“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Acts 1:14 (ESV)
If you were asked what event in the book of Acts you would have liked to witness first hand, I’m sure your answer would involve some of the miracle encounters that take place in the streets. But what about the prayer meeting from which all of these things originated? What would it have been like to be in an early church prayer meeting?
Acts 1:14 describes for us the very first Christian prayer meeting. It was the first known gathering since Jesus’ ascension and would be the practice of these believers as they waited for the power of God to come upon them. Here are a few observations concerning it:
Characterised by “One”
We read that these disciples prayed with one accord. Two words in English but one word in Greek. The word in question is a compound word that could literally be translated ‘one passion’. It is not that they were simply united in purpose, but they were united in passion!
Passion for God amongst His people is a reflection of His worth. Nothing should be more contradictory than a dead prayer meeting if we truly came to grips with what prayer is.
Five-hundred people saw Jesus when He was resurrected, and yet only 120 were found this upper room. More missed out on the blessings of Pentecost than received it. Let us not be like those who claim to have met the resurrected Christ, but refuse to do mission His way. Let us not be like the sons of the prophets who, when Elisha was taking over from Elijah, only stood far off to observe glory from a distance and weren’t prepared to step into the Jordan themselves.
Marked by Diversity
Unlike the temple courts that had a Gentile section, a female section and then a male section, this prayer meeting had everyone – male and female together. This Jesus movement declares equality among the people of God, never known before. We all have access based on Him, not on us.
There is a second characteristic of the early church’s praying. Yes, it was passionate, but they were also devoted to prayer. The word means to persevere, to be constant or to be diligent. It is in the present tense which means, this was a pattern for the early church. In other words, they didn’t just pray when they felt like it. They did it in season and out of season. The church is crying out today not only for passionate people but committed people. You tend to find people on both extremes, but what the Bible calls for is for us to be a people with both extremes – fully passionate and fully committed.
Father, we come before you and confess our great need. Our passion ebbs and flows – inflame our spiritual appetites. Our commitment is often inconsistent – give us the fruit of faithfulness. This prayer meeting in Acts 1 was the beginning of Your programme to change the world. We ask oh God, to do it again! Amen