Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from upon high. (Luke 24:49)
During Jesus’ last months of training His disciples He spent time explaining their coming critical relationship with the Holy Spirit. In John, chapters 14-16, He clearly described the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you, Jesus said (John 16:7). However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth . . . and He will tell you things to come (John 16:13).
Jesus repeatedly emphasized the urgency of His followers to proclaim the Gospel to a lost world – in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).
And yet Jesus in great authority ordered the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. His apostles understood His meaning of the word tarry – wait before the Lord, pray earnestly, and tarry for the power! For you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses . . . (Acts 1:8).
Jesus made prayer the condition for His and the Father’s fulfillment of the Promise of Pentecostal power. After His ascension to the Father, they were to go back into the city of Jerusalem and start a prayer meeting.
The same condition holds for the Church of Jesus Christ today. God does not pour out His Holy Spirit on a prayerless believer; He does not pour out His Spirit on a prayerless congregation. John Wesley made the important discovery during His ministry that “God does nothing except through prayer.”
The disciples obeyed! At least some of them did: Luke the historian reports that altogether the number of names (in the Upper Room) was about a hundred and twenty (Acts 1:15). If several Bible authorities are correct in believing that the apostle Peter’s reference to the Risen Christ being seen by over five hundred brethren at once (I Corinthians 15:6) took place on the morning of His ascension, then we’ll have to wonder what happened to the 380 who did not join the Pentecostal prayer meeting.
We don’t know why only 120 obeyed Christ’s command, while 380 chose to ignore the divine order. But I believe that even then the prince of darkness knew he had no time to lose in distracting believers from the one weapon God had given His redeemed children for living the Christian life and for spreading the Gospel–a weapon he had no defense against, except to prevent it!
It is the same today. Many of us believe that the Holy Spirit’s most urgent call in these early decades of the 21st century is the call to Spirit-inspired intercessory prayer. Luke reports that the 120 prayed for ten days. And when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
The 120 believers obeyed Christ’s call to prayer and received Pentecostal power because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were believers before Pentecost, but they were not Spirit-filled. Now they had the power that Jesus had promised.
¨ Power to witness. The Church of Jesus Christ had not been stillborn; the 120 heard rushing mighty winds – it was the Holy Spirit breathing upon them. They saw the fire and were cleansed by the fire of the Spirit. And they were given tongues (languages) to speak to the crowds down on street level.
The apostle Peter, anointed now by the Holy Spirit, spoke with a knowledge of Christ’s redemptive mission that convicted hearers of sin. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38). Luke reports, Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2:41).
¨ Power to pray. And they (the 3,120 members) continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42). We can see in the early chapters of Luke that Christ is building His Church. On the Day of Pentecost 120 were the first members of Christ’s praying Church. But He will build it only as we follow the pattern He has laid out.
¨ Power to follow the pattern of prayer. Jesus said, . . . I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). My late dear friend and prayer partner, Armin Gesswein, used to remind us that “Jesus gave us a pattern by which He would build His Church through us.” Armin would then go on to say that Moses was given a pattern for building the tabernacle and Solomon was given a pattern for building the temple. Then Armin would ask us with great emotion, “Dare we think our Lord would leave us without a pattern for His most prized building, His Church?”
When Jesus ascended to the Father, He did not take His plan with Him; He left it with us. The Pentecostal prayer meeting is our model. Remember, those 120 prayer warriors were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).
When God added thousands to the 120, the apostles were faithful to remember the pattern – they taught the new members what Jesus had taught them. And the thousands were taught to pray.
Why did the prayer meeting in the early Church have such a priority? Because the leaders remembered the emphasis Jesus had placed on prayer in His own earthly ministry, and they were convicted by the Holy Spirit to practice and teach the same to the new converts. Prayer dominates the book of Acts, as it should.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, I beg us – let’s get back to the pattern! Can we not discern that the Spirit’s most urgent call at this late hour is a call to revival praying? Do we have any hope if we ignore God’s command to pray for the outpouring of His Spirit on His people? Will a rending of the Heavens on the Church not attract and convict the lost to repent and give their hearts to Christ?
It worked in the beginning. And I want to close with this statement of faith: Across the ages God has wrought mighty things through our prayers, but I know in my heart that He has never done anything that He can’t do again – if we believe and obey! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
May the Church of Jesus Christ in these desperate times turn to Christ’s model for building His Church–Pentecostal praying!
Jim’s New Book, OUR HOLY GUEST
“Are you hungry for a fresh visitation of the Holy Spirit? It will change your heart from resentment to rejoicing, from doubt to delight, from being downcast to dancing.”
“No matter what or who the devil has used to maneuver you into your state of undoneness, the Holy Spirit is calling you back to His fire. It is not a wild fire! It is not a fanatical fire! It is not a freakish fire! It is a holy fire—redeeming, refining, radiating, and renewing.”
“A fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit will restore passion for prayer, power for witnessing, and purity in your inner being.”
After reading Our Holy Guest, be prepared to come away with inspiration, motivation, and power to lead a meaningful spiritual life.
Jim Tharp’s new book “Our Holy Guest” (162 pages) is now available to purchase on this site as well as Amazon.