Where in the Bible can we go to teach God’s people about commitment to the church? The church is likened to the bride of Christ, a family, the army of God – all connotate commitment. In Acts 2 the Spirit came; it is the birth of the New Covenant community. One of the Old Covenant promises is that in this new community all will know the Lord. That certainly can’t be said about the Old Covenant community. Not all those who belong to the visible church know the Lord. We certainly have pretenders and hypocrites. But the New Covenant community is marked as those who know the Lord.
In Acts 2, after they have embraced the Word, been baptized and join the church we read, “They devoted themselves…” In Acts the Holy Spirit is mentioned fifty times as the church and the apostles are brought into focus. When the apostles fulfill the commission given by Christ, two disciplines come into focus – prayer and preaching. God has ordained these two means to birth His church and maintain the health and growth of the church. Five different words for prayer occur forty-two times; the Spirit fifty times. Acts emphasizes prayer more than any other book. The church is committed to prayer.
There are five key activities to which the early church is devoted: teaching & learning, loving one another, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper – the worship of the church, and prayer. The main verb is “devoted”. Other translations render it “constant”, “unremitting”, “steadfast”, “perseveringly”. This is mentioned several times in Acts 1:14; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2 – they devoted themselves to prayer. One of the greatest distinctives of the church of Christ is prayer. Spurgeon would often take visiting preachers down to the basement of the Metropolitan Tabernacle to show him those who were gathered in prayer. Spurgeon would say, “Here is the powerhouse of the church.” You can’t explain Spurgeon’s effective and Spirit-filled preaching ministry apart from the church praying.
When Jesus illustrates prayer, he uses the parable of the perseverant widow. There is much pressure today to cease praying; the Devil doesn’t want us to pray because of its importance. We need to remind ourselves of the priority to pray. Spurgeon said, “There is no deeper conviction than this, that prayer is the most efficient spiritual energy in the Universe next to the Holy Spirit.