In Acts 2:42, Luke writes that the early believers devoted themselves to prayer.
Now, I’m willing to bet that if any of us were asked, “Is prayer important?” we would answer with a hearty “Yes!” But I wonder how many of us could honestly say we are devoted to prayer the way the early believers were.
When we look at the way the first believers prayed in the book of Acts, we see a couple of ways their devotion to prayer played out.
The Early Believers Prayed Corporately
It shouldn’t surprise us that the early believers gathered to pray. After all, remember that the early days of the church were marked by a decent amount of fear and confusion as they tried to figure out exactly what life looked like without Jesus.
Acts 1:14 says “they were all continually united in prayer.” So it seems that, when they didn’t know what else to do, they gathered to pray.
In Acts 12, James was killed, and Peter was being held in prison. In verse 5, we’re told that the church gathered to pray “fervently” to God for Peter.
In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit led the church to set aside Paul and Barnabas for the work of ministry. Then the church prayed for them and sent them out.
These are just a few examples, but they show that the early believers were devoted to praying together as believers.
The Early Believers Prayed Privately
In addition to the corporate prayer gatherings mentioned above, we also see believers praying privately.
Perhaps the best example of this occurs in Acts 10, as Peter is praying up on his roof. As he’s praying, the Holy Spirit reveals to him in a dream that he is being sent to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. This foreshadows Paul’s mission to the Gentiles, which occurs throughout the rest of the book.
Later, in Acts 16, Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns to God in prison, when suddenly the jail walls are shaken and the doors swing open. This event leads to the jailer and his family being saved and baptized.
What we see in all these passages is that the early church was devoted to prayer, both corporately as a body of believers and individually.
Recovering a Devotion to Prayer
If you struggle to pray personally, or even to lead your congregation to pray, I highly encourage you to check out these excellent resources on prayer from Bob Burton. They will give you a framework to pray through in both your local congregation and your personal prayer time.
After all, as Mark Clifton reminds us in his book Reclaiming Glory, you can’t revitalize or replant a church on your own. It requires a deep devotion to and reliance on the Holy Spirit. And that only comes through prayer.
So, pastor, lead your people and model for them what a life of prayer looks like!
Published October 27, 2020