Text: Acts 3:1-16
Summary: By looking at the healing of the man lame from birth at the Beautiful Gate, God has much to teach us about our posture when we pray, the priority during prayer, and the purpose of prayer.
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico 11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Father, we turn our attention to you. We turn our hearts to you. And we ask that you would teach us how to pray, teach us the posture when we pray, teach us the priorities during our prayers, and teach us the purpose of prayer. We pray that you would teach us during this time. I give you this time. Jesus, we ask you to meet us, to shepherd us, and to teach us. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
There are 3 P’s of prayer. The first is the posture when we pray. Second is the priority during our prayers. And third is the purpose of our prayers, the purpose of prayer in general. The posture when we pray, the priority during our prayers, and the purpose of prayer.
Before I get into the three P’s, I have another set of P’s. It says in Acts 3:12, that when Peter saw the people turning their attention to Peter and John and clinging to them, when Peter saw this, he addressed the people. Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this or why do you stare at us as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? And so Peter is very clear, that it is not his power. It’s not because of his piety, but it’s because of the presence of the Lord Jesus. That is why this person is walking.
And I don’t have many spectacular gifts. I’m fairly ordinary. It may seem presumptuous, I’m talking about people with gifting of a supernatural nature. But Peter is telling us clearly that even if you have a spectacular gift, like healing, word of knowledge, prophecy, things that are very impressive in the eyes of people, even if you have these things, it’s not about the person’s gift. It’s not about the person. It is not their power. It is not because God is endowed them with such power, although that’s true. It’s not about their power. It’s not also the fact that they’ve been so diligently reading the Scripture, going to the temple to pray. It is not because of their piety. These are not the reasons why this person walked. It is because of the presence of the Lord Jesus.
And just as a explanation, and to set the stage, and we’ll get into the three P’s of prayer in a bit. How does healing work? Is it about the person’s gift? Obviously not. A spiritual gift of healing is not a superpower. We’re not talking about Marvel superheroes here, because if it were so, if there was such a thing as, it’s about my gift and because I am gifted, why not just go to the hospitals? Why not just empty all the hospitals because I can exercise my gift whenever I want it, and I feel like today, I want people who are lame, and sick in their hospital bed, and I just want to visit my local hospital, I want to empty it out because I want to exercise my gift? It doesn’t work that way.
We get some clues as we read the Gospels. That Jesus in his hometown, we read about in Luke 4, that He perceives the heart of the people. And Jesus is just a traveling circus show to them. And the people ask, they haven’t vocalized but Jesus perceives their heart, and Jesus puts into words what they have in their heart. And He says, you just want me to repeat the miracles that I did a Capernaum. To you, I’m just a magician. You just want me to repeat the miracles, more healings, more deliverance. That’s what I see in your hearts.
And Jesus cites the fact that in the Old Testament, during a time of famine for three and a half years when the rains were were shut up in the heavens, that there were many widows who were starving. There were many hungry people throughout the nation of Israel, many women widows, in particular, he mentions. But there was only one person, there’s only one widow that He sent Elijah, a prophet. And God met that widow and supplied their needs and miraculously, multiplied the bread and oil. Out of many widows, there was only one person who was visited by the Lord during that time of three and a half years.
And then he repeats, in the times of Elijah the prophet, there were many lepers in the nation of Israel, but there was only one person named Naaman, who was from Syria, and Jesus comes and meets him. So Jesus can heal anybody at any time. But there are certain people that He visits. And it’s according to His will. We don’t understand the purposes of God, but there’s a certain reason why He saw in the widow’s heart at Zarephath, that particular widow, He wanted to visit her and wanted to heal and supply her needs during the three and a half years. And Elijah stayed there during the three and a half years. He didn’t do a ministry to anybody else, he just stayed in that one widow’s home. The same with Elijah the prophet in his day, there were many lepers but there’s only one leper. And there’s a reason why, and we don’t understand all the reasons, but there’s a reason why Jesus visited him through Elijah the prophet, and healed his leprosy.
If you read on in Luke 4, Jesus is still in Capernaum. He visits Simon’s house. His mother in law is sick. And Jesus decides to heal Peter’s mother in law and the fever leaves her instantly. And presumably the word is spreading, and Simon is inviting everyone that he knows to come to his house, Jesus is there. And every one that Jesus laid his hands upon, every single one of them was healed.
