Connections 05.24.2020: Let Us Pray

Acts 1:6-14

Jesus’ followers had watched him ascend to heaven. Before he ascended, he told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. As they gathered to wait, they “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…” (v. 14a).

What are we constantly devoting ourselves to? I wonder if these days of isolation have revealed to us anything we have been giving a lot of attention, time, and energy to that we can actually do without.

We can’t do without prayer. In fact, I suspect that all of us, both as individual Christians and as churches, could and should devote more time to prayer.

A few years ago, I was leading a study on prayer. As I prepared, I thought about saying, “Prayer is an important part of the Christian life.” I’d been saying something like that about prayer for a long time. But on that day, I got to thinking about it.

I asked myself, “What is the Christian life?” I answered myself, “The Christian life is communion with God.”

Then I asked myself, “What is prayer?” I answered myself, “Prayer is communion with God.”

“Well,” I said to myself, “if that’s the case, then isn’t the Christian life prayer, and isn’t prayer the Christian life?”

To live the Christian life is to pray. To pray is to live the Christian life. I think those statements are true if we think of both prayer and the Christian life as communion with God. Another way to say all of this is to say that a Christian should be in constant communion with God. If this is so (and surely it is), then everything we feel, think, say, and do should be offered up to God as prayer. We should have special times devoted to prayer, to be sure, but we can also be sure that every aspect of our lives should be prayer.

“Pray without ceasing,” Paul tells us (1 Thess 5:17). We are Christian without ceasing. We follow Jesus without ceasing. We commune with God without ceasing.

But we also commune with each other without ceasing. When the earliest followers of Jesus prayed, they prayed together. We never stop being God’s people, God’s children, and Jesus’ followers. We never stop praying.

We also never stop being siblings to each other. So we never stop praying together. We have times when we pray alone, to be sure. But even when we pray alone, we do so in community with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

In our lesson text, the believers “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer” as they waited for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. The Spirit did come to them, and the Spirit has come to us. The Spirit empowered them for ministry, and the Spirit empowers us for ministry. We need to continue praying together as we seek the Spirit’s guidance.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, two angels told the apostles that Jesus would return the same way he departed. We’re still waiting for that return. In the meantime, let us worship, let us serve, and let us commune with God and with each other.

Let us pray. Always. Without ceasing. Together.

Discussion

  • The disciples quiz the resurrected Jesus about whether or not he is going to fulfill Israel’s hopes for political restoration. Jesus tells them, in effect, that they shouldn’t worry about such things, but rather should be ready to use the power of the Spirit to continue Jesus’ ministry. What kinds of things do we treat as priorities that really aren’t? How can such misplaced priorities distract us from who we should be and what we should be doing?
  • Apply the word “meanwhile” to the lesson text and to our lives. What did the disciples do during the “meanwhile” between Jesus’ ascension and the Holy Spirit’s coming? What are we to do during the “meanwhile” between Jesus’ first and second comings?
  • If we don’t constantly devote ourselves to prayer, what might fill some of the space that prayer should fill?
  • Why is prayer so necessary to the life of a Christian and to the life of the church?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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