Fifty Days of Prayer | Day 25

Praying for Church Planting through the Book of Acts

From Iconium Paul and Barnabas moved to Lystra. Paul was preaching the gospel there as he had done in other cities. Finding a man who had been a paraplegic since birth Paul healed him. God worked in a miraculous way to give a concrete example of the saving work of Christ and the native people interpreted it through their own religion. The entire city then attempted to worship Paul and Barnabas as Hermes and Zeus. In response, Paul and Barnabas "tore their garments" as a sign of blasphemy. They would not receive praise, celebration, or glory that was due only to God or take credit for the work that the Lord had clearly done. So, we pray for the grace to resist undue praise and to always give credit to the Lord.

Those who had resisted Paul and Barnabas in Pisidian Antioch and Iconium made their way to Lystra. Taking advantage of the religious upheaval in the city they turned the people against Paul and Barnabas by inciting them to stone the missionaries. Despite the physical assault Paul would not be dissuaded. After a brief visit to nearby Derbe, Paul and Barnabas would return to the three cities that had rejected them "strengthening the souls of the disciples". After establishing elders in each of these cities they returned to Antioch in Caesarea. So, we pray for the conviction and grace to continue despite even serious resistance.

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God,who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples.
— Acts 14:8-28