Back to the Early Church: a Key Indicator of Vibrant Christian Faith Lies in the Frequency of Intercessory Prayer for Others

Three pairs of praying hands placed on a Holy Bible
Three pairs of praying hands placed on a Holy Bible (photo:
By Li ShiguangNovember 13th, 2023

Prayer, especially prayer for others, is a very important feature of the Apostolic Church in the first century or the early church.

Having served in a city church in Northeast China for many years, Pastor Li Tao stressed that the church and believers in the Apostolic times placed great importance on prayer, especially interceding for others. He believes that intercession is one of the most important indicators of the health of the Christian faith.

Everyone in the early church had the habit of prayer.

In the early church, everyone had the habit of praying. And this kind of life of prayer was habitual and constant (not occasional and sudden). For example, the Bible records that Cornelius often prayed before God, and Peter (one of the Apostles) abided by the standard of prayer well, going up to the roof to pray at noon. If Cornelius and Peter had only occasionally prayed, God probably would not have given them the instructions to have a positive encounter. They prayed often, and this became the basis and prerequisite for their meeting.

In present-day churches, perhaps the vast majority of people lack regular prayer at private times. Although we all know that prayer is very important, we often pray after we have finished everything. For example, in a church, it would already be late when the church workers finished their work, and they would be in urgent need of rest after a simple wash. In this way, the prayer that should have been given is canceled. Prayer is obviously important, but we often don't think much of it.

Everyone in the early church had a ministry of intercession.

In the early church, intercession was extremely important, and everyone had an intercession service. Paul, for example, even regarded intercession as the most important of all ministries.

In Paul's letters, we can see that Paul not only interceded for the churches he founded, such as Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica, etc., but also that Paul would ask the people to pray for him. "Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel."

Pastor Li Tao said that whether it is the past or the present, whether it is the church in the Apostolic era or the church today, one theme that has not changed is that Satan always wants to attack us. "So how can we withstand Satan's attack? The devil will often choose divide-and-conquer tactics to defeat us. But if we set up an intercession group, many people can pray for the person when he attacks him or her. Then it will no longer be one person fighting Satan alone, but many people fighting Satan together, and then we will easily win."

The problem, however, is that "such connection and intercession are sorely lacking in the church today." He continued, "We are modern people. We emphasize the individual and pay attention to protect ourselves. We will not tell others about private things. Therefore, even if there are some things for others to help us pray for, they often do not involve anything private. The really important topics of intercession are not shared."

Everyone in the early church had an open life. 

In the early church, everyone had an open life, and there was much communion with each other. The present churches and believers emphasize the individual and care about protecting the privacy of the individual. Communication often lacks depth.

Pastor Tao Li believes that the degree to which a person is willing to open himself up is related to the degree of safety and the degree of release. "So how can we achieve a more effective opening? We should try to increase the level of safety and the level of release," he said.

"One of the tactics that the devil often uses when he attacks us is to make us distrust people and feel insecure. Some people once opened themselves up, but others did not really love him or help him, and they even revealed the problems he had confessed. So, a lot of people are afraid to open up anymore."

Pastor Li Tao said, "If we divulge other people's affairs, especially private matters, it is evil. We are actually attacking him and hurting him by doing that. Such a move may not only hurt him personally, but even more so, it may even bring an end to the culture of openness in the church. This is evil, and it is even great evil."

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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