This continues a series of articles on the distinguishing marks of the infant Christian church. The infant Christian church’s devotion to prayer comprises its fifth distinguishing mark (Acts 2:42).
In the original Greek, the word often translated “prayer” is pluralized and preceded by the Greek article. Literally, we would render the Greek, “the prayers” and not simply “prayer.” The members of the infant church not only devoted themselves to the act of prayer, but they devoted themselves to regular routine times of prayer. They did not pray only at times they felt moved to pray but established regular times to gather together and pray. A healthy church prays regularly and routinely. Prayers do not simply punctuate the end of a song or fill a liturgical role in the service, but flow from the heart of those who make these times of regular prayer foundational to their lives.
Luke showed us the believers praying before. Before the day of Pentecost, they were in a room praying regularly, likely for the power from on high Jesus promised (Acts 1:14) . Luke will show us again, time after time, the early church praying (e.g. Acts 3:1). Prayer gives the church her lifeblood.
The scholar Dr A. T. Pierson once said, “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.” Charles Spurgeon was said to have a group regularly meeting in the steam cellar of the church for the sole purpose of praying for the ministry of the church. It was said of John Knox that one day when he went into the room he often withdrew to, his wife followed him. When she entered, she heard him pleading to God in broken sentences, “Lord, wilt thou grant me Scotland.”
The prayer life of a congregation serves as one of the spiritual barometers that measures a congregation’s health. Is your congregational prayer life healthy? Is your individual prayer life for your congregation’s ministry healthy? If you cannot answer in the affirmative, drop what you are reading and fall on your knees. Your Lord calls you; will you listen?
For those looking to pray for our county, I invite you to join a group of us Mondays by the flagpole near the courthouse in Wellsboro at 4pm (or a little thereafter). Many prayers go from that place weekly for the welfare of our community. It matters little your denomination, only your willingness to join fellow brothers and sisters in beseeching Christ for times of refreshing to come to the people in our community.