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Devoted to Prayer

12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (Acts 1:12-14, NRSV)

After Jesus ascended into heaven the disciples and certain women went back to Jerusalem and went to the room upstairs where they were staying, was this the room where they ate the last supper with Jesus, and they devoted themselves there to prayer.

They had communication with God and each other and devoted their lives to this. Prayer is not an individual conversation but is conversation, it is open and honest about life. I wonder at what the prayer conversation was in this upper room, and how inspiring the spirit was moving in this group of people.

How can we have that fire and spark in our lives?

 

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The Crucifixion

27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 32As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”38Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way. 45From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.53After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”55Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. 57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. (Matthew 27:27-61, NRSV)

My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? Why did Jesus say this if he was God? How can God forsake God? Some say this is the point where God had to leave Jesus in order that he could die, or that Jesus wasn’t actually God all along, or that maybe this wasn’t Jesus on the cross. Besides the fact that it would be physiologically impossible for a man who was on the cross as long as Jesus was here to even mutter a sound, we are hung up on the words Jesus says. But here Jesus says the first line os Psalm 22. And it is my understanding that in Jesus day for a person to pray the entirety of a psalm all they had to do was say the first line. So maybe Jesus was praying Psalm 22, which is a psalm that starts out it seems with God forsaking the person, but in the end, it is that God has never left them at all and has vindicated them. So is Jesus asking why he was left, or saying hold on, I’ll be right back?

 

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Hear O Israel

4Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.8Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NRSV)

This is a very important passage of scripture for Jews. This is known as the Shema and is used as the central prayer for morning and evening prayer so this is prayed twice daily. It is also on a scroll that Jews will place in each doorway as to bless their homes. As it says in the passage, “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”

This is also a pivotal verse for Christians because it tells us God is one and we are to love God, which Jesus quotes as the greatest commandment.

We should share this faith and keep it close to us.

Here is a link to hear the Shema prayed in it’s original Hebrew.

 

 
 

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The Lord’s Prayer

7“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.10Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. 14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:7-21, NRSV)

Why do we pray these words every week?

Jesus said pray in this way, not pray these words. Jesus was helping understand how we can come to God for everything and in everything we do we should do it for our relationship with God and not so others see us and think we are pious or doing what we should.

We should store our treasures where nothing can take away from it and we will be replenished. We should not worry about how we will be blessed again but live in and through the blessing we have.

 

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Epilogue

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal. (1 John 5:14-17, NRSV)

Sin is any wrongdoing that separates us from God. There are sins that lead to death, mortal sins, and sins that do not lead to death. And if a sin is not mortal you can pray to God for help for those you see committing these sins. And that will give life to others.

So request that God give life to those you see that are separated from Him.

By praying for others you are also bringing life to yourself.

 

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The Believers Pray for Boldness

After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:23-31, NRSV)

Here the believers pray with Peter and John when they leave the high council. Because the will of God will be done in spite of people getting in the way.

Many people will try and thwart the message of the gospel. But God will not let that happen. Either through us following Him or Him using us to spread the message, the will of God will be done.

If we do not share it, God will make the rocks cry out!

So pray together with others that God may give you the boldness you need to share His love with all the world!

 

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God Reveals Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Then Daniel went to his home and informed his companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions with the rest of the wise men of Babylon might not perish. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel said: “Blessed be the name of God from age to age, for wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him. To you, O God of my ancestors, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and power, and have now revealed to me what we asked of you, for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.” (Daniel 2:17-23, NRSV)

Daniel went and prayed to God along with his friends, and God listened to their prayers and revealed to Daniel the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation of it

God is to be praised for His steadfast love and care for us. Daniel was set to be killed, but God gave him the answers he needed to appease the king.

God will always provide us with what we need!

 

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