Time for Prayer

[reprinted from April 1, 2010]

– Henry Neufeld

14All of the disciples were devoting themselves to prayer together, along with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.          Acts 1:14 (HN)

That’s a pretty unpretentious little bit of scripture! It doesn’t seem like there’s much there to build on.

But think about the situation. It has been a roller-coaster ride for the disciples. First they think Jesus is going to drive out the Romans and restore the kingdom. Then he’s arrested and crucified. Their hopes are dashed. But then again there are rumors he’s been resurrected. Finally they actually see him. So, as they ask in Acts 1:6, is it finally time to restore the kingdom? But no, it’s not, and Jesus goes away from them to heaven and leaves them standing there staring.

One of the critical things here is that they kept following a pretty strict and clear agenda of their own. They wanted to see Israel restored, right then, miraculously by Jesus. Their plan was that Jesus would take care of it. The problem was that they didn’t yet recognize just what the difference was between their agenda and that of Jesus.

But now they’re finally ready to get on the program—the one Jesus planned. So they start together, constantly devoting themselves to prayer, being together. The text suggests unanimity. Notice the different groups. There are the disciples who followed him, his mother who questioned him, and his brothers who had opposed him. There were also some unidentified women who had been following him as well. Luke likes to let us know that there were women involved.

They gather together and agree on one thing at least: Pray! So there they are praying.

How often would we be able to resolve problems in our congregations, families, and other groups if we would simply agree to pray together? Too often we have preconditions even to prayer. We want to figure out who has God’s ear before we go talk to God. But if we would just pray and trust God to do his work, think of the possibilities. Let God change other people. Don’t you try to do it.

How often would we discover the problems in our own agendas if we spent time in prayer and listening to God? The disciples had their agenda problems, and those needed to be solved before Pentecost. How did they do it? They gathered together and prayed.

Too often we want to imagine our way forward several steps before we’re willing to “just pray.” Don’t bother deciding how God has to solve the problem. Don’t ask who has God’s ear. Don’t put time limits on the results or social limits on who can participate.

Just pray. Together.

Medley from the University Ensemble of Eastern Kentucky University (1971)

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