I have often wondered how when Jesus is so amazing – his life, his power, his wisdom – and yet most of my life I have struggled to spend time with him in prayer. I want to enjoy him, but my own brain and experience seems to keep me at a distance. It’s also easier to do things for God than to partner with Jesus and to spend the time needed in prayer.
Guilt. Shame. Hard work. Failure. Boredom. These are the words that often accompany the description of my life in prayer, maybe you can relate? Is this how the first church thought about prayer? Was prayer their last resort or was it the start, middle and end of everything?
Acts 1.12-14 tells us that after Jesus was taken up to Heaven that this first community was sent back to Jerusalem to wait. They interpreted this as “pray.” I imagine that this was one of the longest, least anointed prayer meetings of all times. It was such hard work that they even stopped the prayer meeting to have a business meeting with elections – now, that’s a bad prayer meeting! But still, they returned to prayer and after ten days of night and day prayer we can see that there were still 120 people, meeting and praying when the Holy Spirit came on them in Power.
But this wasn’t the only prayer meeting that we read about.
- Acts 2.42 – The first 3000 members were devoted to prayers
- Acts 3.1 – Peter & John heal a lame beggar on their way to the 3pm prayers
- Acts 4.23-24 – Peter & John were tried and released and went to prayer meeting
- Acts 6.4 – The apostles began to see that they had a 2 fold ministry of prayer &
- teaching about Jesus
- Acts 12 – Peter was in jail, awaiting execution. An angel set him free and he went to find the prayer meeting.
So, if this is the default position of the first community that followed Jesus, could this be reality for you too? Let me suggest that God has a new plan for your life of prayer. Isaiah 56 makes a bold promise that prayer is intended for our joy.
I will … give them joy in my house of prayer.
God will – it’s certain, guaranteed, promised
Give us – foreigners, non-Jews, who have bound ourselves to God (this doesn’t exclude the Jews, it just opens the possibilities that God has more people than just the Jewish people).
Joy – full life – this is Jesus’ goal for us too – full life. (Read John 10.10)
In my House – not just a box where we worship and prayer, but a family of people who’s Father is God.
House of prayer – its the prophetic description that God has for his people. He wants it and it will be this way. A family who is a family of prayer. Jesus repeated this in Luke 19.46 – his house would be a house of prayer.
Today, let me invite you to take God at his word – He will, He does and He wants to give you joy in prayer. It’s not an empty activity for you to bang on the gates of heaven – it’s God’s invitation to be with Him and to partner in the work of seeing the Kingdom come on earth (in your family, work, school, boss) just like it is in heaven.
The goal is joy.
The process is joyful.
God likes you.