Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PRAYING AFTER JESUS LEFT AND BEFORE THE SPIRIT CAME”

Acts 1.13-14

One of the decided benefits of growing up in a church such as ours is always knowing why you are here, what your purpose for existence happens to be. Growing up in a secular home, I remember fitting right in with the other university students, who devoted considerable time to such important questions as who am I and why I am here. The church kid, on the other hand, already knows the answers to such questions.

The Westminster Larger Catechism begins:

Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?

A.  Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.[1]

A Catechism With Proofs by Charles H. Spurgeon, longtime nineteenth century pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England, and perhaps the most well known Baptist of all time, begins in similar fashion:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

A.  Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.[2]

Both the Westminster divines in the 17th century and the foremost Baptist of the 19th century were in agreement concerning the Holy Bible’s central theme for the existence of mankind and to addressing the question of who am I and why am I here. Revelation 4.11 is one of the many scripture references that leads to such a conclusion: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Thus, the Bible declares, and godly men have always recognized, that we exist to glorify God. However, since many people are unclear about this matter of glorifying God, allow me to clarify. “The Hebrew word for glory is a word meaning weight, substance, and at the same time, brilliance or radiant beauty. To glorify someone is to recognize their intrinsic worth and beauty, and to speak of that feature in a public way. To glorify God is to praise or to speak of Him openly and truthfully. Glory is at the heart of true worship throughout the Scriptures.”[3]

Grow up in this church, learn and rehearse, and take to heart the catechisms and Bible lessons you are taught as a child, and you will be different from everyone else you sit with in the classroom in the university. While they are wondering who they are, you already know. While they are asking about their purpose for existing, the meaning of life, you already know. You were created by Almighty God, Who also created the heavens and the earth, and all that herein is. He is the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save you from your sins, based upon His sacrificial atonement on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection from the dead three days later. You understand that you do not exist primarily to enjoy yourself, to make lots of money, to fulfill your lusts, or to worry yourself sick about acquisition and status. To be sure, you do the very best you can in all that you do. However, the Lord Jesus Christ before His crucifixion gave the prime directive for you. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, He directed you to behave yourself quite differently from the lost of this world when He said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”[4] How different are our young men and women from the heathens, who scheme and pursue, who worry and fret, who wonder who they are and how they got here, and do not serve God’s but their own interests.

What internal inconsistencies must therefore exist in the minds and hearts of many raised up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They have truthfully been told who they are and why they are here, yet their conduct is inconsistent with such truths. They want to think of themselves as logical and intellectually honest, yet while not openly repudiating the truth by what they say, they live their lives exactly as do those who do repudiate the truth, or at least who question the truth.

This morning I want to turn your attention to a group of people who had no issue with why they existed or what their ultimate reason for existing happened to be. Neither were they fretting about accumulating property or building an income stream. They saw it as the greatest possible privilege to glorify God and sought only the means to accomplish the task that was set before them by their Savior. Who were these people? We find them in Acts chapter one, in Luke’s account of what happened just after the risen Savior’s final ascent to heaven. When you find that portion of scripture, please stand and read along with me silently while I read aloud, beginning with Acts 1.1:

1      The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

2      Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

3      To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

4      And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

5      For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

6      When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

7      And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

8      But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

9      And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10     And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11     Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

12     Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.

13     And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

14     These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

In Acts 1.1-3, Luke provides the barest of backgrounds before launching into his history of the ascension of Jesus Christ, the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and the launching of the church in its Great Commission and the expansion of the faith, primarily through the ministries of Peter and Paul. In verses 4 and 5, Jesus commanded His disciples to stay put in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Ghost. In verses 6-8, Jesus’ disciples questioned Him again about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. The risen Lord deflected their question and reiterated His Great Commission to them for at least the fourth time in the Biblical record.[5] While they watched, their Lord Jesus Christ who they had left all to follow for three and one half years, who they had served and prayed with, who they had brought people with all manner of afflictions to, who they had seen work miracles and wonders of all sorts (from walking on the water to raising the dead), who they had seen die on the cross at a distance, and “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs,” was leaving them. To be sure, He was coming again. As they watched Him ascend and disappear into a cloud, they had been told, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” They then left the top of the Mount of Olives where they had been standing, actually just above the Garden of Gethsemane, and walked the short distance back into the city of Jerusalem.

