When we read about the “birth” of the Church on the Day of Pentecost—the tongues of fire, the sound of a mighty wind, the proclamation of the Good News in many languages—we may think, “What a bizarre, incredible story!” The people seem chaotic and out of control on one hand—and yet caring and compassionate. They are tightly joined as a group—but also willing to reach out to others. What is it about this gathering that led them to become so spiritually “fired up” with enthusiasm?
It is important to note that the events of Pentecost begin and end in prayer. In the first chapter of Acts, we read that Jesus promises the arrival of the Holy Spirit from God. After his ascension, the disciples and women and Jesus’ family pray together. Acts 1:14 tells us that “all these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer.” Prayer is the prelude to the power of Pentecost.
Prayer is also the postlude to the events of the day. Acts 2:42 says that these people devoted themselves to “the breaking of the bread and prayers.” Prayer serves as the beginning and end, the alpha and omega, and bookends to this amazing story.
So, this story can inspire us today. Do we feel that we are filled with the Spirit—or are we “running on fumes”? Is there a sense of spiritual vitality within our faith community—or has our get-up-and-go got-up-and-gone? Do we manifest the presence and power of God—or do we seem listless and lifeless? Prayer is not only the glue that holds us close to God—it is the fuel that fires us up as the people of God.