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Monday, May 27, 2013

Persevering Prayer

Disciples PrayThe apostles were all united in persevering prayer and petition together with the women, Jesus' mother Mary, and his brothers. Acts 1:14

They had been told to wait.

Jesus' followers had no idea how long they would have to wait. They just knew they had to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. Would it be hours? Days? Weeks? Months? How would they know when the Holy Spirit had come? Would He be visible? How would they react?

We have the benefit of being able to look back to the Day of Pentecost but they had no frame of reference except for a few words of Jesus promising them that His Spirit would dwell in them and comfort them and that they would receive power enabling them to tell the world about Him.

And so they waited, perhaps with some trepidation.

Imagine your self in a waiting room. What do you do while you sit there? Twiddle your thumbs? Read a magazine? Send text messages?

I remember Derek Copley, former Principal of Moorlands Bible College recalling a situation when he had been waiting for a student who was late for an appointment with him. He became increasingly irritated as time passed and the student failed to appear. Eventually she did arrive but by this time the Prin (as we affectionately called him) was quite angry and told her so, complaining that she had wasted his time. "Well," she responded, "you could have spent the time praying."

The disciples did pray as they waited. The apostles, the women who had accompanied them throughout Jesus' ministry and his family were united in persevering prayer. It seems that was their primary focus. There was really nothing to do but to keep praying that the Spirit would come to them. Nothing of any import was going to happen until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and so they prayed. And they went on praying.

How long will you persevere in prayer until God empowers you with His Holy Spirit? Will you wait until it happens or will you simply go off and do what you believe God wants you to do anyway?

As churches, bodies of God's people seeking to do his will, do we come together in unity and persevere in prayer until we know that the Holy Spirit has equipped us for the task ahead? Or do we make plans and pray that He will bless them?

I believe the poverty of power in the ministry of the church today, and in our individual Christian lives, is due to the fact that we have absolutely no idea what it means to persevere in prayer in the way the early church did. So we do not have the genuine revivals of the 18th and 19th century. Instead, we have a society in decay and a church following it rapidly into a rise of materialism and decline or morality.

May God forgive us and teach us to pray.

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