Acts 1.13-14 is my text for this morning, where Luke tells us who joined in the first prayer meeting following the Lord Jesus Christ’s exaltation to His Father’s right hand:

13     And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

14     These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Three observations about this first prayer meeting, a prayer meeting that we should pattern our own prayer meetings after:

First, OBSERVE THAT THEY PRAYED ACCORDING TO PROMISE

What a blessed time the 120 must have had as they continued in one accord. Their anticipation must have been electric, since these who had failed under pressure and fled when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, with Peter even denying Him three times before He was crucified for fear, no longer had any doubts. Imagine going to your heavenly Father in prayer with others who have seen what they saw, who had experienced what they had endured, and who now had convictions that went far beyond anything like mere beliefs. They had seen the miracles, heard the teaching, and took note of the hope. Then they saw Him die and thought all was over. However, He rose from the dead. He actually conquered death! They were the disciples of One who was Lord over all, to whom all power in heaven and in earth had been given, and they joined with one accord in prayer.

This is not new. Most who claim to be Christians are familiar with these facts. However, a surprising number who claim Christ are completely off the mark about the purpose of the disciples’ prayers at this point. These men and women are not praying for the Holy Spirit. They are not asking for the Spirit to fall on them. They are not pleading with the Father to baptize them in the Spirit. In John 14.26, we read that the evening before His crucifixion, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” As well, just prior to His ascension, Jesus told them, “wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.”

Understand, therefore, that those believers gathered together in anticipation of the Spirit’s coming, though they were not pleading with God to send the Spirit. The Spirit of God was promised. He was certainly coming, so they did not need to plead for Him. There is no need to plead for what God has promised. You can thank Him for what He has promised. You can praise Him for what He has promised. However, there is no need whatsoever to ask Him for what He has already decided to do.

Next, OBSERVE THAT THEY PRAYED AS A MEANS OF PREPARATION

For more than three years these people had been instructed, trained, catechized, indoctrinated, and otherwise prepared for the time when the Savior would no longer be with them. During that time, they became thoroughly familiar with the mission they had been given, the implications of their mission, and the strategy and tactics that were to be employed in the discharge of their mission. When came the time that they faced specific situations they needed help in dealing with, or when came the time they needed truth they could not for some reason remember, the Spirit promised to them would both teach them and bring to their remembrance the things their Master had taught them.

Then, what were they praying for? They were praying for wisdom. James 1.5 declares, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” They had a charge entrusted to them by their Master that they needed wisdom to faithfully fulfill. Therefore, they asked for the wisdom they needed to make important decisions that would affect others for centuries to come. They were praying for fruit. By fruit, I mean both the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of souls brought to Christ. Jesus emphasized bearing fruit in John 15, the night before His crucifixion; therefore, there is no doubt that bringing the lost to Christ was very high on their list of priorities. However, to enjoy success they had to be open to the Spirit’s work in their lives, meaning they had to bear the fruit of the Spirit.[6] In short, they were praying for themselves. Do not think it is selfish to pray for yourself. It is absolutely necessary. Before you are useful to God for the benefit of others, your own spiritual house must be in order. There can be no doubt that those gathered for prayer in Jerusalem knew that. As much as they had heard their Master pray for them, they certainly knew they needed to pray for themselves, for the character and faithfulness issues of the Christian life so important when trying to reach the lost with the gospel. Make no mistake about it, the Great Commission weighed heavily on their minds and hearts. They dare not attempt to preach the gospel to every creature before the Spirit comes, but they dare not attempt to serve God, even when the Spirit comes, apart from a vigorous and energetic prayer life that recognizes the need for God’s abundant grace, and the wisdom to be faithful and fruitful.

From Acts 1.3, we know our Lord’s exaltation took place forty days after His resurrection. Therefore, with Pentecost meaning fifty, and taking place fifty days after His resurrection, this protracted prayer meeting continued for ten days. Imagine what it must have been like, ten days to prepare through prayer for the rest of your natural life. They wanted to make sure the time God gave them, to pray and then to serve, was time well spent.

Finally, OBSERVE THAT THEY PRAYED BY BOTH ASKING AND PLEADING

Five brief points to make here:

First, take note that verse 14 informs us “These all continued.” A. T. Robertson notes that our English word translates proskarterew, that refers to being strong, steadfast, like the English phrase “carry on.”[7] I am not sure they knew they would end up praying for ten days, but they did know that the Spirit would come upon them when it was time to stop. So, they just hunkered down and prayed. There needs to be some continuance in our prayers from time to time. Would you not agree?

