They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.Acts 2:42-47
Don’t forget we still have one element to finish in the grammatical structure we were looking at.
They were continually devoting themselves
- to the apostles’ teaching
- to fellowship
- to the breaking of bread
- to prayer.
The missing element is Prayer. Interesting isn’t it that it is the last item on the list. Like so many of us, we include prayer on our list in the last place when it should be the first on the list. Remember that Luke is telling us that they also devoted themselves to prayer along with the other aspects we have investigated in the last few Gems. While I made the comment about prayer being last in our list, it is also possible that Prayer is last because it has been put in the place of emphasis by Luke. The first and last slot in the Greek sentence is often used for emphasis.
Note that Luke is really continuing the focus on prayer that he started in his gospel.
Some of the Gospel references:
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and He prayed to God all night.Luke 6:12
One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only His disciples were with Him, and He asked them, “Who do people say I am?”Luke 9:18
About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray.Luke 9:28
These were His instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.Luke 10:2
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may Your name be kept holy. May Your Kingdom come soon.
Then, teaching them more about prayer, He used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,Luke 11:1-2, 5
One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.Luke 18:1
He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”Luke 19:46
Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”Luke 21:36
But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to Me again, strengthen your brothers.”
There He told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
“Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”Luke 22:32, 40, 46
Once when He was eating with them, He commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised, as I told you before.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:4, 8
They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.Acts 1:14
Then they all prayed, “O Lord, You know every heart. Show us which of these men You have chosenActs 1:24
On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.Acts 2:1
But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’Acts 2:21
All the believers devoted themselves tothe apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.Acts 2:42
We know the disciples devoted themselves to prayer because Luke tells us so, but it is also true that the disciples have been on a learning curve regarding prayer throughout their time with Jesus. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that they should stay together after Jesus left, praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them to wait and has instilled into them the need to pray, along with an awareness of their own weakness. Furthermore, they were acutely aware of their shortcomings in this area, none more so than Peter himself. It stands to reason that they have learned their lessons to the point where they devote themselves to pray. The bulk of the disciples only have to think back less than two months, 50 plus days, to remember how they fell asleep while supposedly praying. At the most crucial time of Jesus ministry, when the end and apex of His time on earth was approaching, when He needed them most, they failed Him. I am sure Peter was passionate about stirring the others to pray. After all, Jesus told him that when he was strengthened, that he in turn should strengthen his brothers. I can’t imagine the disciples going through this time of waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit without earnest prayer. Furthermore, there is something that happens when we all go through an intense time of testing together, which strengthens us through the shared group experience. Little wonder that they devoted themselves to prayer.
I believe the disciples poured their hearts into praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They prayed-in the Holy Spirit. How many times do you pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit? Beginning your time of devotion or prayer by inviting the Holy Spirit’s presence. After all, you know He has come and lives within you. They didn’t. They were waiting for the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies. They hadn’t clicked yet to the idea that the Holy Spirit would be within them (Oholibah – my tent is within her). You live post-Pentecost when you know about the indwelling Holy Spirit. You don’t have to wait for the coming of the Spirit, unless you haven’t invited Him into your life yet to take over. You have Him there living within you. All you have to do is call Him into action. Then stand aside and let Him work.
I think a major component as to why all this happened as it did was through focused, concentrated and concerted prayer.
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.Ian Vail
Post-Pentecost: See your blessings more clearly, hold your loved ones more dearly, and offer your prayers more sincerely.Ian Vail
Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Pray daily. Leave everything else to God.Anon
The power of prayer doesn’t depend on the virtue of the one who prays, but on the unchanging love of the one who hears.Bob Gass
Action begins in Heaven when someone on earth prays.Bob Gass
A prayer may take a moment, yet its impact lasts forever!Brian Houston
Your church ought to be prayer conditioned.Ian Vail