Between Jesus’ ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9) and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) the first church found itself in an in-between time, waiting for what Jesus had promised. They spent this time seeking God in “constant” (continuous and persistent) prayer. Our church can learn from them, prioritizing prayer as the fuel that drives everything else, and seeking God’s will as we anticipate hiring an additional pastor. Not only that, but as individuals we must make prayer a priority in our own lives, especially when it comes to making significant decisions.
Acts 1:14a –They all joined together constantly in prayer.
Have you ever seen something particularly powerful or miraculous happen in response to prayer? Share your stories.
Looking at Scripture:
Prayer is mentioned twice in the passage we read on Sunday (Acts 1:12-26), setting a rhythm that is repeated throughout the rest of the book. Use the following exercise to explore prayer as a theme in the book of Acts:
· On computer: Use BibleGateway.com to search for “pray” (includes pray, prayer, prayed, prays, etc.). Scroll down on right side and click “Acts” to narrow the search
· On smartphone: Use Bible Gateway App. Click menu on top left, then search. Turn off the button that says “Search Entire Bible,” then choose Acts to Acts as search range. Click magnifying glass in top right, and search for “pray” (again, includes other forms)
· This should give you about 34 different occurrences. Some of these are passing references that don’t give us insight (such as “the time of prayer” mentioned in 3:1).
· However, others illustrate a church that continually went to God in prayer. Divide up the ones that seem worth looking into and have different members of the group read one (or more) in context and report:
1. What was the occasion/situation?
2. What was the content of the prayer?
3. What happened as a result of the prayer?
4. What can we learn about prayer from this passage, as a church and as individuals?
Why do you think people and churches struggle with prayer today? What obstacles (practical, spiritual, emotional, etc.) keep us from taking everything to God?
Do you think MCC is a praying church? Why/why not? How could we become more prayerful?
Make a list of the top ten things you think we should be praying about as a church (hopefully this will include our efforts to hire an additional pastor). Then take a few minutes as a group to pray forour church andas our church.
Make a list of things that you would like to pray for personally, and commit to pray for them every day for the next 30 days. Include:
· Situations you’re not satisfied with
· Decisions you need help with
· People who need something
· Those who need to trust Jesus
Jeremy suggested a few ways to increase our emphasis on prayer at MCC. Which of them could you implement?
· Praying for the church regularly, as a discipline (set aside time/space)
· Emphasizing prayer to a greater extent in meetings, small groups, etc.
· Getting on the prayer team schedule to occasionally pray before the services
· Showing up at 9:30 to pray before service even if not scheduled
· Coming to prayer meeting at the McClungs Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. (or hosting your own prayer meeting
· Praying specifically for our hire of an associate pastor