- "Bo" James R. Crowe
Luke 11.1-4 (NRSV)
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
Acts 1.1-2, 4-11 (NRSV)
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Christians celebrate the weeks between Easter and Pentecost as the great fifty Days. This corresponds to the period of time Jesus’ disciples waited in Jerusalem for God’s empowerment to ministry. We have a tendency to take this period for granted, a time of little significance, because all the disciples did was wait around, twiddling their thumbs.
But is this really true? Were they simply killing time until something exciting happened, like descending tongues of fire and the wind of the spirit? I would say the answer is a resounding no. According to Luke’s narrative, this time was spent in prayer; a time of spiritual preparation for whatever God had in store for them. This may not seem as exciting as tongues of fire, but it is equally significant. Think about it. The church didn’t appear out of thin air. Its appearance was preceded by prayer. The ground was prepared by hearts opened earnestly to God.
Prayer and church are intimately related, so to understand God’s church, it is necessary to understand prayer. This line of thought led us to our worship focus between Easter and Pentecost. We propose to study Our Lord’s Prayer, the prayer from the lips of Jesus uttered in response to that heartfelt request, “Lord, teach us to pray”; and to see how much of this prayer was reflected in the early church. Was it faithful to the prayer? Did the disciples “get it,” so to speak, and incarnate this prayer in the early church?
These are good questions, and we stand to learn a good bit about the early church in answering them. But we won’t stop there. We will go on to ask how the church in our day stands up to Our Lord’s Prayer. This inquiry promises to be both enjoyable and spiritually fruitful, and I invite you to join us Sunday mornings at 8:30 or 10:30.