Prayer in New Testament Worship

Featuring Worshipedia Posted on June 1, 2010

Prayer, in the more specific sense of petition, is a constituent element of worship. The first duty of the church between the Ascension and the outpouring of the Spirit was to wait in prayerful expectancy. Persecution quickly forced the Jerusalem church to its knees in common prayer. The needs of Christians, the needs of apostles, and the needs of the world all provided constant material for intercession. Common concern produced common petition. One cannot say exactly how the church prayed. Perhaps a leader prayed for the whole, perhaps individuals prayed in course, perhaps there was recitation of a form or forms of prayer. Rather surprisingly, there is no immediate reference to a congregational use of the Lord’s Prayer; its use in the Didachē, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (an early Christian manual) is an individual usage. The Amen, having acquired a new and even deeper meaning from its use by Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20), occurs frequently in the New Testament and probably served as a congregational response, as in synagogue worship (cf. Justin, Apology I, 65–67). Stock phrases like maranatha might have been used also (1 Corinthians 16:22; cf. Revelation 22:20; Didachē 10, 7); otherwise it is difficult to see why they should be preserved in Aramaic. Blessings, whether from the Old Testament or in the new Christian form of 2 Corinthians 13:14 or Revelation 22:21, probably came into rapid use. The Epistles especially testify to the emergence of distinctive vocabulary of Christian worship in the New Testament period. Whatever the forms, however, the essential element of prayer belongs to worship from the very outset, and a genuine Christian service without it is almost unthinkable.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,