Sure, prayer is powerful, but how can it be an especially powerful force in your church? Drawing from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians there are seven powerful directives including prayer. I submit for your consideration that we are a generation that enjoys church, but we do not enjoy praying. We enjoy preaching but we do not enjoy praying. We enjoy praise but we do not enjoy praying.
Yet, when an ineffective church engages in prayer for one another it eases the anger, hurt and despair and helps us better understand the actions of the people that we are praying for. You will not despise people you understand. You will not be hurt by people you understand. If you are unwilling to pray for someone in your church to be blessed, then you are the one with a bitter spirit. You cannot be full of bitterness toward a sister or brother and full of the Holy Spirit at the same time.
Prayer drives out compromise. Prayer drives out carnality. Prayer drives out confusion. Prayer drives out foolishness. Prayer puts you in line with God’s will. When Jesus knew it was time for Him to go to the cross, what did He do? He prayed.
Imagine the overwhelming pressure of this one evening. This is the night that Judas will betray Him. This is the night that most of the disciples will run. This is the night that He will be left alone. This is the night that He goes to Pilot’s hall. He knew and told His followers that He had come “to do the will of the Father” (John 5:30). It’s one thing to say it, now it is time to fulfill it.
This night of loneliness and pressure in a dark garden is not easy. It was a joy when He multiplied the loaves and the fishes, walked on water and turned water into wine, but now? Now, the strongest of the soldiers are ready to beat His precious body. He knew what He was supposed to do, but there is little desire to submit to it. What did Jesus do? He prayed. He placed this most dynamic moment in the backdrop of God’s will. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
After a quick and disappointing check on the disciples who accompanied Him, Jesus went back into the garden. To do what? Pray. And again, He prayed. Three specific times, under great duress, His response was to pray.
The foundation of spiritual progress and elevation is prayer. We love to praise God, but we cannot be so in love with the excitement of praise that we forget who we are praising. We have become world entertainers instead of world changers.
Did you ever wonder why out of all the things we do in church, our prayer time is one of the shortest parts of the service? We have a 45-minute music set, and then a 4.5 minute prayer time.
Why? People don’t do much praying.
# # #
Adapted from Eyes Wide Open: The Power of Clear Spiritual Vision by Terry Lewis