Will Graham said that his grandfather, the Rev. Billy Graham, once gave him life-changing advice: “Pray. Pray. Pray,” said Graham, then added, “Study. Study. Study.” Will said, “Whatever walk of life you are in, I hope that you can hear my grandfather’s instruction and take it to heart as well. We can get so busy that our efforts begin to crowd out our relationship with God.” No matter how we choose to serve God, it is best to start first with prayer.
The growth of the church created unique issues for the first-century church leadership as we can see in Acts 6. The Hellenistic Jews were Messianic Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture. Due to the language barrier, their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food (v. 1). The twelve apostles were stuck having to choose between administrative needs and the ministry of the Word of God which most likely meant sharing the good news of Jesus’ resurrection (v. 2). They decided to delegate the important task of daily food distribution to those who were more gifted. The apostles felt they would better serve the church body by focusing on ministry of the Word.
When first faced with what to do, the apostles mention their responsibility was to “the ministry of the word” (v. 2). In verse four, they give a full job description of their responsibilities: “prayer and the ministry of the word.” The option of whether or not to pray was never in doubt. Prayer was a vital ingredient for the early church just as it is for the body of Christ today. Whenever we consider what needs to be delegated or cut out of our busy lives, prayer should never be on the table. E. M. Bounds writes, “None but praying leaders can have praying followers.”
>> Consider what daily things crowd out your prayer time. What can you rearrange or delegate in your life, to make your prayer time a priority?
Thank you, God, that every day you are conforming us to the image of your Son (Rom. 8:29). Throughout the gospels, Jesus devoted Himself to constant prayer. Teach us to pray with Christ’s fervent heart.