In Mark 8, Jesus heals a man at Bethsaida. And he sends him home. And he leaves him a very interesting last command. He says, do not even enter the village of Bethsaida. We read in Matthew 11 that Jesus is denouncing three cities. He says Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. And his point is that many mighty works were done in Chorazin, many mighty works were done in Bethsaida, many mighty works were done in Capernaum. But he cites that there was one thing that is lacking. After the mighty works were done, there was no repentance.
And so what is the point of Jesus performing mighty works of healing and deliverance if there is no repentance? Is there any point? If there’s no repentance and faith that comes from the mighty works, then it’s all in vain. And the only lesson that I can draw just looking at these different passages is that Jesus is everywhere, yes. But He is present in a special way in certain places, in ways that He is not in other places. When Jesus was limited in a finite body, when He walked this earth, He could only be in one place at one time. And so clearly, if He is in Capernaum, He could not be in Chorazin. If He’s in Galilee, He could not be in Bethsaida. And so Jesus could only be in one place at one time.
And spiritually, after Jesus ascended to heaven, He can be in multiple places at the same time in the Spirit. But there are times when Jesus is especially present, and that is why there’s healing and deliverance and repentance and faith. And that’s a special visitation. It’s like Elijah the prophet visiting the widow at Zarephath, and not visiting all the other ones. It’s like Jesus visiting Naaman and healing his leprosy amongst all the other lepers who needed healing. Jesus is present in a special way, in certain places, in a way that He is not in other places, although He can be present everywhere. And what is the point anyway of healing and deliverance and spectacular displays of mighty works if it does not result in repentance and turning toward Jesus in faith in Him?
So going back to our main text. The posture of prayer in Acts 3.
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.
But before I go on, I want to point out that this man who was lame from birth, was brought and laid at the Beautiful Gate every single day. And Peter and John as Jewish men who were devout and pious, they go to the temple regularly, this must have been a regular visitation by Peter and John. And so, I want to point out that they must have crossed paths with this lame person at some point, but they just walked past him. It was not the day, they just walked past him. It was not the day, and so, for whatever reason, this is the day.
For whatever reason, Jesus wanted to visit with this lame person and heal him, and save him, and display the mighty works on this day. Because Peter and John visited the temple, this person was laid at this temple gate. And so Jesus was always present. He was always available to heal this man. But for whatever reason, it was not the previous days that this man was laid down, it wasn’t the previous days that Peter and John visited the temple, but it was on this particular day. And I can’t explain why. It is mysterious. Jesus is present in a special way and a specially appointed time, in ways that He’s not on other days, in other places.
3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”
We’ve been talking about the posture of prayer, and even last week we talked about turning our hearts to God the Father. And this verse says it again. That it is quite possible to not even be turned, and paying attention and looking at God the Father, while we’re asking prayers of Him. Like a spiritual beggar, our eyes are downcast, we’re looking down, we’re not expecting anything. Just a low expectation, downcast, depressed, anxious, worried, looking down, and our hand is up. We’re like a spiritual beggar. And that is not the posture of a believer. We’re not beggars. We are confident sons and daughters. We’re looking up at heaven, we’re looking straight at heaven, at the gate of heaven itself, with our arms extended and our eyes fixed with full expectation that nothing is impossible with God.
That if He wills and if He visits, because that’s the point. Because Jesus has to be present because it’s not the spiritually gifted minister’s power that causes the healing. It is not the spiritually gifted minister’s piety that brings a healing. It’s the presence of Jesus. And so if Jesus shows up, then healing is possible. And if Jesus wills, then it will happen, healing will happen. And so as children of God, we have confidence, we approach the throne of grace with confidence, eyes fixed on Heaven’s Gate, arms raised, knowing that nothing is impossible with God. That is the posture, not a beggar, not downcast.
And look at what is happening in this exchange between Peter, John, and this beggar, this lame man. In v.4, it says that Peter directed his gaze at him as did John, and said look at us, and he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. So, the best thing that this person expected on this day was just a little spare change. That is the best thing that he hoped for. And many times our eyes are downcast, or we’re looking at an issue, and we’re fixated on the issue. That somebody is sick, my loved one is sick, I lost my job, I need a job. And we’re downcast, we’re fixated on the issue, and like a spiritual beggar, we’re asking for a handout.
And what God is teaching us here is that many times we pray for something and we are missing the point. We’re praying for the wrong thing in the wrong order. Because if you just divide people into two groups, there are only two groups on the face of the earth. There are those who believe in Jesus, and those who don’t. And so first, I want to address prayer requests directed toward nonbelievers. So people in our life, our family members our friends, when we pray for them, what is the number one thing we should pray for a nonbeliever? Isn’t it salvation?
