“They devoted themselves… to prayer.” Acts 2:42
A recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 48 percent of Americans pray every day. Most, over 80%, pray for family or friends. About 13% pray for their sports team. One in five pray to win the lottery. Small numbers pray for someone to get fired or to fail. Clearly we believe as a nation that prayer is communicating with a spiritual authority, and that it serves some meaning to ask for things that we want, or we want to happen. But, is this what prayer is meant for?
In the New Testament we see prayer on the part of Christ-followers much differently. As the early church was devoted to the teaching of the Apostles, they were also devoted to prayer. By turning from their Jewish faith and embracing Jesus, they were shunned by their families, cut off, bullied. Yet they followed the teachings of Christ and prayed for their enemies and those who would do them harm. They understood that prayer was a privilege. Never before had God allowed a one-on-one relationship with them. Their only connection to Him up to this point was sacrifices at the Temple. Now God was listening to their very words, by His grace and the gift of His Son, Jesus.
Have you prayed today? Have you prayed for those who have mistreated you? Have you prayed for those who are your enemies? What about those you know who are far from God? Have you asked God to bless you, or to turn His blessings toward those who have much less than you do? What is the objective of your prayers? Take time when you pray to talk to God not as a “grantor of wishes,” but rather as the One that you follow and Whose mission you are on. Ask God in prayer to reveal to you His goals and desires for you. Let prayer be a time when you begin to ask God for what He wants, versus what you might want.
God, thank You for the gift of prayer. Thank You that I no longer have to go through a priest or to the Temple as the People of Israel did. Thank You that I can talk to you one-on-one. I have so many things that I want in life. But I ask You to reveal Your wants and desires for me. Help me to understand my purpose in Your mission, so that I can make the most of my time on earth by being devoted to You. Let my wants be Your wants. Give me a passion through prayer to know You more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.