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Praying While Waiting

Acts 1:12-14
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (NIVUK)

Jesus had told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:4-5). So after He had ascended into heaven they obeyed. Walking the kilometre from the Mount of Olives they reached the upper room, inside the city, where they were staying. All the details sound like eye witness narratives, and they are. Luke is also keen to document the individuals present. If anybody doubted, they could ask those who were present.

The list of apostles totals eleven men (Judas Iscariot had previously committed suicide). Some of the names are different from other lists but is explained by Bartholomew being called Nathanael by John (John 1:45-49; 21:2), James the son of Alphaeus being the same as James the younger (Mark 15:40) and Judas son of James was Thaddaeus (Matthew 10:3). In addition the women who helped Jesus included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna (Luke 8:3), and of course, Mary the mother of Jesus. She was supported by her other sons James, Joses, Judas and Simon (Mark 6:3).

What were they doing in that upper room? Praying. They had kept meeting the risen Lord Jesus Christ over a period of 40 days, heard His last words and watched as He ascended to heaven. They heard His command to wait for the Holy Spirit and so they did what Jesus had done while He waited for every turning point in His ministry. He prayed and so they prayed. Nothing was more important than to align themselves with Jesus' words, the Father's will and be prepared themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. It was to be the pattern of 'prayer before action' which characterises Acts (Acts 13:1-3).

Waiting may evoke many thoughts and emotions: fear, anxiety, despair, complacency, impatience, activism, inertia … the list could go on. But believers need to know that there is a sacred space before the next big event; be it birth, marriage or death … awaiting news, the arrival of a person or the start of a project … and that space must be filled with prayer. Prayer expresses our deep desires to God, our praises, confessions, and our requests. It gives us time to hear His reaction so that we can pray more confidently about what is in His will, or realise that some desires are wrong. Then we must repent and ask Him to fill our hearts with what will please Him. So, if you are waiting, pray. Pray personally, pray with others, pray constantly and encourage one another to keep praying until the Lord reveals the next step (Ephesians 6:18).

Almighty God. Thank You for the example of the Lord Jesus who prayed while He waited. Forgive me for filling the waiting time with anxiety or activism, complacency or despair. Please teach me the priority of talking to You, exposing the depths of my heart so that I can see what You already know, and be willing to see things through Your eyes. Give me a heart of praise and confidence in Your loving sovereignty; give me a passion for Your will so that I may work with You so that You will be glorified. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams