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.