And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
The early church was close enough both to Jewish tradition and custom and also to the experiences of the apostles to know that high on the list of importance in devotional matters, was prayer.
Obviously there was something going on here that we are not privy to, and Luke seems to think we will know what he means when he expresses that the early church devoted themselves to a few key elements, one of them being, “the prayers”. The important thing seems to be not so much, ‘the prayers’, but that the early church, with all the important factors and needs at their critical place of infancy, was to ‘devote themselves to this subject.
It was something that had high priority, and gripped their heart. A church undergoing a massive onslaught of hostility and persecution gave themselves to radical prayer. In fact, as you turn the pages of the Acts of the Holy Spirit you find time and again that they are a praying people.
A devotion to prayer was not something that came naturally and easily. The tendency of the human heart has always been towards fear and anxiety, which is why Jesus time and time again exhorted his hearers to not be anxious, and to make all their needs known to God in prayer.
His admonitions for us to pray and not give up, to relentlessly ask, seek and knock in prayer almost seem to give the hint that Jesus was trying to give us a clue that heaven is just waiting to hear our prayers and requests and answer us, positively. How strong is the admonition, “I tell you, ASK and you WILL receive…”
We need to encourage each other to do this, and we need to lead by example.
It seems to me that reading your bible and prayer can be something that we can treat as an ‘either-or’ lifestyle option. There are times in my life where I have spent 3 or 4 hours in prayer and read so little from my bible you could have called it neglect. Now days, having read all of the gospel of John or Matthew in one go, I need to remind myself and devote myself to prayer.
It is not easy. There is something legalistic in my heart that wants to claim exemption because I have read a chunk of the bible. My heart is so deceptive and devious. I do need to pray, and I need to pray longer than the comfy Western life style I live suggests. Jesus was always praying, and encouraged us to do the same too, and often. I have purposely not given you the verses, go and find them for yourself.
Devoted. The prayers. Those very words are worth pondering about for the next few days of your life… Let them grip your thinking because their is much at stake. If you want to see and experience a life with God and the activity of the Spirit as they did, then maybe we (not just you) need to live like they did…