Prior to His death, Jesus stated emphatically that He would build His Church. He had also promised His followers that the Holy Spirit would come. In the book of Acts, we see the fulfillment of these declarations. The Day of Pentecost was significant in many ways. In Chapter 2, we read of the birth and the building of the Church. The Holy Spirit was called by our Lord, the Comforter, or the one who would walk alongside believers. The Holy Spirit was sent to comfort and to construct the church.
In his last statements before His ascension to heaven, He made it clear what the mission of the Church is to be when He said, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” Our subject is “Making Disciples.” The word disciple is used to describe a person who is fully committed to the journey of becoming like Jesus.
On the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 people became believers. At the close of chapter 2, we are told that people were being added daily as they were being saved. An all-important question is how were these new believers being discipled? In Acts 2:42-47, we see the process. They were: Sound in Doctrine, Strong in Fellowship, Steadfast in Prayer, and Successful in Witness. In 2019, we have been focusing on the first two keys to this process. As we begin the third quarter of this year, our focus will be on being
Steadfast in Prayer!
Prayer is one of the distinguishing elements in the gathering of believers. Verse 42 states, “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.” Let’s look at the word “prayers.” The plural use of the word prayer indicates they prayed often in their times together. It is so vital for us to know that the use of the plural refers not only to the number of times they prayed but also the nature of their prayers.
Many Christians think of prayer as asking God for the things and the outcomes that they desire; however, there are different aspects of prayer. In addition to the word prayer, we read in scripture about supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings. The following is a brief description of these types of prayers:
The most basic of prayers is when we ask God for our concerns and needs in relation to His promises. Learning to pray the scriptures—or word prayer—is one of the most powerful spiritual weapons available to all disciples. When we pray the scriptures, we are calling on what He has said. It’s not that He needs to be reminded of what He has said as though He has somehow forgotten, but rather an indication that we have been in His Word and are believing His Word and trusting in the many promises of God.
Supplications refer to the times we are asking in relation to the mercy of God. David, in the Old Testament prayed, “Lord be merciful unto me.” Jesus told the story of the religious man going into the temple to pray. This man prayed for God to recognize how good he was without acknowledging how needy he was. This man obviously believed that God owed him a favor and that he was deserving of whatever he asks. Another man, a common man, went to the temple to pray. The second man simply cried out to God saying, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner.” This man understood that we should never ask for what we deserve but rather for the mercy God has provided through the sacrifice of His son and our Savior.
Intercessions are the prayers we offer in relation to the purposes of God. Interceding is when we pray for people and situations. This type of prayer is what we see in our Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Intercession should be part of the prayer life of a true disciple as well as His Church.
Thanksgivings are the prayers we offer in relation to the goodness of God. We all have so much to be thankful for. Paul teaches us that we should give thanks to God in everything. We are also taught, “every good and perfect gift comes from our father in heaven.” As we often sing, “You’re a good, good Father, it’s who You are… and I’m loved by You.” A wonderful practice for our devotion time is to remember and rehearse in His presence how good He is and to say out loud the times He has shown Himself good in our lives.
Steadfast in Prayer
The word steadfast is to be unwavering, committed, consistent, and dependable. What blessings will be ours if we would pray in every facet of prayer? There is an old song that was sung so long ago that I remember from my boyhood years called, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.”
“What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in Prayer.”
Can you and I agree together to become more steadfast in prayer? I am confident that if we do so, we will benefit in so many ways and others will be blessed because of our prayers.