Church and Prayer (Acts 1: 12-26)
Prayer is the breath of Christians; a communication between those who are saved and the Saviour. Prayer unites our wills and our desires and syncs them with the will of God our Creator. Prayer has been a priority, not just a doctrine, since the early church. Even before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples all joined together constantly in prayer (v.14). One thing we can learn from the disciples is their devotion to prayer. They pray constantly and continue to pray fervently. Why do they keep praying? Because it is what the Lord Jesus has commanded them to do.
Jesus instructed the disciples to wait on the Father’s promise in sending the Holy Spirit. Although Jesus does not tell them exactly when the Holy Spirit is coming, they continue to wait faithfully. Their obedience in waiting for the Holy Spirit stems from Jesus’ resurrection, ascension and His second coming. All prophecies in the Old Testament about Messiah have been fulfilled in Jesus, and the disciples were witnesses to this reality.
Churches will pray fervently if they have the same understanding as that of the disciples, which is a mature understanding that Jesus has risen, defeated death, ascended to heaven, and will come back. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit (the third Person in the Trinity), who is the Helper and Comforter, will be with them as they become Christ’s witnesses in this world. This is the reason that underlies the obedience for churches to pray. We pray not only to get the answers to what we pray for, but also to enjoy a fellowship with God the Father, who is abundant in love and grace.
In verses 15 to 26, the disciples do not wait passively and idly for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They pray together, contemplate on God’s Words (v.16), and apply the Words of God into practice to bring God’s church in line with the will of God (verses 20-22). The disciples have set some criteria in considering the replacement for Judas (verses 21-23). Nevertheless, they still pray to God who knows the heart and ask that His will (no theirs) be done.
Prayer is the foundation for surrendering ourselves to God, by declaring God’s will to be done. When Jesus lives on earth as human, He often pray to His Father that what He does is in accordance with the will of the Father who sends Him.
Churches should not abandon their prayer life. Do not get carried away by flashy programs that makes the church look good, or by church rules, or by ministries that look sophisticated. The early church did not have all those things, but their testimonies shook the world. It was not because of the facilities, but because of their prayers, their reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, their willingness to learn God’s truth, and their faithfulness in witnessing Christ. When we look at a church, we should not judge it based on its music, its teachings and doctrine, or its ministries. We should also consider the health of its prayer life. May the Lord Jesus bless you all!