Living Acts 2:42 as a local church
"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts 2:42)
Acts 2:42 provides a good pattern for the Christian life that goes further than only daily Bible reading.
In Acts 2:42, we see that the early church spent a lot of time together. Their lives were in danger, and so being together out of harm's way was the best thing for them to do.
Togetherness is still an important aspect of church today, and when we are gathered, the four devotions spelled out in Acts 2:42 ought to be the center of our activity. These four devotions are to be ongoing (note the "-ing" in v. 42). It is through these "devotions" we hear from God, and draw near to Him, and draw near to each other.
1. Devoting ourselves to the apostle's teaching: This is referring to the Bible. Christian men and women are marked by an ongoing devotion to God's word. We hear the voice of God through our Bibles, and we obey Him.
2. Devoting ourselves to fellowship: Fellowship happens when the family of God is gathered. In fellowship, we get to know one another. In fellowship, we are able to weep with those who are weeping, thus bearing one another's burdens. In fellowship, we praise the Lord together for the blessings we share. Courage and love come to us in our fellowship with one another. To be the church, we must be together often.
3. Devoting ourselves to communion: The specific wording in the verse is "breaking of bread," but we understand that this is one way of saying communion or Lord's Supper. The saints of Prineville Community Church have a pattern of taking communion on the first Sunday of every month. This is a good devotion. But we all need to approach communion with fresh hearts each time; communion ought to bring forth personal praise and celebration for the victory we have in Christ's cross work.
4. Devoting ourselves to prayer: It amazes me how easily prayer can be overlooked in our private lives and in our life together. Let prayer saturate you! Approach God as your Father since He truly is. Pray appropriate prayers that are shaped by God Himself with the instructions and model that He gave us in Matthew 6:1-15. Let your prayers be influenced by other prayers in the Scriptures (for example, Acts 4:24-31; Ephesians 1:18-23, 6:18-20).
Furthermore, remember that your prayers don't have to be long in order to be effective or right. Short prayers that are to the point are excellent. Also, many of us have certain things in place to encourage us to pray. For instance, we have prayer chains and time devoted to prayer in our church gatherings. Let's approach our prayer times with hearts that are truly open to God on behalf of others. We don't want to only ask God to remove difficulties, but that God would enlighten the eyes of the heart that they would "know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19a)
Chris Cookston is the pastor at Prineville Community Church. He can be reached at 541-447-6315.