Last night, I was graciously given the pulpit at Woodlawn Baptist Church in south Austin. Pastor David Ritsema was out recovering from gall bladder surgery and he asked me to preach. We discussed the prayer in Acts 1:14.
All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers. Acts 1:14 (HCSB)
I asked one basic question of the text. What did they pray?
I’m convinced that they followers of Jesus prayed for at least three specific things in that upper room so many years ago.
- They prayed for a movement of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised them the arrival of the Spirit before they were to be witnesses of his resurrection. We see the movement of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 in the account of Pentecost. Like the disciples, we are called to pray audacious prayers asking for God’s Holy Spirit to come upon we who follow him. We should also pray for the hearts of those in our communities and cities to be drawn to Jesus and his Bride. This all comes from a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit.
- They prayed for the opportunity to be witnesses. Again, in Acts 1:8, Jesus told them that after the arrival of the Spirit they would be witnesses. In Acts 2 at the arrival of the Holy Spirit, they were given a great opportunity to be witnesses of the movement of God as Peter stood and explained to all that listened the amazing story of “this Jesus whom you crucified.” Similarly, we should be praying for this kind of opportunity to share the love and story of Christ. For our church plant, this is a prayer to hold a service. Individually, this is a prayer for God to place us in the paths of unbelievers in order to share with them the riches of Christ.
- They prayed for contextual clarity. After their prayer, Peter stood and explained the actions of Judas from the Word. While they were unable to see it while he walked among them, Peter was able to direct them to the Scriptures in order to understand current events. In our context, we need to pray for God to give us clarity in regards to current events. This is notable for individuals, but specifically for preachers / teachers. We have a responsibility to show the relevance of God’s Word. Naturally, this occurs best when we can exegete the culture as well as the text. Far too many pastors do one without the other. We must pray for the ability and wisdom to do both.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I believe that these are real prayers that God answered. We cannot possibly ask God for too much. Ephesians claims his ability to do more than we could ask or imagine (3:20-21). Perhaps the issue isn’t God’s ability to do amazing things, but our negligence of asking enough of our great God.