June 13, 2014
Acts 1:12-14 (in context)
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
They did not know what to do, so they prayed.
It reminds me of the early days in my own calling to ministry. I’d just graduated from law school. Several very attractive job offers stood before me. Then there was this group of teenagers I had been working with at my local church for the past three years. Next, through a strange and surprising turn of events the church offered me the job to serve as the full time youth pastor. Deep within me I knew this was the path and I accepted the church job. And I knew absolutely nothing about how to be a professional youth minister. I had no training to speak of, other than a little experience as a volunteer.
Did I mention I had not the first clue of what to do next? In an act of sheer desperation, I invited the kids’ mothers to join me for a time of prayer at the church on a Wednesday morning after they dropped them off at school.
We did not know what to do, so we prayed.
And in those years, week after week after week, together on our knees, those mothers taught me everything I needed to know about youth ministry.
Something about praying when you have no idea of what to do takes prayer to a stratospheric level. It’s not the prayer of pious duty but the prayers of desperation that lead to the earth shaking advance of the Kingdom.
I want to point out what I consider to be a “watch-word” in today’s text. When it says, “they all joined together constantly in prayer,” an explosive Greek word is just under the surface. The word (transliterated) is proskartereo. The word means extreme focus, an undivided-ness of attention, a singularity of mind, a devoted-ness of heart. It is the confidence of holy desperation.
To suggest the group in Jerusalem held a prayer meeting would be a reckless understatement. To suggest those moms and I were holding churchly prayer gatherings misses the point.
The point comes in this watchword: proskartereo. We will see it again and again as we trek through Acts. In fact, wherever we see this word in Scripture, we find the Holy Spirit at the door.
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
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