40 DAY PRAYER CAMPAIGN – WEEK 1
By David Nott
Prayer Coordinator – Youth for Christ Australia
Read: Acts 6-7
As we begin our 40 days of prayer & fasting I want to highlight one of my favourite young men of faith in the Bible – Stephen.
We find the account of Stephen in chapters 6 and 7 of Acts and through this short account we learn a lot about the qualities and fruit of a young man living in Christ.
A man of good reputation, full of faith, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom.
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…
Immediately we can identify the qualities Stephen was known for among the believers. A man of good reputation, full of faith, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom.
Initially we learn that Stephen was appointed to serve the body of Christ by helping coordinate the fair distribution of food to the widows in the church. This shows Stephen also had a servant heart and a love for the body of Christ.
Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.
Stephen was a faithful servant and a vessel in which the Holy Spirit moved powerfully through miracles to demonstrate that Jesus is Lord and Saviour.
None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.
The picture of Stephen continues to build. Now we see him used powerfully by the Spirit to proclaim the wisdom of God that none could stand against.
And finally in chapter 7 of Acts in a scene that has a striking resemblance to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion we see Stephen seized and brought before the council of priests and scribes for questioning. In the heat of this confrontation Stephen’s identity and posture as a son of the King is not shaken and the Spirit speaks with powerful conviction through Stephen.
His accusers are so confronted by the power and conviction with which Stephen spoke that they seek to silence these convictions by stoning Stephen to death.
Just as Jesus said on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We now see Stephen with the same heart.
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Just as Jesus loved him, he loved others.
Stephen served within the body of Christ with love and humility. He presented himself as a living sacrifice. This was his act of daily worship – that Jesus would be glorified in him. Stephen moved obediently and miraculously in the power of Holy Spirit. He proclaimed the Gospel in a hostile environment to the point of death. And ultimately he demonstrated the sacrificial love and forgiveness of Jesus to the end.
Just as Jesus loved him, he loved others.
As we launch into this time of prayer and fasting may we see a generation of Spirit filled, unwavering, powerful Stephen’s rise up and stand faithfully for the Gospel in this environment that continues growing in hostility toward the truth.
Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Eph 5:14
The focus of this 40 days of prayer and fasting is for the youth of our nation to awake to Christ.
Whether they were brought up in the Church or know nothing about Jesus at all, our prayer is that they would have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to respond to the Good News of Jesus. And more then that, that they will walk boldly in the character, qualities and practices of men and women established in Christ and pursuing the harvest.
Transformed lives will transform lives.
I encourage you as you pray broadly for the youth of our nation during this time, that you would also pray specifically and by name for young men and women you know – that, like Stephen, their lives would reflect Jesus.
About the 40 Day Prayer Campaign
Youth for Christ Australia is calling for 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting for the youth of our nation to awake to Christ as part of a broader mission to rescue and restore the lost youth of Australia through peer-to-peer evangelism and discipleship.
Each week we'll publish a weekly devotional to encourage and help direct the prayers of those who have committed themselves to this initiative. To get more information about this Prayer Campaign click here or signup below to receive a weekly devotion in your email inbox.
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