This week as we come to the end of the month of February, we will be finishing off our reading of the book of Acts and then start Psalms in March.
As we wrap up our reading of Acts in light of missions month in February, we want to zoom in on prayer. In Luke when Jesus sends out his disciples for a short-term missions, we see how Jesus emphasizes prayer as the first thing disciples are to do before going out: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly for the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). Notice that Jesus does not say, “…therefore go out quickly” or “do your best” or “come up with the best plan.” He says, “pray earnestly.” In Acts the disciples are commanded to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit before going out to be witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1:4, 8). The disciples wait together by “devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). We are called to wait and pray before being sent out on a mission, for we are helpless apart from God’s anointing and Spirit’s empowering grace.
As we read that in the book of Acts there are more than 30 references to prayer. Whether it is before establishing leadership (1:24; 6:6; 14:23), receiving the Holy Spirit (2:1; 8:15, 22, 24), starting the first overseas missions (13:3), or enduring suffering (16:25), prayer is the most prominent feature of the book of Acts. In fact, we can summarize the book of Acts as the “Acts of Jesus through his church who depends on him through prayer.” Or we can call it as “Acts of Jesus through Spirit-filled Christians who are empowered through Word and prayer.” It was prayer that propels missional life of the early church. And for us who are called to live a missional life and to be a missional church it is the same: it is a life of prayer through which we will be empowered by the Spirit to carry out the great commission.
As much as private prayer is important to cultivate an intimate relationship with God, corporate prayer is a must for us to live a missional life and to be a missional church together. There are multiple profits of praying together as noted by David Mathis in his book, Habits of Grace; I list four here:
1. For Unity Among Believers: Praying together is one of the single most significant things we can do together to cultivate unity in the church. Acts 1:14 says it was “with one accord” that the first Christians “were devoting themselves to prayer.” We already have “the unity of the Spirit” and yet we are to be “eager to maintain” it (Eph 4:3). So praying together is both an effect of the unity we already share in Christ and a cause for deeper and richer unity.
2. For Fruitful Ministry and Mission: God means for us to pray for each other in our various ministries and missions, in light of our great shared Commission. Paul modeled this in asking the churches to pray for his gospel work (cf. Rom 15:30-32; 2 Cor 1:11; Eph 6:18-20). He was more than able to pray these things himself, and doubtless he did. But he anticipated there would be greater fruitfulness in the work when others joined him in prayer for it.
3. For Added Power: There is an added power to our prayers when we unite with fellows in the faith and make our requests to the Father with our hearts joined together (cf. Matt 18:15-20)
4. To Learn and Grow in Our Prayers: Plain and simple, the best way to learn to pray is pray with others who have had their prayers shaped by the Scriptures.
May we be a praying community in which we experience unity, fruitful ministry, power and growth together with fellow brothers and sisters!
This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:
|Monday: Acts 22-23||☐||Thursday: Acts 28, Psalms 1||☐|
|Tuesday: Acts 24-25||☐||Friday: Psalms 2||☐|
|Wednesday: Acts 26-27||☐||Saturday: Psalms 3||☐|
Bible Column & Reading Plan by Rev. Chang Soo Lee
Mississauga Camps Lead Pastor