For the next few days I'm going to camp out in these verses, just thinking about different things they teach us as a whole. One of the big questions is why is this here? v1-8 focus on Jesus promise and the disciples mission and Jesus ascension, chapter 2 recounts the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and the joyous conversion of over 3,000. So why is what seems like a passage on internal disciple housekeeping in between? Why is this the meat in the sandwich of two of the most significant events in church history?
This passage shows us that things change as a result of the resurrection, ascension and their standing orders to take the gospel to the world. These things are foundational for the church.
As the disciples return to Jerusalem they gather together and they join together in prayer. They are waiting for the Spirit to come as Jesus said, waiting for that to happen before they take on the mission they have been left with. And this isn't private, individualised prayer. This is corporate prayer "They all joined together constantly in prayer." They are united in their prayers and devoted in their praying.
The church in it's embryonic moments model for us dependence on God. They aren't furiously learning a gospel outline or working out their leaflet drop strategy, or even practicing their testimony. They are praying, expressing their reliance on God and their inability in and of themselves. It becomes a pattern in Acts, they are quick to pray.
For many of us reading about prayer causes us to feel a sense of guilt or failure. Don't stop their, Satan loves using guilt to stop us praying, instead turn to God right now and talk about that guilt. God loves to hear us pray, focus on him rather than on the mechanics of prayer and talk to him right now about your struggles with prayer.
This prayer is also corporate, the church united together in prayer because they recognise that they are dependent on God. I can't help but wonder sometimes if part of our problem in prayer is that we don't pray together. There is something encouraging in praying with others, sharing the family concern for God's kingdom and name and our inability to take the gospel to the world unless God works by his Spirit. Why not look for as many opportunities as you can to pray with others? Before, during, or after church, with a friend during the week, with your church family at the prayer meeting or in gospel groups.
Prayer is God's gift to us, to me. It is a loving Father calling me, his redeemed child, to come to him and share my fears, hopes, dreams, losses and longings. It is a Father inviting me to express my need of him and to lean into him.