Next, take note that “These all continued with one accord.” “One accord” is one of our favorite Greek words, omoqumadon, and refers to a group of people acting with one mind. Who would consider undertaking a great enterprise without all the players being on the same page of the playbook, without all the participants being fully in? No half measures. No one lukewarm. None of this silly nonsense of sticking your toe in the water to see if it is too cold. Dive in! When they prayed with one accord, they were mentally and emotionally diving in together. They were in this together.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer.” There is nothing special about the Greek word translated prayer. It simply means to petition. They spent ten days telling God what they wanted, asking of Him. They wanted wisdom. They wanted fruit that remained. They wanted personal consecration. They each had numerous personal defects and flaws that they no doubt asked God for grace in dealing with.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” My friends, there is praying and then there is praying. There is asking God and then there is pleading with your Father. Therefore, when you are praying and when you are supplicating you are doing the same thing. However, with supplication there is greater intensity, stronger emphasis, and a more passionate urging of God to grant your request. Perhaps you pray for the salvation of your neighbor, but your supplications are for your son’s conversion.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Look who we have at this prayer meeting. All the disciples, both the men and women, participated. However, Mary the mother of Jesus was also there, as were His brethren, identified to us in Matthew 13.55 as James (who wrote the book of James), Joses, Simon, and Judas (who wrote the small book of Jude). Now that Jesus is raised from the dead (and most undoubtedly I might add), His half brothers who had always doubted Him have now believed in Him, have seen Him exalted to the Father’s right hand on high, and are joined with the other Christians in Jerusalem in praying to the Father in His name.

How important is it to pray? It is very important to pray. Throughout the gospel record, we see the Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer life. He prayed in the daytime and He prayed in the nighttime. He prayed in rural regions and He prayed in the cities. He prayed longer prayers and He prayed prayers of just a few words. The point that I seek to make is that the Second Person of the Triune Godhead saw and felt the necessity to pray much to His heavenly Father. Therefore, who are we to deny our own profound need of prayer? Add on top of that our understanding that John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray and our Lord’s disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, which He did.[8] Are you beginning to see the importance of prayer? Do we not learn in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus prayed His high priestly intercessory prayer that three of His disciples’ shortcomings (in particular, Peter’s three denials of our Lord) were likely the result of them dozing instead of praying at that crucial time?[9] In Acts 1.13-14, on the other side of Christ’s passion, after the infallible proofs of His resurrection for forty days, following His exaltation, and now during the ten day interim before Pentecost, they seem to have learned their lesson well. They prayed long and they prayed hard, because they knew that any and all spiritual success is vitally linked to prayer.

My friend, if you are lost, it is unlikely that you will come to Christ if you do not pray, pleading with God for a heart that is willing to turn to Christ. My Christian friend, if you do not pray, it is unlikely that your unsaved spouse, your unsaved child, your unsaved brother or sister or mom or dad, or your unsaved neighbor will ever become a Christian. To be sure, God has made many promises to us. However, the saints in Jerusalem also knew they had God’s promises that were bound to be kept, most importantly the promise of the Holy Spirit of God, Christ’s ascension gift to them. Yet they still prayed, for ten days they prayed, because they knew prayer was vital.

Reflecting the attitude that we see acted out in our text, James (one of the prayer warriors) would later write, “ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”[10] Prayer moves God. Prayer changes those who pray. Prayer brings to bear all the resources at God’s disposal to change the heart of a sinner. And without prayer, God cannot be effectively served or glorified. This is why Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing.”

With the exalted Savior as your intercessor and advocate at the Father’s right hand, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”[11] Pray in private, pray in public with us on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, and pray before each meal. It is not only your privilege as a Christian to pray; it should be your expectation as a Christian for God to provide for you in response to your prayers.



[2] Charles H. Spurgeon, A Catechism With Proofs, (Pensacola, FL: Chapel Library reprint), page 1.

[3] Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, editors, Perspectives On The World Christian Movement: A Reader, Third Edition, (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1999), “The Story Of His Glory,” pages 34-35.

[4] Matthew 6.33

[5] Matthew 28.18-20; Mark 16.15-18; Luke 24.46-47

[6] Galatians 5.22-23

[7] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol III, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1930), page 14.

[8] Luke 11.1

[9] Matthew 26.38-40

[10] James 4.2-3

[11] Hebrews 4.16



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org