Study 4 THE UPPER ROOM
The Shining Pathway
by Francis Dixon
(Key verses: Acts 1: 13-14)
In the life of the Christian there must be the “shut door” (private prayer), and in the life of any church there must be an ”upper room” (public prayer). And just as there is no substitute for private prayer in the life of the Christian, so nothing can take the place of public prayer in the life of the church. The church was born in the upper room. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, for which those early disciples were told to wait, was to mark the birth and the beginning of the infant church; and for ten days this company of praying souls was gathered in the place of united prayer until the heavens were rent and “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). It is in such upper rooms that the greatest business in the world is transacted by the church, under the presidency of the Holy Spirit, where humble, born-again souls meet and prostrate themselves before Him in a willingness to do His will.
In many respects, this eve-of-Pentecost prayer meeting was a model one, so let us note some of its characteristics mentioned in Acts 1:14:-
- 1. Notice the word ”ALL”. “They all joined together constantly in prayer…” That is, the eleven apostles, the women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and our Lord’s brothers - and there were about 120 present (verse 15). The lesson is simple: it is the privilege and responsibility of all to attend the prayer meeting.
- 2. They “joined together CONSTANTLY in prayer …” Their praying was persevering and steadfast. There is no suggestion that they ate, slept or lived in the upper room, but the Holy Spirit records the fact that they all joined together constantly - look up Acts 12:5-17.
- 3. They “JOINED TOGETHER”. They prayed with one mind and one heart. There was unanimity about the matters for which they prayed; there was heart-agreement between the pray-ers, and they enjoyed the unity of the Spirit - look up Ephesians 4:3. United prayer is vain if the pray-ers are not on good terms with one another – read Psalm 133, and compare Matthew 5:23-24.
- 4. They continued in “PRAYER”. The use of the word “prayer” reminds us that it includes praise, worship, thanksgiving, adoration, confession and intercession. Frequently in our praying the note of praise is not sufficiently to the forefront, so let us always bring to Him that which glorifies Him, even our praise.
- 5. They united in prayer and “SUPPLICATION (KJV)”. They made definite petitions, asking for God’s will to be accomplished, beseeching Him that He would “open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing” (Malachi 3:10). We have illustrations of this kind of definite prayer all through the Book of Acts.
What is the result of such meetings of the church for united prayer?
1. The first result is guidance in the administration of the church.
It has been suggested that Peter and the other disciples acted in the energy of the flesh in appointing Matthias to take the place of Judas (read verses 14-26), but verse 24 suggests otherwise, and significantly Acts 6:2 speaks of “the Twelve”. Evidently the Holy Spirit recognised his presence with the eleven. The lesson is obvious: only where there is united prayer on the part of the members can there be the accomplishing of God’s will in and through the church. Without such praying, wrong decisions will be made, man’s wisdom will be exalted and God’s work will be hindered; but with much praying the work of God will go forward and His will can be accomplished.
2. The second result will be the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
The result of this prayer meeting was Pentecost! - and the result of every true prayer meeting should and will be Pentecost - the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Compare Acts 4:23-31, and notice that the same disciples who were present in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost were again filled with the Holy Spirit following a time of urgent intercession and prayer. More prayer on the part of the whole fellowship of God’s people means more of the convicting and converting power of the Holy Spirit in the personal and public preaching of the gospel, and more power in the lives of God’s people, enabling them to show forth the beauty of the Lord Jesus in their daily walk and witness.
3. The third result will be the presence and power of Satan.
As soon as the Spirit of God began to work in the church, the Adversary began also. In the Book of Acts, see how Satan did his utmost to disturb the work of God. A full and prosperous prayer meeting is the guarantee of the presence of two great personalities – the Holy Spirit and Satan. Thank God, however, for the truth in 1 John 4:4! The Devil is a defeated foe, and when a church knows how to “pray through”, the Spirit of the Lord will put him to flight (Isaiah 59:19, footnote). The Devil leaves some churches alone: he does not attack the church that is little more than a religious club, or that is propagating a different gospel (Galatians 1:6), or that is worldly and places no great value on the preaching of the Word, the ministry of prayer and the desperate need of lost men and women. No, he attacks the church in which the Holy Spirit is at work! The fact that Satan is on the warpath need not be a cause for discouragement, therefore; and where God’s people know how to pray through, the powers of darkness will not only be held back, but Satan’s devices will be used by God to further His purposes.
4. The fourth result will be the mighty spread of the gospel.
Within a few days of the conclusion of this prayer meeting, the whole of Heaven’s machinery was set in motion for the spreading of the gospel (Acts 1:8). Prayer thrusts out workers - look up Matthew 9:38.