The more perplexing question about the disciples’ prayer life is not why they failed, but how did they succeed? If they could not pray one hour on the final night of Jesus’ life, how did they pray 10 days—or the better part of two hundred-forty hours—only a month later?
The account carefully says, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). The word devoting is translated from the Greek word proskartereo, which means “to adhere to, to persevere, to lock on and refuse to let go.”
As a pit bull locks on to a hunk of raw meat, or a heat-seeking missile locks on to the heat source and will not change its course until it strikes, these disciples locked on to the heat source of heaven and refused to deviate off their target. They locked on with proskartereo perseverance until they encountered the manifest presence of Christ. This level of hardcore commitment is somewhat unique. This is the first time the word proskartereo is used to describe the disciples because for the first time they qualified. They turned into ninja warrior pray-ers—so how did it happen?
Don’t think for a moment that this proskartereo level of devotion was the result of greater willpower. No way! Determination will not create proskartereo-level commitment because determination is rooted in the will, and the will is part of the soul.
Proskartereo does not come from the soul; proskartereo comes from the spirit and is the result of God’s prevenient grace. This is why we can say with certainty that this level of tenacity in prayer is a miracle. These first disciples never could have generated this by themselves; proskartereo is clearly the sovereign work of God in them. This proskartereo devotion in us is always the work of Christ, never the result of self-will.
Parts of this article have been developed with permission using material from Author and Rev. Fred Hartley, International College of Prayer.