Throughout the Listen, Learn, Love series, we invite you to pray as a group or alone. This guide can be used as a supplement or an alternative activity to using the sermon study guide.
For more prayer prompts, plus scripture readings visit Daily Steps, our weekly devotional.
The story of Peter and Cornelius has supernatural relevance to the world we are living in today. As you read through this passage from Acts 10, take some time to pray through each section, asking God to show you how to apply these rich lessons to listening, learning about, and loving others in your life.
PRAYING THROUGH ACTS 10
In your group or by yourself, spend some time in prayer, asking God to continue the difficult and beautiful work in our hearts so that we can love one another the way He has called us to do. Ask Him for humility. Ask Him to show us the places we want desperately to protect but need to surrender.
Cornelius Calls for Peter
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision.
Pray: God, we deeply desire a vision or direction from you. Please show us the habits we have that may be preventing us from hearing or seeing you. How can we live our lives so that we are ready and open to hearing your voice?
He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
Pray: When you speak to us, give us the courage to recognize your voice and respond immediately. Give us the courage to do things that may not immediately make sense. Give us the courage to follow where you are leading.
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
Pray: God, your timing is perfect. Let us respect and respond to your timing, knowing that you are preparing those around us in the same way you are preparing us. Help us to trust and believe that what you are asking us to do is never in isolation, and the details we can (or can’t yet) see are being worked out according to your purpose. Help us remember that all of your Kingdom workers — our brothers and sisters — are on a journey to holiness; and their journey may look different than ours. Just as Peter was being taught one lesson and Cornelious a different one, help us to be willing to walk alongside — and learn with — those around us.
10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
Pray: Give us ears to hear your message.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
Pray: Let us be as courageous as the men who went to an unknown place to find an unknown man for an unknown reason. Let us be brave as we journey to an unknown place to find those who can teach us things we do not yet know. Let us not be afraid but trust that your truth will gloriously emerge as we are obedient to you.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
Pray: May we confidently recognize those people your spirit brings into our lives. May we welcome them, learn from them, and share our understanding of who you are with them.
22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
Pray: God, help us to be like both Peter and Cornelius. Let us be like Cornelius: respected and God-fearing. May we be people who boldly ask for truth — even from those who may be very different from us. May we seek your truth, your heart, and your desire, and work alongside those whom you have ordained without hesitation — no matter their background or heritage.
Pray: Help us to be like Peter, that we may identify the practices and customs that divide and exclude. May we let go of them so our arms may be open to the people we may have shut out. May we understand the way our identity as Christ-followers extends beyond the traditions we have held. Deepen our understanding of what it means to be your child. Help us to let go of the superficial aspect of our Christian identities so that we can anchor ourselves more deeply in you.
Peter at Cornelius’s House
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
Pray: Who is it we need to call together? Who needs to be sitting next to us as we journey deeper into your truth? With whom do you want us to participate in the conversations around faith, race, and unity? Who do we need to learn from? Who do we need to teach?
25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
Pray: Let us humbly listen and humbly speak.
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
Pray: Let us hear so clearly and directly from you that the Gospel cannot be misinterpreted, misheard, or misunderstood. Let us respond immediately, as Peter did. Give us the courage to show up, even if we don’t know why we were sent or what we are to do.
30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him.
Pray: Reveal to us as you revealed Peter where we show favoritism. Show us where we believe one kind of person is better than another person. Help us to recognize our preferences for who they are (simply something we like better than something else) and our biases for what they are (a belief that one thing has more inherent value than something else.) Free us from the bondage of favoritism.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Pray: Unite us with our brothers and sisters who do not look like us, talk like us, eat like us, or celebrate like us. Make us one body equipped to do your work. Show us where we are divided and give us courage and humility to repair the division. Unify us in our calling and purpose. Show us the work we have to do.
Mark 2:22: And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
Pray: Show us the old wineskins we must no longer use. Show us the things we have tried to repair that you want to replace. Help us embrace the NEW you are leading us into. May we leave fear behind, knowing your desire is for all to deeply know and experience your redemption (I Timothy 2:4).