Acts on Prayer — Absence Makes the Heart Grow Prayerful

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

This is still a study on prayer in the Book of Acts. So, why am I referencing John? Because what happens in Acts 1:9-11 was mentioned by Christ to His disciples from before the crucifixion.

“It is expedient for you that I go away.”

Imagine what it must have been like for the disciples when the Lord left them for the last time! The twelve (minus Judas Iscariot) had spent three years of intense discipleship with none other than the very Son of God. They ate with Him, talked with Him, worked with Him – and then He was crucified before their very eyes. They didn’t understand that this was expedient for them, too – for all of us. All they saw is that their Savior had died and everything they had invested of their lives was lost.

Then the Savior rose again the third day. What excitement! What elation! What pure joy! The Lord had risen, Conqueror of Death and therefore sin. At the time, I don’t know if they understood that Christ’s resurrection was also expedient for all mankind. I think what the disciples saw was: “Here our Savior is risen again. They can’t take Him from us now and surely He’ll establish Israel’s kingdom again!”

Then came the necessary fulfillment of John 16:7. Maybe they understood, but they were only just beginning to understand. What’s clear is that the Lord expected them to understand because He doesn’t remind them of His words in John 16:7. He just gives them their mission (Acts 1:8) and He ascends.

What!!??

Can you blame the disciples for just standing there? I can only imagine what they were thinking: “Lord, how can you leave us now? We need You!” It’s ironic how God chose heavenly beings to bring the disciples back to earth:

Acts 1:10-11a

(10)  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

(11)  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven…?

These men in white apparel were angels. It kind of explains how they just showed up out of nowhere. Angels are funny like that. “Why are you just standing there? There’s work to be done!”

But it was a challenge with promise:

“…[T]his same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11b.

So they were not left comfortless. And maybe then Jesus’ promise to them started coming into sharper focus:

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

The disciples might have been thinking or saying to each other: “There’s work to be done. How do we do it? Where do we get the strength and the power without the Lord here physically with us? In the past, He was right here!

Sometimes for us to understand a spiritual truth, God has to take some things away in order to remove the distractions. He has to create in us some necessary dependencies so that we turn to Him on purpose to get the help we need. Because the power to do His work can only come from Him.

That word “expedient” means “necessary,” or “profitable.” It’s from the Greek word sumphero (soom-FER-oh). The “umph” in the middle of that word is where we get our English word “oomf!”

I’m kidding. No it’s not, but we do need Holy Spirit “oomf” if we’re going to get God’s work done!

Why was it expedient for our incarnate Lord to leave us? So He could expand His reach to all of His disciples through all the world and through all time by means of His Holy Spirit. Praise God the incarnate Lord left us, but He did not leave us alone!

So now the disciples had something to pray about! They needed to pray for the arrival of the Comforter. They needed guidance. They needed power. They never would have realized any of that had the Lord not “left” them.

God, help me to depend wholly on You today! Please grant me the assurance of Your presence and the power of Your Holy Spirit to what You would have me to do today! Amen!

2 thoughts on “Acts on Prayer — Absence Makes the Heart Grow Prayerful

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