Acts 19:11-15, “11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
I recently spoke of the importance of prayer at an evangelism class. What I hammered the most was how light and heat cannot be separated from the fire. You can have light to show the way, however you need the heat to melt the hearts. Paul in 1Corinthians 4:20, makes it clear, “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power”. He is not disqualifying the Word, he is showing that the word is incomplete without the power.
Vs. 11 says, “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, …”. It’s God not Paul who worked miracles by his hands. This verse is qualified by 2Corinthians 4:7 which says “… we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us”. Yes Paul was an apostle given the power, however he was not an apostle who did nothing. You hear him ask brethren to pray for him, 1Thessalonians 5:25, 2Thessalonians 3:1 etc. Every time he wrote, he always mentioned that he was praying for those he wrote to. We see in his life God’s sovereignty and also his human responsibility response. Paul depended on prayers.
Vs. “13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Most of the gospel today urges people to name it and claim it, blab it and grab it. You don’t need to pray, you don’t need to even belong; invoke the name of Jesus and all will happen. It’s even said in our time, salvation is as easy as ABC while the bible says it’s hard, Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able”. And while this is hard, here we find some Jewish exorcist, people who claimed to have a means to drive out evil spirits took upon the name of Jesus as a means to get what they wanted especially to build a name for themselves. It was not about Christ and His glory but about themselves. The name to them was a magic gene you rub to get what you want. They may have known some truth (light) intellectually, but they had no heat, they did not belong.
Vs. “14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” How else can we believe Paul was a praying man? By what happened to the sons of Sceva. Seven of them tried to expel an evil spirit from a man through the name of Jesus Paul preached. The evil spirit’s response, “Jesus I know and Paul I know; but who are you?” The evil spirits know praying people, Satan is known as the prince of air (Ephesians 2:2). He knows those who intercede, he knew Daniel as a man of prayer that when he prayed, he tried to stop his answer from coming back to him and Michael battled him (Daniel 10). We also see this in the life of Job, you read of Job praying for his family and then you hear Satan accusing him (Job 1). The disciples went out in Jesus power in Mark 6 and cast out demons, healed the sick and preached the gospel. Less than a year later, 9 disciples left behind as Jesus went up the mountain to pray (Luke 9) could not cast out evil spirits from just 1 child. Jesus said to them later, “Mark 9:29, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
Satan and his demons know those who pray and those who don’t. If we invoke the name and are not a praying people, none of these moves him. Those who are a threat to him and his kingdom are those who are “constantly submitting to God in prayer and resisting him through the power given to them to overcome”. If you have power cables but not connected to the power, the cables are no good. If we are engaged in everything but praying, then we have demonstrated that we don’t honor God because by prayer do we demonstrate our dependence on Him. “Prayer is the greatest of all forces, it honors God and brings Him into active aid”, E.M. Bounds. “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick. The first love we have neglected is that of honoring God when we commune with Him in prayers and this must be our passion otherwise we are bound to have the light without heat. If we are doing God’s work and not praying, I would not be surprised to hear Him say to us what He said to the church in Ephesus who did everything great but God had something to say against them. Blessings Ev