Acts 1:12-14: Known to God.(please click for todays passage) God knows the names of those who pray! To my mind, this looks like a kind of roll of honour (13, 14). It is true that not everyone attending this (rather lengthy) ‘prayer meeting’ is named. There were, after all, ‘’about a hundred and twenty’’ of them (15) That would make it a very long list. What is obvious is that God knew the names of all the people in that upstairs room, even if only a few are named. Because prayer meetings in general are not all that popular (sad to say it) those who do faithfully show up can feel like an insignificant minority. But the other morning, this truth leaped out of the page of the book of ‘Acts’, and pounced on me like a lively Labrador pup. I can feel its paws on me even now: God knows the names of those who pray.
Those who pray are used by God to change history. Pentecost was a history changing moment. Between the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit, there stands (or should that be ‘kneels’?) a united, committed, praying people. Walter Wink wrote that ‘’History belongs to the intercessors.’’ I listened to a talk given by an American pastor, Ben Patterson, in which he said there is not enough teaching in the church that prayer gets things done. We’re a very busy, activist church in the West. We want to be getting on with stuff; making things happen. Well, prayer is where the action is. Someone said, ‘’We can do more than pray after we have prayed. But we cannot do more than pray until we have prayed.’’ I’m not against activity, but I feel averse towards prayerless activity; towards work that has been substituted for prayer. Prayer is work. The kind of prayer reflected in (14) is work of the hardest kind. People of faith pray the promises of God into experience. Jesus had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit (4, 5 and 8). Between the promise of the Spirit and the reception of the Spirit there lay the believing prayers of the Christian community. The promises of God do not make prayer obsolete. Rather, they act as fuel for prayer’s fire. I had another thought. I have a list of names written down. Here are people/needs I will bring to God most days of the week. Sometimes it looks to me like just a list of names. But passages like today’s remind me that lists are of value to God. There are plenty of lists in the Bible.
Just one final thing…for today…Jesus knows the pain of having unbelieving family (see John 7:4,5). But things changed (Look again at 14b). His unbelieving brothers came to faith. So let this encourage you; don’t give up hope; and keep on praying.