Journal Acts 1 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer—together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) … Acts 1:14-15
Observation: One accord; devotion to prayer—difficult to beat that formula to change the world.
Analysis: I find “devoting” myself to prayer difficult.
I am ok with occasional, short bursts of focus on prayer, or light but longer periods of “intending” to pray. But an entire church, in one accord, devotion to prayer? Wow! Impressive to say the least.
Wish I could do that. Not the church in one accord description; just me, in a single accord, devoting myself to prayer. Gotta start somewhere…
What would devotion to prayer even look like?
I think that it would take shape in at least 3 forms:
- Formal, public;
- Intentional, private;
- Informal but continuous conversation.
The way I would pray in public could (and probably should) be different in how I pray in private or continuous mode. There are guardrails to consider for public prayer. One of my guardrails is to not “preach” at someone in public prayer. If the subject is appropriate to pray for in public, it takes some deft pre-thinking to shape such prayers to be effective prayers to God. Preparation is the key for impromptu or spontaneous public prayer.
Intentional, private prayer has less guardrails, but the focus is on “intentional.” I have less success with this because it forces me to be disciplined—Greet the morning dawn in worship and prayer? Bring my supplications to God when the dew is still on the ground? Awake the night watchmen with my cry to God? Hardly. My so-called morning devotion probably stops with, “Thank you Lord for brewed bean juice, piping hot and ready to sip.” This is where “praying in tongues” works well because only God can translate “Ahhh” as a call to prayer.
Informal but continuous conversation is probably what I am most familiar with, but if I try to codify it like the scripture says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17) my natural man pulls up short and says “that’s impossible” although I really do it all the time—at least closer than the other two.
This is a journal entry without “victory” today. Out of all the spiritual disciplines a disciple should be taking up, prayer is among the ones that stops short in me.
By the way: All the readers that have Honda sedans, piling your small group in your car is not what “being in one Accord” means.
Prayer: Father God. I know that I fail often in prayer. I am not disciplined, I cannot construct a prayer that doesn’t include “Bless me, Lord, for this and that; give me this and/or that”, etc.
Help me to begin to focus on what pleases You, not what pleases me. Brush the webs from my eyes to see Your Hand and Your Presence everywhere. Make it spark in me to live according to you Word, that even if my mouth doesn’t say “For the Word of God says…”, my mind thinks that and searches for it all my days. AMEN