By the grace of God, in the upcoming Bible Witness Retreat (September 11-13), about 50 participants will be studying the prayers recorded in the Book of Acts under the theme, “Church: A People in Prayer”. In the previous retreat held in March 2019, we studied the prayers found in the earlier chapters of the Book of Acts.
It is indeed a special blessing to contemplate on the legacy of prayer recorded in the Scriptures. The Book of Acts mentions prayer to God about 50 times, thus making it as the book with the second-most reference to prayer in the New Testament book– the first being the Gospel of Luke. Of the 28 chapters of this book, 20 of them have references to prayer. When we study those instances of prayer in their specific contexts, many spiritual truths can be gleaned that will benefit our Christian life. Not only principles of prayer, but also many essential spiritual truths that will impact our personal and church life will be touched upon when we pursue the expository study of those prayers.
Since we are exhorted to be prayerful in everything (Philippians 4:6), the study of biblical prayers will provide lessons that would permeate every aspect of our life and ministry. It will provide us with biblical perspectives on various facets of godliness. Hence, we can expect our study of the prayers in Acts of the Apostles to provide biblical counsels that span beyond the spiritual exercise of prayer.
Prayer is communing with and communicating to God. It involves acts of worship – praise, thanksgiving, confession about God’s attributes and works – repentance, oath, vows, consecration, supplication, intercession, inquiring of God’s will, His guidance, His help, His blessing, etc. The attitudes expressed in prayers found in the Bible teach us about faith, submission and obedience to God’s Word, dependence on His promises, love for God and His church, commitment to His work, preoccupation with God’s glory, etc. That’s not all. The answers to the prayers recorded in the Bible teach us about God’s sovereignty, providence, wisdom, power, faithfulness, guidance, sufficiency, etc.
Acts records private prayers, as well as public prayers. All of the prayers recorded in Acts are vital to the fulfilling of the book’s major theme that believers may be witnesses in the power of the Spirit “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8). Prayer, as a vital factor, can be seen in the following instances: (i) as believers waited to receive the power (chap. 1); (ii) when the Jerusalem church was constituted and began its activities (2:42); (iii) in the performance of the apostolic ministry (9:40); (iv) in precipitating the release of the imprisoned apostles (4:24-30; 12:5, 16:25); (v) at the time of Stephen’s death (7:59-60) (vi); in sending missionaries (13:3); (vii) in establishing churches (14:23); (viii) at the time of bidding farewell (20:36; 21:5); etc.
These and other aspects of prayer in Acts will provide us with an exhilarating and edifying time of meditating on His Word. Let us gather together with great expectation of His blessing upon the retreat. We covet the prayers of the church for the blessing of the upcoming Bible Witness retreat.