“But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” Acts 6:4
Beloved, let us ponder on this precious portion of Scripture awhile. Indeed, let us not just examine and ponder on it now, but let us hold it in our hearts and apply it to our daily living. For in this precious portion of God’s holy Word, we see God pointing our hearts to the right thing on which our focus must dwell. The first thing we see is “But we will”. Here is a strong determination made by choice. It says “But”, so irrespective of the situation or opposition or circumstances around, the speaker is determined to do a particular thing. Then we see “we will”, this is not a self-centred will as we see in the lives of many men on the earth. No, this is rather a response of the heart to God’s call to man. It is more of an answer; a right response to a call. In Scripture, we see God calling us to certain things and the only right response we can give is “we will”. So, this may be an amplification of the first phrase in our verse, “Lord, You have called us to do this. There are many oppositions and situations that tend to fight against our obedience to Your commands. But we are strongly determined in our hearts to answer Your call and obey You no matter what is going on and no matter what will happen.”
Then we see more in this verse, “But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly”. Here, we see three strong words that add more flesh to the previous note of determination we examined, “continue, devote, steadfastly”. To continue means to repeat; to devote means to be committed and steadfastly may suggest persistence. So we see from this that the speaker is given himself wholly without any reservation to a particular cause. He is totally committing Himself – spirit, soul and body, to doing a particular thing, not just once, but repeatedly and persistently.
Now we come to a very crucial question: what is it that so consumes and demands the speaker’s affection and attention that he would let go of every other to pursue? What is it to which the speaker is unreservedly committing his whole being to continually do? “But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” Here we see the things that so consumes the speaker’s affection and attention. Here we see that to which the speaker has unreservedly given himself and determinedly set his heart to pursue. The first is “prayer”. Prayer basically means communion with God. In prayer, we take our eyes off every situation, person or thing and focus them on the great personality, love and power of God. In prayer, we are beholding the glory and beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ as we call upon Him to handle and glorify His name in everything that concerns us.
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4). As it was with the Apostles, so also was it with the psalmist. But from the psalmist, we make a deeper observation concerning this matter of prayer. We see that whenever we set our eyes on the Lord Jesus in prayer our eyes are lost in a marvellous beauty – the glory of God! There’s a sweetness that comes from taking our eyes off the circumstances around us and setting them on Jesus! There’s an amazing peace and joy that we can never know until we pray. Also, when we see the account in Matthew 14:25-33, we see that as long as Peter kept his eyes on the Lord Jesus, he was able by God’s mighty power, to walk on water. “But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink.”Save me, Lord!” he shouted.” (vs. 30). So it is very clear to us that the only way we can walk on and overcome any and every situation is to maintain a personal prayer life where we cast all our burdens upon the Lord knowing that He cares for us.
The second thing on which both the Apostles and the psalmist set their whole being on doing is “…the ministry of the Word” “…and to inquire in his temple.” It is like two sides of a coin; the two must roll together if any of them is to roll at all. Here we see the patriarchs declaring that they will give themselves over to the Word of God; to diligently study the Word and deliberately meditate on it. As earlier on stated, we see them saying that they will wholeheartedly, deliberately, continuously and persistently devote themselves to the Word of God. They make a firm choice to consciously give themselves to the Word of God. They do not say they will wait until the preacher comes along with a sermon, neither do they say they will drink of the Word once a week. But they speak as one who really has no other business but to search and know the Scriptures. They decide to yield their ears to hear the Word of God always.
One great fruit of this second commitment is FAITH. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). As we listen to the Word of God, we see the exceeding great and precious promises made by the One who cannot lie. Our hearts are stirred to believe because we read about those who were delivered from similar or worse situations. We know better that God is able to handle every person, situation or circumstance we come across by hearing the Word of His power in our hearts. But hearing the Word does not only produce faith; it also produces peace and inexpressible joy. These two precious Scriptures say it all: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3). “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11).
Having seen this, there is a clear call to my life. It is firm, definite, full of hope and love. This is the call: “And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].” (Luke 9:23). This is a definite command; I MUST make a definite choice. The Lord knows what is best for me and He so eagerly desires to give me His best. But He will not go against my will. He is Jehovah (the Sovereign Lord) but for the present, His Word says: “choose you this day who ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). How strict is our Lord concerning this. He will not have me give my heart to other things; He deserves and demands that I love and seek Him with the totality of my being. Anything short of loving Him in my inner-most being and having no other besides Him constitutes unfaithfulness and He will not bear it.
Beloved, it is clear as to what we are called into; “prayer and the ministry of the Word.” This is the foundation of all that will spring out of our walk with God. Any fruit we seem to bear outside of this true foundation of prayer and God’s Word is a bad, diseased and poisonous fruit. We cannot hope to walk with God on any other foundation but these. Indeed, we cannot claim to walk with God if we neglect this precious foundation. My prayer life and your prayer life are far more important than anything on earth. The Word of God is far more essential to me and you than food. “…I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12). I do not pray for you alone, but I pray for myself first; that just as these saints who forsook all and followed Jesus, I too will forsake all and pursue my Lord, being confident of this “…that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”. (Rom 8:18).