And in the early morning while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. –Mark 1:35 (NASB)
What one of the best examples the Lord Jesus Christ had left us during His earthly ministry? It was being a servant. Mark 10:45 says, “For the Son did not come to be served, but to serve…” (NASB). In His earthly ministry, our Lord set aside moments of prayer to God the Father amidst His busy daily activities. Such is the importance of having private moments with God through prayer.
The Lord took time to separate Himself from the crowd and from His heavy duties to be alone with God the Father, and it was during early in the morning (Mark 1:35). Don’t we too have such a great need? If Jesus Christ, the Almighty God, in His human state depended so much to His Father’s provision, then we must likewise depend as He did.
Friend, we could make sure to have a daily prayer moment so that we will be continually connected with our Father in heaven. Before anything else, would it be the best way to prepare ourselves for each coming day? Before we go out once more battling against the odds in our activities in this world, which tend to pull us into weariness and temptations.
Go into your inner room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in secret… –Matthew 6:6 (NASB)
Do you have a favourite place where you pray? In your inner room, or outside your home? Wherever it is, Jesus said, “Pray to your Father who sees you in secret, will repay you.”
Our Lord doesn’t care too much on who our audiences are when we draw near to the Father in heaven, but He is deeply concerned on why do we pray and on what kind of heart do we have; proud or humble?
In fact, Jesus Christ condemned any appearance of hypocritical prayer, displayed by the self-righteous people during His earthly ministry, for they delighted in themselves to know that other people openly watched them praying in public, and they have already received their reward from others , not from God. Our Lord taught us the proper intention or motive in praying which is not to please other people, but to personally and intimately communicate with God.
So, are you praying dear friend in secret places? That’s good, for you can be sure the Father in heaven will always meet you there. He who sees you in secret will graciously reward your humble means to communicate with Him.
When the Lord had gone up to heaven, His disciples' lives became quite different than before,
for they will no longer be with His physical presence and leadership; for the Holy Spirit will be
their unseen guide and source of power. Prior to this event, the disciples had already received the Great Commission (Mat.28:18-20) and now were waiting for the promised descension of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
What is next for them? Being informed about the kingdom of God and Christ's return, they were
together gathered at the upper room in 'one accord' - praying.
B.) The Disciples' Prayers in Acts
In Acts, chapter 2, the promised Holy Spirit had already descended (2:2-4) and afterwards the apostle Peter preached his first sermoun in public with the core message- the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour and Lord of all, (Acts 2:14-41) which resulted in the salvation of about three thousand souls (2:41), and one of the factors in the endurance of the disciples' ministry through the Holy Spirit was their dependence in God by prayer.
According to a Bible software1, we have the following number of occurrences of the disciples' prayers and variations of it in the Book of Acts:
a.) pray; six occurrences
b.) prayer; seven occurrences
c.) praying; two occurrences
d.) prayed; seventeen occurrences
Having a total of thirty-two (32) prayer occurrences, along with these, below are some selected verses with a short description of the disciples’ prayer activities and ministries:
1. In the upper room, praying in one accord were the eleven apostles with the women disciples, Acts 1:14
2. The first converts, gathering together in fellowship with prayers, Acts 2:42.
3. The apostles Peter and John inside the temple praying before they met a lame man, whom they healed afterwards, Acts 3:1.
4. The early church solving a problem, with the decision to continue in the ministry by praying and preaching the word of God, Acts 6:4.
5. The appointed men for service were prayed for by the apostles, Acts 6:6.
6. The apostles Peter and John prayed for the new believers from Samaria, Acts 8:15.
7. The Lord instructed Ananias to go to Saul of Tarsus, who was at Judas' house,
and he was praying, Acts 9:11.
8. The apostle Peter informing a centurion named Cornelius, that his prayer is heard by God, Acts 10:31.
9. Unceasing prayer was made by the church for the apostle Peter, who was at that time being imprisoned, Acts 12:5.
10. Fasting and prayer by the disciples before sending out the first missionaries, led by Paul and Silas, Acts 13:3.
11. Prayer by a riverside on a Sabbath day by Paul with Luke narrating, before they preached the gospel to the women there, Acts 16:13.
12. Midnight prayer by Paul and Silas imprisoned at Philippi, a city of Macedonia, Acts 16:25.
13. Paul and the Ephesian church prayed together before he left, ship-bounded towards Jerusalem, Acts 20:36.
14. Paul with Luke narrating, about to board in a ship, prayed on the shore with the disciples from Tyre, Acts 21:5
15. Paul with the ship’s crew in a shipwreck, prayed by thanksgiving before taking a meal, Acts 27:35.
As we may observe from Luke's account of the Book of Acts, the early church demonstrated that prayer is a dominant factor in their activities, depended upon God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to them. They understood that without prayer their spiritual lives and ministries would be weak and barren.
C.) Our Prayers
We are now living in a time when certain gaps exist between us and the first-century believers. In the Book of Acts we read their ‘then and there’ situations while in us exist the ‘here and now’ matters. Whatever proportion of our difference from them in time, culture, society, events and languages; as past and present time believers in the Lord Jesus Christ the principles of living taught us by the Bible and our motives in ministries or services to God remain unchanged, even gaps exist.
