Acts 6:4

Texas sunset.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The decision of the apostles was given in the previous verse concerning the daily distribution. Seven men, of good reputation and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, were to be appointed over that business. The apostles now continue, saying, “but we will give ourselves continually.”

The word translated as “continually” is one that signifies not only continuance, but steadfast continuance. It is defined as “consistently showing strength which prevails (in spite of difficulties)” (HELPS Word Studies). One can think of a ship heading in a fixed direction and remaining on course, even when the winds attempt to redirect the chosen course.

The apostles had been compelled to “leave the word of God and serve tables,” as noted in verse 6:2. This could not be. Their calling was to minister in the word, and it must continue without such interference, as they next note, saying, “to prayer.”

Along with the word, the apostles reveal that active participation in prayer was to be a part of what their duties entailed. Nothing is said concerning the type of prayer, but it is probably multileveled. First, it would include their private prayers – whether alone or with the other apostles. Secondly, it might include public prayers, including any who were at whatever gathering they were presiding over. And third, it would probably include prayer for the occasions where healings were beyond what was normally encountered by these men.

This was noted by Jesus in Mark 9. When the apostles were awaiting the return of Jesus, Peter, and John, they could not heal a boy of his affliction. When the three had returned, Jesus healed the boy. When asked about the matter, Jesus’ response was, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Along with prayer, the apostles also note, “and to the ministry of the word.”

Here, the Greek word translated as “ministry” is the same word used in verse 6:1when referring to the “daily distribution.” It is a word that signifies “waiting at a table.” The apostles have not placed themselves apart or above the others. Rather, they are simply performing their particular service at the table of the Lord as the church goes forward in accomplishing its mission.

Life application: Two key points are to be seen in this short verse, prayer and service. First, it is a common question to ask, “If God already knows the outcome of what is going to happen, then why should we pray?” The answer is that God already knows whether you will pray or not. He has factored in His response to our prayers. A prayer that is not made has not been factored into His response.

A simple example may be mom making cookies. She has a son who she knows will ask for a cookie when he comes home from school, and so she sets one aside for him. After he asks, he gets his tasty treat. But if the same mom and the same boy had an argument in the morning, and she knows his attitude in advance – that he will sulk for at least five days, not saying a word to her – she won’t bother setting aside a cookie.

Obviously, mom doesn’t know everything as God does, but the example is clear enough to understand that Angry Andy gets no cookie, and it is because of his refusal to simply ask. A prayer not spoken to God will receive no attention because it was never uttered. Having said that, we may pray and pray and never get what we want. This is because what is prayed for is not within the will of God. Or it may be that God wants to mold us by allowing us to continue praying for a long time before responding. We cannot know, and so the Bible admonishes us to pray.

The second point, that of service, is one that – unfortunately – gets twisted out of its original intent by some in the church. It is true that Paul gives directions for the appointment of elders and deacons. They are held to a high standard, both in what is expected of them and in the honor that is to be given to them. And yet, Paul set forth his example of ministry by working with his own hands to meet his needs. And more, Christ gave us the premier example of servanthood in leadership.

Today, many pastors are so out of touch with their congregations, in the sense of Christlike servanthood, that there is almost no connection to the people at all. Obviously, when a pastor leads a church of thousands or tens of thousands of people, it is impossible to minister to all of them. But there is often an unhealthy adoration of these men. And more, there is an almost cult-like status granted to them. Congregations don’t seem to mind that they have houses bigger than Hollywood movie stars, private jet planes, and so on.

There needs to be a walk in the lives of those who lead their churches that brings them into a close and uniting relationship with their congregations, at least in how they live their lives. Prayer and service. Let us remember the lessons we can glean from this short verse in the book of Acts.

Glorious Heavenly Father, help us to be people of prayer, knowing that You do hear, You do act in accord with Your will, and You will respond when the prayer aligns with Your will. May we see Your glorious hand at work as we present our prayers to You as they come from hearts that truly care about the words we speak. Amen.