Pattern of Prayer
Often when we study the Scriptures, we look at verses, pericopes, and chapters. Recently, in considering prayer, I was curious how often prayer occurred in the book of Acts as a whole. I often hear people say things like “we need to get back to the book of Acts”. Dealing with this phrase is worthy of a post of its own, it is often based on some wrong assumptions, but I suggest we do look at Acts again and consider the emphasis that Luke, under Spirit-inspiration, puts on prayer in the early church.
Acts 1, gathered together in prayer in the upper room.
Acts 2, church birthed at a prayer meeting; Continued in prayer together daily.
Acts 3, Peter and John heal the lame man as they were going to pray.
Acts 4, brethren in trouble so church prays.
Acts 6, devoted themselves to prayer.
Acts 7, Stephen prays for his persecutors.
Acts 8, Apostles pray for new believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9, Ananias comforted because Saul is praying.
Acts 10, Peter prays and is called to Cornelius.1
Acts 12, Church gathered praying for Peter.
Acts 13, The Church is praying and sending out missionaries.
Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas prayed for the new church plants.
Acts 16, Paul and Silas pray from prison.
Acts 17, Paul’s spirit is stirred for Athens resulting in prayer.2
Acts 18, Paul prays in Corinth.3
Acts 19, Disciples in Ephesus are prayed for.
Acts 20, Paul prays with the Ephesian elders.
Acts 21, the Church in Tyre, Syria prays.
Acts 22, Paul speaks about his praying in the Temple.
Acts 23, Paul was in prayer in the night.3
Acts 27, Paul prays for all those on the storm tossed ship.4
Acts 28, Paul prays for Publius to be healed on Malta.
In looking at the book of Acts through this lens, I have been stirred to prayer. In our independent society, we can easily lose sight of our absolute dependence on God, and our church’s dependence on God. I believe it was Tozer who said that if the Holy Spirit ceased working in the early church, 90% of the work would cease, but if the Holy Spirit ceased working in the church today, 90% would continue. Spurgeon was right when he said “Prayer is the lung of the church”. My God replace our asthmatic prayer life with deep breaths of dependence on God, and may we, as pastors, model a lifestyle of strong healthy prayer as if we are one breath away from death.
1 10:9-‐16, Prayer is seen in Peter’s dialogue with Jesus.
2 17:16, I take it that Paul’s spirit being stirred suggests that Paul began to pray.
3 18:9-‐10; 23:11, The Lord speaking to Paul implies prayer.
4 27:23-‐25, An angel being dispatched to strengthen Paul strongly suggests Paul was in prayer.