Most of us long for miracles. And Jesus’ perfect life, death on sinners’ behalf as the fulfillment of Passover, and His physical resurrection prove that He is willing and able to meet our greatest needs: complete forgiveness and a new heart to follow Him as our living King. But even in the Bible, most of the journey with Jesus is lived in the moments between miracles. In this 50-day series, we’ll consider some of those moments leading up to the next great miracle in the New Testament: the fulfillment of Pentecost and the incredible growth of the Church.
When you have an important task ahead of you, how do you prepare? I typically do a lot of thinking, make a list of required items and sub-tasks, prioritize that list, contact and collaborate with others through whom or with whom I will need to work, make sure I get a good night’s sleep and eat well before I start, and then I start praying…usually.
After the risen Lord Jesus had told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit and had given them their mission to be His witnesses (Acts 1:4-8), they stood staring into heaven as if He might come back any minute. But after the two men in white robes (probably angels) assured them of His return, they went back to Jerusalem as He had commanded. Then they along with several women began “devoting themselves to prayer.” (Acts 1:14) That was their first act of faith and obedience for the task ahead.
When we read the Psalms, Scripture’s primary revelation on what and how to pray, we see a few basic themes that define true prayer and its practical blessing to God’s people.
True prayer acknowledges that God is sovereign in His position over us. He has the right and the power to rule. Especially in cultures of do-it-yourself, maverick-mentalities, we may tend to come to God as if we rule our own lives and we just need to motivate or emotionally manipulate Him to help us. Acknowledging God’s rule immediately humbles us. But also remembering that He’s come to save a people for Himself through the work of Christ encourages us that we’re praying to a merciful and gracious God, not a distant dictator.
True prayer, therefore, meditates on how He has already revealed Himself: what He’s like, what He’s commanded His people to do, what He’s promised to the obedient and to the disobedient. The Lord is not a blank slate on which we can write our wishlist. The Father has a specific character, plan, and a specific Son and Spirit. And we only know Him by His revealed Word and His Spirit who opens our hearts to embrace His Word.
True prayer then begins to ask God to conform us to follow Him by faith in Him as He has already revealed Himself. We praise God for His good commands and promises. We thank God for His work of forgiving us and continuing to conform us to be more like Jesus. We ask God to guide and strengthen us to obey Him in what He will set before us today. As true prayer rests in Christ for all of these as our perfect Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Lord still calls us to be His witnesses in our lives and our verbal testimonies. Pray that He will prepare those opportunities for us. And pray that He will prepare our hearts for those opportunities.
I hope today’s thought and others in this series will be helpful to you as you journey with Jesus in the moments between miracles.