In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “It is in fact the most normal thing in the common Christian life to pray together.” A circle of people with their eyes closed and heads bowed might seem strange to a nonChristian, but it should be normal for believers.
Following Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, members of the early church prayed together. Jesus had gone away—at least physically. As they obeyed His command to remain in Jerusalem, the first followers of Christ found themselves drawn together for strength and comfort. When they gathered in one place for prayer, they could continue to experience the nearness of Christ’s presence (see Matt. 18:20) and could encourage one another with their shared petitions and praises.
They had much to pray about. Jesus had given them a task: “You will be my witnesses” (v. 8). He had also given them a promise: “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (v. 5). Their prayer meetings in the Upper Room were both an act of dependence on the God who uses frail people to accomplish His work in the world and an act of faith that He would keep His promise and send His Spirit.
Not only was praying together a normal part of the early church’s shared life, it was normal for all kinds of people in that church. Each one of the remaining eleven disciples was present, and “they all joined together” in prayer, including women as well as Jesus’ mother and brothers (v. 14). Intercession is an activity for everyone—no matter our age, gender, ability, or spiritual maturity. As we will see more fully later in this study, every person who belongs to Christ can contribute to the work of praying together. Let us pray.