The Company

I remember reading a book in college, entitled, "The Company of the Committed." It was a great title. I have always been a sucker for a good title. It doesn't always deliver what it promises, but I will typically forgive the author, for putting more in their show window than they have on their shelves. A good title is sometimes thought provoking enough to point me in the right direction.

"When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again, and they were accompanying him to the ship." Acts 20: 36-38

Paul was in the company of the elders of the church. While they were accompanying him to the ship, they were grieving over Paul's departure to Jerusalem. All of this was God's will for them and for Paul, but obedience to The Spirit rarely leads to abstinence from pain. They were hurting over the separation, and they couldn't contain themselves. Tears flowed freely, as they held Paul tightly. They said their good-byes within the context of prayer and pain. They are not mutually exclusive emotions. They are dear friends.

Paul led them in prayer. The bond between leader and elders was not organizational or missional. It was spiritual. They were not held together by an organizational chart, a leadership seminar, or any other kind of man-made substance. The bond had been made in Heaven, and The Spirit that had forged strangers into family filled them with love for one another.

Note to self: There is nothing like it. Settle for nothing less.

"He knelt down and prayed with them all." v. 36

Paul's ministry had been birthed in prayer, bathed in prayer, and it would be buried in prayer. Prayer was not a magic talisman, an invocation, a benediction, a length of beads, or a form of liturgy. It was Paul's passion.

Paul would not take one more breath, or speak one more word, without praying with all those who would be responsible for carrying on the ministry. Kneeling on the dock prepared him for stepping on the deck. It prepared the elders for leaving Paul, and carrying out their mission. The ship would separate Paul from intimate friends, but it would intensify his intercession for them.

"Prayer is how we set our sails to catch the wind of Heaven." G. Campbell Morgan

Prayerless passion may lead to great zeal, but it will shed more heat than light. With a world blinded by darkness, Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world." The childhood song reminds us of our mission in this world, "Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine."

"He knelt down and prayed with them all." v. 36

My father graduated from Baylor University in 1949. One of the presidents of the university, while Dad was a student, was Gov. Pat Neff. He had been a U.S. Senator from Texas, and Governor of the state. He was a distinguished, silver haired Christian layman called upon to lead the school through the dark day of World War II.

Dad was part of the wave of students who came to Baylor on the GI Bill. These veterans brought wives and children with them to Waco, along with their war record, and a chest full of medals. They were not typical freshmen.

When Dad sensed the spiritual climate of the campus needed an infusion of light, he sought an audience with President Neff. One of his fondest memories is the moment when he was invited by the President to get on his knees with him, beside his desk, and to pray for Baylor. With tears, and passion the old man interceded for the students and for a great spiritual awakening to sweep the campus.

At 91 years of age, it is the one thing Dad tells me over and over again about his days at college. I believe the great Student Revival of 1949 that swept over Baylor, and spread to campuses all over America was a direct response from God to the prayers of a brokenhearted President.

Anyone who has ever had to lead an organization, large or small, knows that prayerless devotion to the task may fill the room with hot air, but it raises no sails to be filled with The Spirit. Prayer prepares the sails to be filled with the wind of Heaven. Talk can suck the oxygen out of the room, and make life hotter than Hell. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!