Fifty Days of Prayer | Day 11

Fifty Days of Prayer | Day 11

Praying for Church Planting through the Book of Acts

So far in the book of Acts, Luke has made repeated mention of the power of the Spirit and the resulting conversions. In 8:9-25 we're introduced to a man who sees only selfish gain in the power that the apostles and church leaders had. His name was Simon and he "had previously practiced magic in the city" (8:9). He used this to gain a following "saying that he himself was somebody great" (8:9). Two times in as many verses Luke says that the people of Samaria "paid attention" to him. When Philip preached the gospel, many came to faith, including Simon. We're told he was baptized and "continued with Philip" (8:13). While we want to Holy Spirit work in miraculous and powerful ways, we don't want people to lose focus. So, we pray that we would always "pay attention" to Jesus and not his power only.

Peter and John would soon join Philip in Samaria. They came down to pray for the people "that they might receive the Holy Spirit" (8:15). Jesus was building his church, but in a way that confirmed the apostles' teaching and leadership. So, they had to go to Samaria and ask God to send the Holy Spirit. When they laid their hands on these new believers they received the Holy Spirit (8:17). Simon, formerly a magician and used to "power", saw this happen and wanted to buy it for himself. He asked Peter, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may also receive the Holy Spirit." He wanted people to receive the Holy Spirit, that's a good desire. But, he wanted to be the one who decided how, when, and to what degree they received him. In other words, he wanted to control God. Thus the sternness of Peter's rebuke. We don't want to be people who attempt to control God. So, we pray that we would always maintain the posture of receiving from God and not attempting to control him for our selfish gain.

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, forhe had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of Godwith money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
— Acts 8:9-25