After the disciples had witnessed the amazing impact of Jesus’ prayer life, they were naturally curious about how they could have the same power in their own lives. They accordingly approached Jesus one day as He was concluding a time of prayer: “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of Hid disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.'” (Luke 11:1)
There are many other questions that the disciples could have asked: “Lord, teach us to share the Gospel,” or “Teach us to heal the sick,” or “Teach us to cast out demons.'” But there is no record of these questions ever being asked. Why not? Maybe because the disciples could see that Jesus’ prayer life was the secret to everything else He did.
If someone followed you around for a week or two, would they end up saying, “Wow, your prayer life is so awesome! Please teach me how to pray like that!” Unfortunately, many of us do not have a prayer life that would provoke anyone to envy. We want to do the supernatural works of Jesus, but we haven’t yet “prayed the price.”
As E.M. Bounds once pointed out, “The little estimate we put on prayer is evident from the little time we give to it.” Can’t we see from the life of Jesus how important prayer is to a fruitful Christian life?
Those in the early Church seemed to have a clear understanding of the necessity of prayer in fulfilling their mission to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel. What was the first thing they did after Jesus commissioned them and ascended into heaven? They gave themselves to fervent prayer: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” (Acts 1:14)
In response to their prayers, the Holy Spirit was dramatically poured out on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-5). After 3,000 were saved that day, we are told they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42). In Acts, chapter three, Peter and John were on their way to pray in the temple, and ended up healing a lame man. This resulted in an opportunity to preach to the amazed crowd that gathered because of the miracle.
Peter and John were arrested for their preaching after the lame man was healed- the Church prayed. When they were released the rallied the Church to pray all the more for opportunities to spread the Gospel. God answered their prayers in a rather spectacular way: “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31)
We can see how prayer was the foundation for apostolic evangelism in the Church. Their witnessing was the product of more than a new church program or thew zeal of a few. The CHurch didn’t grow because of polished preached and dazzling buildings. Rather, their secret (not a well kept one either) was their zealous prayer.