Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Acts 2:42 - Fellowship and prayer

Luke tells us that the members of the church in Jerusalem had fellowship with one another. Fellowship is more than meeting together, it is meeting together to share Christian realities. I suspect what Luke has in mind here is less formal, mutual edification. It would have involved practical expressions of brotherly love (after all, many of these converts were not from Jerusalem, but must have stayed on to learn more about their new faith before they returned home), and no doubt there were many expressions of thankfulness as those in need received from those who had plenty to give.

Yet their fellowship was also verbal. We can imagine these disciples standing together after the address by an apostle and saying to one another, ‘That teaching did me good. It spoke to a situation I was facing this week. Let me tell you about it.’ And his friends, after hearing about it, would promise to pray for him.

Or another might say, ‘I did not fully grasp what Peter said today.’ His friends would then try and explain it, or if they could not, they would say, ’Let’s go and ask Peter what he meant.’ Such interaction is a very effective means of writing biblical truth in our hearts.

Since fellowship is such an important aspect of church life, we will give another two or three readings to thinking about it. Prayer too is very important and it was the fourth feature of early church life, along with teaching, fellowship, and communion. Many things can be said about prayer. Prayer is an expression of dependence on God, and the degree we pray reveals the extent of our dependence. In addition, prayer is an expression of our expectation of God, of what we understand his promises and abilities to be. It is not a sign of unbelief to pray often for the same blessing; rather repetition is an expression of ardent desire to receive from God.

Obviously, we can pray by ourselves and receive answers to our prayers. Yet private prayer can never be a substitute for corporate prayer, and it is wrong to engage in private prayer if we should be at the corporate prayer meeting at that time. It also seems to be the case that answers are given to corporate prayer quicker and in greater degree than with answers to private prayer.

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