“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
(Acts 1:12–14 ESV)
If you had a fancy paper bible and some colored pencils, it would be a fun game to color every reference to prayer in the book of Acts with the color green.* Sometimes it seems like the Apostles just do stuff by their own decisions. They do – sort of.
They pray a lot. Here they are meeting and praying for 10 days. They’ve been walking around for 40 days with Jesus popping into their locked rooms and showing up on the beach unexpectedly. (Take a minute dwell on that!)
They have this meeting place in Jerusalem that was probably their main hangout. It was probably a rooftop patio that would provide some privacy because it’s up off of the street level, but if they got loud, people on the street could hear them.
You also have to wonder about what their prayer was like. At this point, Jesus has just ascended into heaven and told them that they are going to tell the whole world about Him.
There is a place for intercession and prayer for the sick, but it doesn’t seem like that’s what was going on here. There are no mentions of people being brought to the disciples for prayer or any miracles being done.
So what did they pray?
We have no idea and to suggest anything would be conjecture, but I think this is one of those sections that could be prescriptive. They prayed for 10 days and in a book full of miracles and fabulous works of God, nothing like that is mentioned. Ok, sure, spoiler alert, something pretty awesome happened at the end of the 10 days, but we’re not there yet.
It would seem that there is a kind of prayer that isn’t asking for anything. There is a way to pray, that we could participate in for several days, that might just be praising God, proclaiming His goodness, and considering how great He is.
I had a roommate once that always quoted one of his seminary professors: “Before you can pray all night, you have to learn to sleep on your knees.” I think the same goes for this. I think before you can learn to pray for 10 days, you have to learn how to pray multiple times a day – and then keep going.
It helps that the disciples were all ‘with one accord’ devoting themselves to prayer. As we pray together and with one another, we learn more different ways to pray. We learn more ways to work prayer into our every-day.
- This is done in a Bible study method called Inductive Bible Study and it is worth looking into. It’s a great way to slow down and study the Bible. Any local Christian book store will have the tools to do this.