It has been said, that the ‘description’ of the activities of the early church was a ‘prescription’ of essentials that are needed for a vibrant and thriving fellowship. Luke summed it up in Acts 2:42, by telling us that “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Inspired teaching, fellowship, eating together or sharing communion, and praying. Does that describe our churches today? If someone new were to attend our services, and asked to describe what they had experienced, what would they say? Would ‘they devoted themselves to prayer’ be in the top of their list? While prayer is certainly present in most churches, does it play a primary role, or is it only used as the ‘wrapping’ for the service. A prayer to begin, and a prayer to end.
I find this both interesting and challenging. What would our services look like if prayer played a more prominent role in what we do? The Apostle Paul made prayer a priority, when he said, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Nothing to do with politics, just a heart for obedience, and a desire to live peaceful and quiet lives.
So why is prayer primary? Maybe it’s as simple as God wanting to be a part of what we are doing – wanting to be in the midst of it all. If you’re a parent, I think you’ll understand. It’s just like having all of your children gathered around you, interacting with them individually and together, all at the same time. They are ‘communing’ and ‘communicating’ with each other – and with you! The root of both words is the same, meaning ‘to share or transmit’. Perhaps if we viewed prayer in this way, we would begin to give it the priority it deserves. If we do, we will most certainly be described as a people devoted to prayer.