Connecting Heaven to Earth

This summer we will explore the mission of God in the story of Acts. The first few posts will adapt some of our new Acts curriculum to show how Acts 1 helps connect the mission of God to Luke's purpose in Acts. Following our work in Acts 1, we will take a deep dive into Peter's Pentecost sermon, paying special attention to how he connects the Bible to his world, calling others to pursue all of life as ministry.

Acts 1:12–14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Prayer Connects Heaven to Earth

The way the disciples wait for Jesus shows us one major component of how we are to accomplish our mission.

Although we need to be reminded that our work is here on earth, we should also note that the disciples do not lose all heavenly focus. Their focus is on connecting heaven to earth, not leaving one or the other behind. The Scriptures are full of reminders that our hope is directed heavenward. So, how do we maintain a heavenly focus while also being of earthly good for God’s mission? The apostles’ immediate reaction to waiting for Jesus is prayer.

Prayer is the channel that connects heaven to earth.

Prayer takes us to the heavenly throne room of God where we can call upon him for anything we need for the earthly mission. Remember how Jesus taught the disciples to pray:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

Perhaps the apostles and others were reminded of Jesus’ teaching here, such that after Jesus has spent time teaching them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3) and ascends to heaven (Acts 1:9), the disciples remember to pray. They don’t need to follow Jesus to heaven, they need to ask the Father to bring heaven to earth, to send his presence to be with them, to provide what they need for today’s task, and to empower them to continue his heavenly work here on earth. Prayer renews relationship with our heavenly Father to empower our faithfulness to the task(s) the Father has given to us. Spending some time with him each day fighting for faithfulness is essential to the Christian life of being sent into the world.

Praying Together

But notice that both Jesus’ instruction on how to pray and the description of the apostles praying in Acts describe praying together. Jesus always uses first person plural pronouns (our, us, etc.) in his prayer instruction. The description in Acts is that they “all with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together” (Acts 1:14). Our individual times of prayer alone with the Lord are good and right. In fact, Jesus often went by himself to pray. This is not to the exclusion of corporate prayer, however. The prayer life of the individual Christian should fuel unity and often be taken up in communal gatherings so that it can fuel our mission together

Spend some time this week reflecting on what you need for the mission that God has for you where you are. Ask others what they need for the mission God has for them where they are. Allow these needs to shape your prayer life individually and together. 

Mark Catlin