MAY 16

Devotion to Prayer

Bible Reading: Acts 2:42

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42, NASB).

My uncle, Pastor Bob, and I were in Uganda leading a two-day marriage conference in a place called Bukomansimbi.  On the afternoon of the second day, we answered questions the pastors and spouses had previously submitted to us.  The folks there were aware of Laura’s condition, and how she’d been suffering with chronic pain and other disabilities associated with her cancer.  It was not surprising then, when someone asked me how a spouse can best care for their partner if he or she is struggling with a chronic illness.  That was to be the last question and conclusion of the conference, but when I sat down after responding, the pastor’s wife of the hosting church stood up.  She asked those in attendance to pray for Laura.  Immediately the group collectively stood to their feet and with many lifting their hands to heaven, they began to pray.  All that was being said had been spoken in Lugandan, but our leader and interpreter explained to us what they were doing—they were praying for Laura!  

They prayed with an obvious fervor; the sound of their voices interwoven in a glorious chorus of prayer for my wife. Then, as if on some mysterious unspoken cue, they all stopped praying and sat down.  It’s a humbling thing to be prayed over in that fashion.  Our impoverished brethren, in that faraway place, have plenty of needs and problems of their own.  Yet they have hearts full of faith and tender compassion, so when given an opportunity to pray, they don’t hesitate.  Over the course of my many visits to Uganda I was both inspired and convicted by their example in their devotion to prayer.  I imagine it must have been something akin to what was happening in the early church.

In Acts 2:41 we read of the miraculous conversion of three thousand souls and then in the very next verse we read about what they were doing.  There are four things mentioned, the church has been engaged in these four practices ever since.

How did they know to do these things?  It was the Spirit who caused them to be born again.  It was the Spirit who instructed and led them.  These are not just four good “things” for believers in Jesus to do, they are all intimately associated with our relationship with Jesus.  It is the Spirit of God who mediates to us the presence of Jesus.   It is the Spirit who leads us in the practice of these four disciplines.  Those early disciples were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching.  Why?  Because they loved Jesus and wanted to hear from Him.  They were doing the same with respect to prayer.  Why?  Because they loved and worshiped the Lord.  They needed Him and wanted to communicate with Him.  The same goes for fellowship.  They wanted to be with His people.  And in the breaking of bread.  They knew it was important for them to remember what Jesus had done for them.

They did these things out of love and devotion to their Savior.  And so, it is the same when a person comes to faith in Christ.  They are Spirit-led to pray, give attention to the Word, seek fellowship with other like-minded believers and gladly are reminded of His love in the breaking of bread.  You no doubt had the same experience.  You were born again to a love for Jesus which revealed itself in a love for His Word, His People, His Remembrance and a love to talk to Him in Prayer. 

At the heart of these four “Spirit-led” disciplines then, is a Spirit-borne love for Jesus.  As such, these practices serve as a barometer of sorts when it comes to what’s going on in our heart.  Prayer is right there in the mix.  How’s my prayer life?  Why don’t I want to talk to Jesus as I should, or once did?  Why has being at church become a mere obligation instead of a joyful thing to be embraced?  Has sin gotten in the way?  Has my love for Him grown cold?  What can work to make a change, not just that I might pray as I should, but that my walk with Jesus should be all God intended for it to be?  No matter the problem, prayer is the best response to any need.  Be honest with God about where you’re at.  As we’ve seen in all the various examples, we’ve looked at this month, God is faithful to answer our prayers!

Lord, please work in our hearts, restoring in us that vibrant devotion to prayer which was both evident in the early church and in us when we first came to know You!

We Love to Converse with Those We Love.  At the Heart of Devotion to Prayer is the Desire to Converse with Our Savior whom we Love and has So Loved Us

SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
that calls me from a world of care,
and bids me at my Father’s throne
make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
my soul has often found relief,
and oft escaped the tempter’s snare
by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
the joys I feel, the bliss I share
of those whose anxious spirits burn
with strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
where God my Savior shows his face,
and gladly take my station there,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
thy wings shall my petition bear
to him whose truth and faithfulness
engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since he bids me seek his face,
believe his word, and trust his grace,
I’ll cast on him my every care,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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