And so before we ask for them to be healed, before we ask for God to provide them a job, before we ask for their need to be met, the first thing we ask for a nonbeliever, and this goes for parents for nonbelieving children, is Lord Jesus save them. And this goes to the posture and also the priority of prayer. Because this beggar is fixated on the ground, he’s downcast, he’s not even looking at the people passing by. And he’s asking for such a low thing. Just a little spare change that if I can just feed fill my belly a little bit today, and then it’s a good day. Just a low expectation.
And so God is teaching us that often when we pray, we’re praying in the wrong order. First of all, the wrong posture. Not confidently. Downcast, not with high expectations, not with thanksgiving. And also the wrong order, praying for a nonbelieving family member, a nonbelieving friend. The first and foremost prayer for them, the most urgent prayer request is salvation. Because we don’t know the ways of God. We don’t know how He works. We don’t know what God is doing, how the Father is drawing the person to salvation. We don’t know how Jesus is approaching that person, coming to that person. We don’t know when and how the Holy Spirit is blowing in that person’s life. And so when we ask for the pain to be removed, we might be going against the will of God, because maybe God wills that person to go through heartache. And He wants that person to hit rock bottom. He wants the person to experience pain so that they kneel in desperation and they don’t know where to turn to. But finally, they cry out to the Heavenly Father for mercy.
See, we love so humanistically. And so, especially a loved one when we see them suffering, we want the suffering to end quickly. But the first thing we should pray for our loved one who does not believe is, Lord, do whatever is needed for this person to come to faith in Christ. If it’s pain, so be it, Lord. Amen, so be it, Lord. If this is the only way this person will be humbled in life, is to go through this difficult trial, so be it, Lord. Because you are drawing them, and this might be the only chance they have to salvation. How many times is a nonbelieving person humbled by life? Very few. There are few opportunities that the Father has to draw a person to salvation, and for Jesus to meet that person.
And so when we see a nonbelieving family member, friend, someone we care about, suffering. May our prayer not be, Lord, end the suffering. But may the prayer be, Lord, use this suffering to humble this person, so that they can be saved. Whatever it takes, Lord. I want this person to be saved. We’re not loving humanistically. We’re saying, Lord, whatever it takes, I pray this way for certain family members. Whatever it takes, even if it’s a tragedy, whatever it takes, Lord. I just want this person to be saved. Our posture has to be right. We’re not spiritual beggars. And our priority in our prayer has to be right, if they’re a nonbeliever. The first and foremost prayer for every nonbeliever has to be, Lord Jesus, save them.
What about for a believer? Is it any different for a believer? The fact that we have Jesus, is it is a one moment in time salvation and then we never call upon the name of Jesus? Is that the way it’s supposed to be? What is the priority for a believer praying for oneself or when you pray for another believer who is going through a difficulty? What is your prayer request? What is the first prayer request, line item number one? What is priority number one, when we pray for them? We pray the same prayer. Lord Jesus, can you meet them.
You know when we go through issues, even as believers, and there are times when I was just praying the wrong prayer for so long, that in the early years of the church in our history, I was praying for ministry opportunities. I was praying for God to add to our number daily those are being saved. I was praying for these things, but I didn’t pray the most important prayer, which is Jesus, meet me. Jesus, shepherd me. Jesus, guide me and I will only go where you lead me. I’m just a sheep going where the Shepherd leads me, and if you’re bringing me beside quiet waters, let me just be quiet before you. If you’re giving me a season of just getting my house in order, let that be the focus of these years. Jesus, you’re the Shepherd.
And so I was asking for things for the Shepherd to do for me, instead of coming to the Shepherd humbly. Many times when we go through a stressful situation or some heartache or some difficulty, we’re fixated on that difficulty. And like a beggar, we’re looking down, we’re looking upon this thing, our hand is raised up. We don’t have any expectation, we’re just asking the Lord like a chant, can you fix this. Lord, can you fix this? Can you fix this? And our head is down, we’re fixated on this thing, our hand is up, Lord, can you fix this?
And God doesn’t want us to pray that way. Even as believers, shouldn’t our prayer be, Lord Jesus, I want to meet you. Lord Jesus, I bring this issue to you. See, we involve Jesus. Every prayer is somehow connected to Jesus. Like if we are burdened, we don’t just say, Father, this burden, I’m burdened, fix this burden. We don’t just pray that way like a beggar. We say, Father, I have this burden, now I bring it to you, Lord Jesus, Jesus, take this burden and you’re inviting Jesus.
