We’ve just celebrated Pentecost Sunday. So much can be said about this great event in our history, but let me focus on the issue of prayer.
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” – Acts 1
The fifty days between the first Easter and the Feast of Pentecost were characterized by two activities for the ancient Christians: Jesus’ in-depth teaching and the disciples’ devoted praying.
For forty days Jesus taught his disciples about the Kingdom of God and opened the Scriptures to them so they could see how these testified of him. The experience of the Emmaus Road travelers who found themselves listening to Jesus along the way was no doubt replicated in the hearts of all who heard him: “Did not our hearts burn within us…as he opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24). Then Christ ascended, promising his followers that he would send the Spirit to empower them for the global mission he’d entrusted to them. The disciples’ response to the Ascension was to ‘continue’ in prayer; they didn’t ‘start’ to pray or ‘stop’ praying, but instead ‘continued’ to pray.
And then the Spirit came.
Pentecost – what a moment!
That great effusion of the Spirit that fulfilled the ancient prophetic longings and promise, and ushered in the new age of the new covenant, this grand public announcement that the crucified One was the risen and reigning One, exploded on Jerusalem with hurricane velocity winds and an unquenchable, in-extinguishable conflagration that stunned the city and led to the conversion of thousands.
Look again at what preceded that day.
The ancient disciples listened to the Scriptures prayerfully. They waited for the promise prayerfully. Then they received the Spirit prayerfully.
As must we.
Do we long for the Spirit to ignite our hearts afresh as the Scriptures are opened to us? Do we long to know the empowering presence of God flowing in and through our lives? Do we seek an ingathering of souls here and around the world that glorifies the Lord of the harvest?
Then let us pray. Let us continue to pray!
In prayer, we lift our hands, not only in praise but surrender.
We surrender control of today and the future to the Creator
We surrender our sins to the Redeemer
We surrender our dreams for self in order to seek first the King and his Kingdom
We surrender our reputations for the priority of Christ’s glory
We surrender our comfort for his cross
In so doing, we invite the attention of God who seeks the humble, the worshiper, and the broken, contrite soul. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His…” (2 Chronicles 16:9). On Pentecost God found such people.
May he find them again, here; may he find us, listening, waiting, seeking, praying. And may he answer with fire from heaven.
O Heavenly King, Spirit of Truth and Comforter, everywhere present and filling all things; Great Giver of Life, come to us, abide in us, cleanse us, save us, and fill us, O Gracious Lord. Amen.
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