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Monday, March 09, 2009

Corporate prayer in Acts

One of the reasons that the early church grew, in spite of persecution, of having to learn to communicate across cultures, and of other obstacles, was that they prayed together.

It wasn't the only reason, of course. Also, I do not wish to downplay the role of private prayer, which is also important, probably more important than group prayer.

I attempted to find all of the cases where the early church prayed as a group, in Acts. I may have missed some, and some of the cases I found are questionable, but here goes. I shall list the reference, with a link to the ESV, and give some idea of the occasion.

1:13-14 The first recorded action of the early church was corporate prayer, apparently repeated often.

1:15-26 When Judas was replaced.

2:1 At Pentecost. (The Bible doesn't say that they were praying, merely that they were gathered together, but perhaps they were praying, as evidenced by the first reference above.)

2:42 One of the four activities of the early church mentioned in this verse is corporate prayer.

4:23-26 After the release of Peter and John.

6:6 After the selection and commissioning of the first deacons. (I found no record of group prayer before they were selected. It may have happened, and not been mentioned.)

12:5-16 When Peter was arrested.

13:2-3 At the commissioning of Paul and Barnabas. Verse 2 says that they were "worshiping the Lord and fasting" when these men were selected (before they were commissioned) probably including prayer, but it doesn't say so specifically.

16:13-14 Paul and his team went to a place that they supposed was used for Sabbath morning group prayer. The Bible doesn't explicitly say that they prayed there, or even that they went there for the purpose of praying. Maybe, maybe not.

16:16 The team was going to the place of prayer, perhaps for the purpose of praying, although we can't be certain of that.

16:25 Paul and Silas prayed together in jail. This is the smallest group possible, and was not a congregation, but I mention it for completeness.

20:36 Paul prayed with the Ephesian elders.

That's eight sure examples of group prayer in Acts, and four more that are possible examples.

I have previously posted on "Prayer in the New Testament," a post not about who the early church prayed with, but what they prayed for. In it, I conclude, and quote scripture to prove it, that the most important thing that the early church prayed for was for each other.

Thanks for reading. God forgive me for not praying more, in groups, and by myself.

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