Because the main desire of your heart every time you pray, is you want to meet Jesus. Every time you pray, you want to meet Jesus and so you pray, you take this burden, you take this issue, you take this circumstance, and you bring it to the Lord Jesus. And so, Lord Jesus, can you take it. Can you lift it? Can you take this fear, this worry, this issue, can you take it and we leave it with him and we say, in Jesus Name, Amen, let it be so. I give it to you. That’s our posture of prayer, the priority of our prayer. And now we’re getting into the purpose of prayer.
The purpose of prayer is clear. We want to meet Jesus. The priority is clear. We pray for salvation for a loved one who does not believe, a friend who does not believe. Our priority, even for a believer is, Lord Jesus, meet that person. And the purpose is that you want to meet Him. That is the purpose, not only the priority, that is the purpose of prayer. If you pray, and Jesus is not even mentioned and you didn’t even connect with Jesus, then I want to say that it was a wasted, you’ve wasted your breath. I want to suggest to you that if you’ve been stressed and you didn’t bring that burden to Jesus, then you haven’t achieved the purpose of prayer.
God is wanting us to ask for Jesus. Because from the Father’s perspective, what is the greatest gift that He can give to His children? Is it healing? Is it a job? Is it a provision? Is it deliverance for a loved one? Is that the greatest gift that God can give to His children or to our loved ones,? Is it not Jesus Himself? Isn’t that the greatest gift for ourselves? Is it not the greatest gift for our loved ones? That is the purpose of prayer, the Father is waiting for that moment when we understand the purpose of prayer.
It is that God the Father has given us the greatest gift and faith we receive it with gratitude. Which means that nothing can change in our circumstances, and we can be praying the same prayer, day after day, year after year, and our heart is still at peace. We still have joy in our hearts. The circumstances do not affect the emotional state of our heart, because it’s not about the other requests, although Jesus in His sovereign power, according to His will, at any moment, He can miraculously give us secondary gifts, but the primary gift from God the Father to His children and our loved ones is Jesus Christ.
That is the purpose. If you understand that, God is so pleased. And I want to end with 2 Corinthians 1:18.
1 Corinthians 1
18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
So Paul is dealing with a Corinthian church, and they have a strange relationship. Because they are spiritually gifted and they got deceived by the spiritually gifted minister and they started following the minister, as if it’s that person’s power that healed. As if it is that person’s piety that brings deliverance. They started to divide up into factions according to the gifted minister they wanted to follow. That is the story of the Corinthian church. And Paul in their eyes is not as gifted. He’s not as impressive. And they are doubting his apostleship. That is the whole context of Corinthians, and so when Paul is saying, I wanted to visit you, and already there’s a strained relationship with this church, he is saying, I have not been wavering in my heart. Should I go yes, should I not go no. He’s saying that he’s not wavering, but God has not permitted him to return. And so he’s giving this letter.
And he uses this yes and no to say, from God’s point of view, is it yes and no? Is He vacillating? Is He wavering when you ask for spiritual things? When you ask for answers to prayer? Is He wavering, and it’s a yes and no? Because one day, He wants to give it to you. The next day, I’m not so into my child anymore, it’s a no today. No, He’s saying that when you ask for Jesus and you understand the purpose of prayer, and the priority of prayer, and you have the right posture in prayer, you’re kneeling before Him, and looking up at heaven, and your arms outstretched, not with a low expectation but a high expectation that nothing is impossible with God. That God’s answer is not yes today, no tomorrow. It’s always yes if you ask for Jesus. It’s always yes.
The word for yes is, verily, truly. The word amen means verily, truly. But there are some nuances that a. When it says yes, it also means, even so, despite what you see. Even so, I believe in Jesus. That’s what you’re expressing in your prayer. You always have to bring it to Jesus. You always have to come back to Jesus. Your prayer is always climax and return to Jesus. And so you laid out all your burdens, all your fears, all your anxieties, and then you say, yes, even so, even despite what I see, even so, I believe.
And that is why, in Jesus Name, we end our prayers, amen. Let it be so. Verily, truly, I don’t see it with my eyes, but spiritually, I believe. Verily, truly. And when we pray this prayer, and we hold on to Jesus, what does the Father see? He sees a heart that is turned toward Him. He sees a child of God who’s praying in the right way. He sees a child, a son or daughter, with genuine faith in God. And so what is God’s perspective on their prayer, His answer is yes, I’ll give you Jesus. It’s a yes, amen. God the Father must be so excited when He sees a child of God praying in the right way, with the right posture, the right priority, the right purpose of prayer. God must be in heaven saying, yes, amen to that prayer, I’m going to answer and give that person Jesus, because that’s what he asked for.
