Yes, we are still exploring “listening prayer.” This is something many people miss about the training of the disciples after the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
The hour had come. Jesus must go to the cross to redeem the world. The timing of the “hour” came as something of a surprise to the twelve. Jesus had spent over three years mentoring these men. He promised that after He returned to the Father He would send the Spirit of Truth, to guide them into all the truth.
What? Was there more instruction the disciples had not yet received as they sat eating the last Passover supper together with their Master? Yes. Jesus said:
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. John 16:12-15
So, the training would continue. But how? This would all become clear to them after the resurrection, and before the ascension – a wedge of time only forty days long. It was sufficient time for Jesus to train these men how to listen to the indwelling Holy Spirit of Truth.
Remember, in a post-resurrection visit, as promised, Jesus had imparted the Spirit to them. We read of this in John 20:21-23. “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
Now we come to Luke’s history we call the Acts of the Apostles. Look closely how he begins in Acts 1:1-3.
The first account [i.e., the Gospel of Luke] I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
This was forty days of mentoring by Jesus after His resurrection and before His ascension and Pentecost. Before Calvary, the disciples were not able to grasp the whole epic work about to unfold on the cross and at the empty tomb. Now they were ready to hear the rest of God’s marvelous kingdom plan.
And here is our big lesson. Marvel at the grace of Jesus to take forty more days to teach His followers how to listen to the Holy Spirit before He ascended in glory to His rightful throne. I imagine Luke’s language allows us to observe this training: The disciples were gathered for prayer. Quietly, they began to receive Spiritual promptings. Surprised at what they thought they heard in their hearts, they might have asked, “Lord, really?”
Bata Bing! Bata Boom! Jesus “appeared” out of nowhere! He said, “Yes, really!” Through a sequence of such appearances, Jesus would confirm that they were hearing accurately from the Spirit. Then He would teach them more about His kingdom plan now that they were filled and walking in the Spirit.
Be encouraged. Jesus is patiently mentoring all of us through the Word and the Spirit to build confidence that He has equipped us with “ears that can hear what the Spirit is saying” to churches like Clearwater.