Praying Off the Beaten Path (Praying Through the Bible #225)

TEXT: Acts 16:13-15

13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 223 messages in this series.

This is message #224 titled, Praying Off the Beaten Path.

In this passage, we find Paul in the middle of his second missionary journey. Recently, he has attempted to take the Gospel message east into Asia Minor, but found repeatedly doors being shut and the Spirit indicating that they should not move forward in that direction. While they were waiting to find out what they should do next, Paul received a vision of a Macedonian man telling him, “Come over and help us.” Taking this as a sign from the Lord, Paul, Silas, and Luke go west into Europe. We know that Luke is with them because his narrative switches from “they” to “we”; he is a partaker in the action of his historical account. They arrive in Philippi, a Roman colony city in Macedonia.

Philippi was the most prominent city in the region. Being a colony city, it was considered a “little Rome,” a “Rome away from Rome.” It was filled with loyal Roman subjects, many of whom were retired soldiers, who had received rewards from the Roman emperor in exchange for them leaving Italy and reinforcing Roman values by living in an outpost of the Empire. Philippi was also the city where Mark Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius in a decisive battle of the second Roman civil war just a few years prior to the arrival of Paul, Silas, and Luke.

On the first Sabbath after their arrival, we find Paul and his fellow workers heading down to a riverside where Jews gathered for prayer. Either one of the men in the group had some prior knowledge of the place or they were just looking for a place to pray themselves when they happened upon a group of Jews. Normally, Paul would have sought to present the Gospel in the synagogue on the Sabbath, but there was no synagogue in Philippi because the Jewish population in that city was very small and at least ten adult men were needed for the establishment of a synagogue.

The riverside prayer location was a way for the few Jews and others who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to get away from the noise of the pagan city and get alone with God. The fact that it was a place “where prayer was wont to be made,” lets us know that the Jews gathered here consistently to pray. Matthew Henry noted, “Certainly, each of those who gathered here on the weekend also prayed separately every day; this was always the practice of those who worshiped God. Though they were but a few and marginalized by the town, though their meeting was at some distance, though it appears there were none but women, yet they determined to have a solemn assembly in order to worship God.”

The example of the women of Philippi reminds us that the power of prayer, independently or collectively, is not in any particular place. Many Christians only seriously pray when they are in the house of God on Sunday. They go through the week never once accessing the power that is available to them by going to God in prayer wherever they are — at home, in school, on the job, or driving from one place to another. The women of Philippi were not discouraged from gathering and praying together because they did not have a synagogue. Instead, they met by the river. They were determined to spend quality time with God in prayer.

Luke writes that he, Paul, and Silas, “sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.” Paul and his companions conversed with the women about Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. The women of Philippi received the blessing of the truth of the Gospel because they were in this place of prayer off the beaten path. They received the truth from God, not in a synagogue or in the Temple, but by a riverside — a riverside they had resorted to because they were few in number and at a disadvantage in the city. (Not only were they believers in the true God in a pagan city, they were women in a male-dominated society.)

We, too, ought to be committed to praying anywhere. Certainly, we ought to resort to our “prayer closets” frequently. Certainly, we ought to attend church services and be in fellowship with other believers as much as possible. But there is no place where God cannot hear and answer our prayers. It may be that God also has special answers and special blessings for those of us who engage in prayer off the beaten path.

Someone once wrote:

God has given you His promise
That He hears and answers prayer.
He will heed your supplication
If you cast on Him your care.

He can hear the greatest petition,
And the smallest, over there.
Unto God, pray without ceasing,
He will answer every prayer.

Take to God your plans and failures,
Anytime and anywhere.
No one ever goes unanswered,
For He answers every prayer.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.


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