The environment and the ruling authorities will be different as time passes by but believers of every generation pray to the same Father in heaven through the mediatory work of the Son of God and by the guidance and sustenance of the Holy Spirit. All of what God has wrought and provided through the centuries to His redeemed people are of His abundant grace, mercy and faithfulness.
A sample list of prayer matters of present-time believers could be of the following,
though considered incomplete:
a. Prayer for and with fellow believers; for one another and prayer fellowships.
b. Prayer for unbelievers; friends and relatives, neighbors, etc.
c. Prayer for the government and authorities; local and national.
d. Prayer for various church ministries and missions, evangelism and outreaches.
e. Prayer for personal enemies and hostile people; persecutors, mockers.
f. Prayer for personal matters and own family.
So, it is our prayer life that helps us to keep going as we follow and abide in the Lord Jesus Christ, just as it did to His early disciples who depended continually upon the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance in their lives and ministries.
When our Lord was doing His earthly ministry, prayer was His source of fellowship and strength by constantly communicating with His Father in heaven, the same was with His early disciples and we too, as present time disciples are expected to, for a believer is spiritually weak in the absence or neglect of prayer. The apostle Paul instructed the church at Thessalonica to pray constantly, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, (1Thessalonians 5:17).
We may at times experience personal lapses in communicating with God, but this can be checked and can be corrected. If we are harbouring any unconfessed sin, we must deal with it immediately; confess it and ask forgiveness to Him, (1John 1:9; Psalms 66:18). As we live in a consistent prayer life, we are showing our sincere submission to the Lord and we are demonstrating our willingness to do His will and purposes in our lives and services to Him.
1(Bible software: e-Sword, version 10.4.0, copyright 2000-2104, Rick Meyers)
It is easy to be addicted to compliments but we should not rely on people's approval. Your value does not come from another person approval, it comes from the Creator. Paul teaches in the above verse that we are “complete in Him,” meaning Christ.
We need not rely on other people to make us happy. Apostle Peter loved Lord and was always there for Him but when Jesus needed Him the most at the cross, Peter was not there and he denied Jesus three times. Beloved those who celebrate you can also turn around to mock you. Only God endures till the end. God can lead us to kind people but it is important to understand that human beings are not all together perfect. Sometimes your love ones may be in a bad mood or had a hard day at workplace and may want to be left alone. Everyone has his or her challenges once in while, therefore and it will be totally unfair to give someone else the burden or responsibility of always making you happy, its selfish. No one is responsible for
your happiness, do not put that extra pressure on them.
People may make you feel special and you will feel special but if you are always depending on someone to make you happy, you become needy and insecure. We are complete in Christ. Life is dependent on how God sees you. When you know the Creator of the universe has His Spirit in you and approves you, you should live with your head high. He loved you before you woke up. We are self sufficient in Christ sufficiency.
You should not depend on people's applause, you need God's applause. And the Lord will turn the hearts of men for your sake. The Bible states; that when a man's ways pleases the Lord, He will cause even His enemies to be at peace with Him (Prov.16:7). Promotion does not come from people it comes from God.
The truth is, no one can meet all your needs only God can. The only one who can satisfy the human soul is the one who made it. Therefore the right attitude is; 'no one owes you anything, you are self- sufficient in Christ'. To expect another person to make you feel happy, secure and fulfilled will leave you disappointed at best and disillusioned at worst.
Even a great husband makes a very poor God. Only God Himself can settle those deep heart-needs. Our key verse, Philippians 4:19 reminds us of this, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” If a husband could meet every need his wife has, we’d have no need for God. So, instead of just focusing on finding the right partner, let God work on your heart to help you become the right partner. Marriage is a decision to honour God by honouring the one He has entrusted you.
Our goal as Christians is not to seek loved but to be what we want another to be. God wants you to be the conduit through which His character flows, you need to be a reflection of Him. Love is more of a decision you make than a feeling you feel. If you are looking for love then - “delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). We are complete in Christ, He is our only source of true joy.
Finally, humans are created to be exhausted and sleep off but only God is always awake and His hands comforts even while we are asleep. No human being can make you whole, only God can. Brethren, if you live for people's acceptance you will die of their rejection. Quit getting people to apologize to you for not giving you what Christ has already provided. Go to God.
On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life. -Joshua 4:14 (NASB)
Moses’ term of service was over; God had given him all of the tasks for him to do and the Lord wanted to give that work to someone else- it was Joshua’s turn. In Joshua 4:14, “On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life”. The responsibilities which Moses had is about to be shouldered by his successor, Joshua, so that they could live in Canaan peacefully by trying to prevent other nations surrounding Israel from invading their promised land.
The key phrase was, “the Lord exalted Joshua”, for the people accepted him as the next in line to Moses, as “they “revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life”.
Are you the next person to carry on a responsibility from your previous leaders? Remember, the Lord shall be with you always to grant you success and be prosperous; just as God had already promised it to Joshua in Joshua 1:8-9. God will help you graciously just as He did to your previous leaders. So be courageous and depend on the Lord God that you are the one who is next in line.