The setting is Jerusalem and it was in an upper room where “they” gathered. Among “them” were men and women, as well as some who are particularly named: eleven apostles, Mary the mother of the Lord, and His brothers.
These believers had just heard the last words of Jesus, and witnessed the incredible sight of Him ascending to Heaven, after which two angels appeared in white clothing to tell them that He would surely return the same way.
Part of Jesus’ final instructions to them was to wait in Jerusalem until the Comforter — the Holy Spirit — came to them. So that’s what they did. From their location in the Mount of Olives, they travelled a “sabbath day’s journey” = 1000 yards to the city.
Immediately, they went there to wait and pray because they believed great things would happen if they did.
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
What do WE think will happen when WE pray?
The English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote the famous slogan, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Even he, as an unbeliever, knew the importance of Christians praying!
Do we REALLY believe in the importance of praying? Do we believe that He is capable of doing wonders when we pray?
2 Chronicles 7:14 has an amazing promise for God’s people worth marking in your Bible. It was given to Solomon, it pertains to us today, but it comes with a condition:
If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves , and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
If we are going to see God moving in our country, our province, our city, our home, or our family, we must humble ourselves and pray!
Flashback to the 1859 Revival in Ulster
Before God sent revival to Ulster, four young men prayed very earnestly. Why? The state of the church was described by one minister who lived at the time:
“Our condition was deplorable. The congregation seemed dead to God, formal, cold, prayerless, worldly, and stingy in religious things. Twice I tried a prayer meeting of my elders, but failed; for after the fifth or sixth night I was left alone. Great was my disappointment, as year after year passed, yet still no fruit, no outpouring of the Spirit. I wondered and was grieved at what seemed so mysterious. What alarmed me most was the almost hostility of the people to meetings for prayer. They seemed mostly to think that they were well enough, and that I was unnecessarily disturbing them. I had never been so despondent or distressed as during the weeks immediately preceding the awakening. I had almost ceased to hope. I felt as if I was almost alone, no one mourning or praying with me; and I told my people I was appalled at their determination to have no prayer meetings, and that we would not have a drop of the shower of grace…” which was going round, but would be left utterly reprobate”.
“Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932)
HOW did the believers in Acts 1 pray?
1. They were obedient.
Jesus told them to “wait” (ch. 1:4) in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the gift of the Holy Spirit. So they waited and prayed for the promise to be fulfilled. They didn’t procrastinate, they got right to it.
God has given us “exceeding great and precious promises” — we need to obediently bring them before the Lord in prayer.
2. They were urgent.
That’s a big problem today. No urgency. “I’ll pray when I get time.” These men and women were immediate in getting to that upper room away from the distraction of the world around them to seek their God. So must we!
3. They were expectant.
These folks believed what God said would happen would happen. They did not doubt or waiver. They prayed in faith believing that the Holy Spirit would come as Jesus had promised.
“And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:15
4. They were constant.
They did not give up! They “continued” in prayer. The Greek word suggests perseverance. How often have you been tempted to stop praying for someone or something when the answer didn’t come immediately? This is an important example for us to keep on and not give up. Continuous prayer was the power of the New Testament church.
5. They were united.
How important their unity was at a time like this. Urgent business was before them — this was no time to be divided on minor issues. They had to pull together for a common cause. The Greek “with one accord” is actually “with one mind” — they needed to have their minds focused in prayer and supplication. It is easy to waste a lot of time disagreeing with fellow believers on trivial, secondary, or unimportant issues (like what colour the paint in the church bathroom should be). These people had unity of purpose as they gathered in that upper room.
What united them?
- saved by the same Saviour
- redeemed by the same blood
- desired to be filled by the same Spirit of God
- shared the same burden for the lost
- served the same Lord
- separated unto the same Gospel
We can’t have unity in Christ if those things are not present. When they are present, it is a beautiful unity — the same that David spoke of.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
How counterproductive it is for God’s people to be bickering over silly things like the colour of the carpet in the church or because the minister went five minutes over the regular time or what has bothered you recently? _____________________________________________
We need to leave all this malice aside and focus on the urgent needs surrounding us. Getting to prayer is serious business — the Master’s business.
6. There were both genders represented in that upper room of prayer.
Does that not encourage us women to know that the Lord mentions His mother and “the women” in that prayer meeting with the apostles and his own brothers? There was a place for the women to lay hold upon God as there is a place for us!
Think of the blessing received by those women who were at that prayer meeting! They witnessed the power of God unleashed supernaturally! They saw tremendous answer to prayer which they would never forget!
7. They were not disappointed!
God moved on the day of Pentecost and they were there again together (ch.2:1) when the Spirit came in mighty power as a “rushing mighty wind” and “filled the house”; they saw the symbolic tongues of fire and heard men speak in other languages as there were people of “every nation under heaven” gathered who were now able to hear the Word of the Lord miraculously in their own language.
“And the multitude came together, and were confounded because that every man heard them speak in his own language. (2:6).
These men and women had the privilege of seeing and hearing all this. All because they were present when God chose to send His Spirit.
How sad it would be if we were absent when God chose to move among the people in our church!
God answered their prayer in such a marvellous way that the Day of Pentecost goes down in history as the greatest awakening the world has ever known. God has also sent His Spirit in special awakenings in more recent times as well. For example, the Isle of Lewis revival from 1949-50 happened as a result of God’s people praying — particularly two old ladies in their eighties. They unitedly and continually called upon God until He answered. And He did!
May God open our minds to realize that PRAYER does change things! Prayer is the most valuable contribution we can make to the work of God because it can work miracles of God’s grace among us.