Gospel Communities | Devoted Rightly 1.2 | "The Breaking of Bread & The Prayers"
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” – Acts 2:42
Here if our third of four post this week regarding GC reorientation.
Next, we see that the disciples were devoted to fellowship. We will skip this for now and return to it at the end, as it leads nicely into the second principle, calling us to be together frequently. Instead, we will skip ahead to the devotion to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Breaking bread has two connotations in this passage. One refers to the sharing of a corporate meal, which we will address under the next principle, but while we are under the principle of devotion we will focus on its second connotation, which is the prioritization of participating in the sacrament of communion among the saints.
This point on communion requires less explanation than other points; suffice to say, we desire to ensure that all followers of Christ are given the opportunity to participate in the eucharist, the remembrance of Christ’s broken body and shed blood on our behalf. Nearly every Sunday we provide communion to be taken in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, but of course some members of our communities miss Sundays for various reasons. Our communities should be places where individuals, if they so choose, can participate in communion on a weekly basis. The principle is this: communion is a sacrament ordained by Christ himself, and thus it should be a regular rhythm within our communities, in one way or another. We are often forgetful of what Christ has done for us, and while there are a number of ways to be reminded, Christ himself gave us the holy practice of communion, an exercise we must heed and adhere to together.
The disciples were also devoted to prayer, and so we should likewise be so devoted. Remember here the original phrasing of devotion: the disciples were giving constant attention and continuing steadfastly in prayer, and we must do the same. The bible tells us to pray at all times (Ephesians 6:18) and to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Old Testament and the Psalms speak frequently about calling upon the Lord for strength, guidance, and comfort. Jesus spoke frequently about seeking God through prayer. He taught us how to pray and modeled prayer himself. Friends, we must see prayer not as an agenda item to be checked at the end or our gospel community meetings or as a transitional tool at our Sunday morning gatherings. We must not be content with accepting prayer as some sort of boring burden or a waste of time. We must not be content with knowing prayer is important but not finding time on our knees for ourselves. Communion with God through prayer, asking of him and also listening for him, is absolutely essential to our health and vitality as followers of God. If we truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that while he was here on earth he too prioritized prayer, then how prideful and presumptuous are we to assume that we have more holy strength than our Lord?
Our gospel communities must be groups that are devoted to communing with God. In our current age of instant gratification and constant distraction, we must make extra efforts to fight for time to pray. To aid in this, in principle we are to have scheduled gatherings devoted entirely to seeking God as a group. The details of this are still being considered, however whatever is decided upon will ensure that we, as gospel communities, are praying together. Corporate prayer is an excellent opportunity to learn how to pray and to understand the importance of prayer. Jesus’ followers asked how to pray, and we too should have a student’s heart in this area. If we are shy about praying out loud, we are called into this by others and are encouraged when older, more experienced saints stumble over their own words as well. If we don’t know what to pray for, we gather inspiration from the Word and from hearing passion in the voices of others.
Consider a loving father communing with a child – what is more important to him: a perfectly worded and eloquent speech from his beloved son or daughter, or the simple fact that the child is looking to him, loving him, and desiring to be with him? Whatever imperfect image is in your mind, know that God’s love is greater than that, as is his desire to spend uninterrupted, quality, devoted time with his sons and daughters. We must conquer our fear of man, swallow our pride, raise our voices, and pray imperfectly together to the glory of God. Our hope is that corporate prayer together will instruct and inspire in such a way that prayer becomes a regular rhythm of life for each member of our church.