A Church That Prays

When everything seems to be against God's people what do we do? How do we respond? When we find ourselves stuck in a situation without any means of escape, what do we do? When we need fresh vision for ministry and mission what do we do? When we want to train new leaders what do we do?

I can't answer for you, but I know what I do. I complain to my wife that things are hard, uncertain, and no one wants to lead. I plan, strategize, start new programs, and talk about ideas. I grow discouraged when things don't go the way I want or hope. What I don't do is make prayer a priority. That doesn't mean I don't pray. I like talking to God. It's just that I have this urge to get to the plans and find solutions forgetting that I need God's power, wisdom, and provision. All of these other things, apart from complaining, are fine to do, but they often seem to proceed prayer.

This is so different from the account of the church in Acts. When I look at the New Testament as a whole I see disciples who long to pray like Jesus. I see Jesus who made it a priority in his earthly ministry: Luke 5.16, 6.12, Mark 1.35, Matthew 14.23, John 17,  Luke 23.34.

I read of a young church devoted to prayer and seeking the Lord for direction and courage (Acts 1.14, 2.42,  4.31, 6.4, 6.6, 10.9, 12.5, 12, 13.3, 14.23, 16.25, 20.36). They pray when things are good and bad. They are committed to prayer individually and together.

Further encouragement comes from the epistles. Paul’s letters are full of prayers, requests for prayer, and urgency to pray, illustrating the importance of the churches modeling themselves after the Jerusalem church. Among these many references to prayer are Paul’s own examples (Romans 11.33-36, Romans 16.25-27, 2 Cor 13.13, Eph 1.3-10, 11-14, 16-19, 3.14-21, Phil 1.1-11, Col 1.9-14, 1 Thess 3.11-13). In short I see a church who longs to pray, who make time to pray, and who learn to pray. They don’t worry about forms of prayer, or about the place they pray, but make it a habit and a reaction to the many challenges and opportunities they face.

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