As we continue reading these incredible stories of conversion and the growth of the early church, one thing couldn't be more clear - these are stories of God's actions. Yes, the disciples are acting with faithful obedience to their call to spread the gospel, but the result clearly could never have been accomplished without Divine Providence.
"The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord." (Acts 11:21, CEB)Acts chapters 11 and 12 are filled with references to the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the disciples and new believers. As I read these stories, I was struck by the faithfulness of the disciples and the church to prayer (Peter praying in Joppa in v. 11:5, the church fervently praying for Peter in 12:5). I was also reminded about something a seminary professor once said about the Holy Spirit in a lecture...that the Holy Spirit is the shy member of the Trinity who will sit in the back of the church and wait to be invited in.
The current state of affairs in the Church and in the world calls for our fervent prayer and invitation to the Holy Spirit. And so, I invite you to join me in using this prayer from the United Methodist Hymnal:
An Invitation to the Holy Spirit (UMH #335):
O God, the Holy Spirit,come to us, and among us;come as the wind, and cleanse us;come as the fire, and burn;come as the dew, and refresh;convict, convert, and consecratemany hearts and livesto our great goodand to thy greater glory;and this we ask for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.