That’s why in Christ, all the promises of God are yes and amen. It’s in Christ, all the promises are yes. God’s promise in the Old Testament to bless Abraham and to use him as it as a channel of blessing to all the nations, is a foreshadowing of Jesus. In Christ, we have every spiritual blessing in heaven and on earth. God’s promise of peace is in Christ, there is no peace apart from Jesus. The world could be falling apart, but if you’re in Christ, you have His peace, you are not troubled. You could have the worst day in your life, but there is Jesus’s peace. In Jesus, there is peace, and there is joy. There could be a song in your heart on the day you heard the worst news of your life, there could be a song in your heart because you’re in Christ. Every promise of God is a yes and amen, in Jesus Christ. And that’s why the purpose of prayer is to involve Jesus, to incorporate Jesus, to bring all our requests to Jesus, that is our priority. And then once we connect with Him, we ask for the other things. But the priority has to be right.
So to recap. Let’s not be a spiritual beggar. When you’re fixated on a problem, and you’re downcast, often we don’t even look to heaven. We don’t even turn to Jesus, we’re just asking God in an abstract sense, just fix this issue. That is not how God wants us to pray. He wants us to look to heaven, on our knees, with full expectation that nothing is impossible. And even if He is delayed, let’s say He never answers that prayer for healing, is that going to change anything? Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
So if He doesn’t answer the prayer requests, if your life doesn’t make sense, Jesus always makes sense. He always makes sense. He never changes. And so still, even if our circumstances don’t change, we have the purpose of prayer and the priority of our prayer in line, it is Jesus Christ. That is the greatest gift that God can give to you. And so let’s ask for the greatest gift. That’s the priority of our prayers. For the other things, we say nothing is impossible. We understand that, but we also say, Jesus if you don’t visit my home, and heal me of this sickness, I still believe in you. I still trust in you. Nothing changes. My faith in you is not a yes today because you answered my prayer, and a no tomorrow because you didn’t answer my prayer. No, we’re like you toward us. You don’t waver toward us. We’re not going to waver towards you. Let’s pray.
Father, forgive us. For often we come to you as beggars. We don’t think you’re powerful enough to do anything in our life. We don’t think you hear us. We’re asking for the wrong thing. The lame person should have been, if he only knew that there was a God in heaven who could heal him and save him, but all he could ask for was a little spare change. Lord, often when we pray to you, we ask for the wrong thing. So Lord, I pray that as confident children of God, we can turn to heaven, and believe that nothing is impossible with you. With a thankful heart, despite what we see in our circumstances. You’ve given us the greatest gift of Jesus Christ. And so in faith, we receive this greatest gift. We give you thanks today, and every day because we have Jesus Christ.
For our loved ones you, Lord, you taught us today to pray in the right way. We pray for their salvation, first and foremost, so that when they are healed, when they are delivered, they know who to thank. They know who to give thanks to. Lord, if you heal them, and they didn’t even give you thanks, they didn’t have faith in you, what’s the point of healing? So Lord, thank you for teaching us how to pray for our non-Christian family members and friends. Father, even when it comes to ourselves. We pray that you teach us to pray in the right way. We don’t just pray to take this burden from me. We pray specifically, Lord Jesus, I give you this burden. Lord Jesus, I give you this sickness. Lord Jesus, I give you this worry. And Lord, this is how you want us to pray. You want us to involve your Son, that is the purpose of prayer, to unpack every spiritual gift in Christ.
Father, during the partaking of the Lord’s supper, now that you’re realigning hearts, we pray that you would meet us in a special way. Lord, if there are issues in our lives, we bring it before you and we leave it with you. We trust that nothing is impossible with you. We bring every sickness, every person who needs deliverance, we bring out the loved one for you we ask our Lord that you would do something, according to your perfect timing and your sovereign power.
Meet us, Lord, during the partaking of your Lord’s supper. We pray for the blood of Jesus that was shed at Calvary, to cover over every brother and sister here and on zoom, cover over our body, our soul, our spirit, mind, will, emotion, every cell in our body from head to toe, cover and cleanse us with the blood of Jesus. We pray that you cleanse our loved ones, our children, our family members, our friends. I pray that you meet them. Meet them and save them, Lord Jesus. Please, do whatever it takes, we don’t want to get in the way of you trying to save them. We don’t want to pray humanistically for the pain to end quickly. Lord, we pray according to your will. And the only thing that you care about, in terms of a nonbelieving family member is salvation. Lord, we align our hearts, according to your purposes and your will. We pray that you would meet us as we close the service. In Jesus Name, Amen