A Thing or Two About Prayer
I realize that if we are not careful, prayer can become the most neglected spiritual practice in our lives. Sometimes the amount of time spent in ministry related activities does not correlate with our intimacy with God. That’s right, we can get busy doing what we call “ministry” and neglect to spend time with our Father in focused prayer. This has happened to me more times than I want to admit. Perhaps I’m not alone in this… Maybe you do it too.
There are certain activities throughout a day that demand our attention and to neglect these activities would result in consequences. But, who knows how much time you spend in focused prayer. When I say “focused prayer” I’m not talking about when you sit at the table and say grace. Most of what we call saying “grace” is so perfunctory and redundant it doesn’t even require us to be in thinking mode. In fact, we’re not even concerned whether God hears this prayer or not. We just want to get through it before the food gets cold.
What if we actually paid more attention to prayer? What if our prayers became more focused?
I’m not suggesting that they become shorter, or even longer, just simply more focused.
Jesus had a few things to say about prayer. Prayer actually fueled all of Jesus’s ministry and walk with God. Prayer was the backbone of our Savior’s life; his direct connection to the presence of His Father. Prayer is what grounded Jesus in obedience and faithful relationship with the Father. Of all the things the disciples could of asked of Jesus, this was what they asked of Him. “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
If prayer was such an important part of Jesus’ life, should it not be even more important in ours? This is especially true for those of us who want to be more Christ like.
The Gospels portray Jesus as continually withdrawing to pray alone, giving many teachings on prayer, encouraging others to consistently pray, and relying on prayer in every circumstance. As we look to the gospels, we see Jesus praying even in the final hours of His earthly life.
A modern example of the power of prayer in the body of believers is, The Brooklyn Tabernacle based in New York City. In his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Senior Pastor Jim Cymbala records the incredible journey of The Brooklyn Tabernacle over the past several decades as he has witnessed massive revival in the church and its local community, all driven by the prayer gatherings of God’s people. If you go on the church’s website, you will find this on their weekly schedule, “We consider our Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting to be the most important service of the week at The Brooklyn Tabernacle.” God has said in his Word, “Call unto me, and I will answer…” Jeremiah 33:3
In case you missed it, the Brooklyn Tabernacle actually considered the prayer gathering to be of greater significance than the traditional Sunday service.
In the book of Acts, it is evident that prayer was the lifeblood of the early church. Notice this… “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14. Along with the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, and the breaking of bread, prayer was one of the four pillars of the group practices of the church at its inception (Acts 2:42).
All throughout the story of the church growing, every step was marked by effective prayer that aligned God’s people with His will and filled them with His Spirit (Acts 4:23-31).
The late, great C.H. Spurgeon said, “The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-o-meter, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be a slothfulness in prayer!” Those words were written over a hundred years ago and they ring true today.
I am excited to see what God is going to do in our church, our community and abroad as God’s people come together in prayer. This is something that you definitely want to be a part of. May we become a people driven by prayer because we desperately need God’s Spirit to invade every area of our lives, every corner of our church, our city, our state, and our nation.
There will be no presence of the Kingdom without the presence of the King Himself.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” -Psalm 127:1
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