The prayer life of the early church was founded on the teaching about prayer in the Old Testament as practiced by the Jews of the time. Did the early Christians use the Lord’s Prayer during these times? We cannot be sure. We do know that by the second century they were using it. In fact, the manual of church life called the Didache recommended the use of the Lord’s Prayer three times a day.13
The great contribution of Jesus to the Christian understanding of prayer was his intimacy with God, whom he called “Father” (Mark 14:36). He taught his disciples also to share this intimacy, and even the Gentile Christians used the characteristic Aramaic word that he used, “Abba,” when addressing God (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). This new understanding of intimacy with God would have been actualized in their experience through the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The fourth-century Bible expositor John Chrysostom defined prayer as “conversation with God.
Understanding the sense of loss His disciples were feeling as they anticipated His leaving, the Lord Jesus Christ had promised in John 14:13–14 that “whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” The early church took that promise as the source of God’s provision for all their needs, and they relentlessly pursued divine help. The prayer in view here is not only that of individual believers but of the church corporately (cf. 1:14, 24; 4:24–31).