOU to do what only YOU can do, so YOU can effectively do what the Lord called YOU to do.
As we shift back to Acts 6, we observe the effect of this teaching in verse 7. It declares, “So the word of God spread, the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.”
Say what?! You mean when the people of God do what they are supposed to do and the leaders do what they are supposed to do the Lord will bless His church?
Yes, sir! Check this out, imagine what a difference there would be if pastor lived this out daily!When you teach your church the importance of you on your face before God in prayer and His Word, it will change your ministry.Now, let me give you a loving warning. You have to pray and study the Word of God! This is NOT another goof off time! NO! It’s a real crying out before the LORD time!
When you teach your church the importance of you on your face before God in prayer and His Word, it will change your ministry.
Listen, they will let you do it.
“Okay Vines, now how do I go about this, practically?”
Well, here is my suggestion: Develop a prayer list that you carry with you every day, wherever you go. Write on it prayer prompts and the names of the disciples in your church.
Friends, the average church is 200 members or less. If you were to list all those names, you could pray through the whole list in 3 hours if you give each name a minute!
Now you know that when you start calling out that list before the Lord, you will find yourself praying more than a minute each, but it’s at least a focused set amount of time.
That may not work for the larger churches. If that’s you, try something else. Carry around a list of all the new members of your church and let that be your prayer time before the Lord. I mean think about who needs more prayer than a new believer in the faith?
Finally, it’s so cool when the Holy Spirit prompts me to pray about something off the script. I often find out later that the person I was praying for was going through exactly what I prayed for—BOOM!
You talk about being pumped about prayer! He still speaks and responds when we cry out to him on behalf of our people! So, PRAY!
PS, if you would like my Scripture prayer prompts email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
DR. A.B. VINES (@DrABVines) has been the pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego for the past 13 years and was elected first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the 2018 Annual Meeting. In addition, Vines currently serves as president of the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) and is a trustee at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He is the husband to Karen, father of four, and “PaPa” to nine.