Prayer. It’s huge. In fact, it should be typed up as PRAYER!!! The NIV Bible has 155 references just to the particular variation of the word. Jesus gives both a model and an example of prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 puts in simply: “Pray without ceasing…”; an entire verse is dedicated to the idea. With so many examples, instructions and exhortations on the matter, why is it that prayer is so often a neglected part of the average Christian’s life?
Our church recently held a prayer meeting and openly gave the invitation to the entire church over the period of three weeks via bulletin insert, slide show presentation, word of mouth, and even a verbal announcement from the front for two straight weeks. The turn out was in the vicinity of 30-40 people from all areas of the church (i.e. pastoral staff, elders, small group leaders, lay people, new-comers) and the result of the evening was powerful! Grown men wept as they lay face down on our purple Harkins Theater carpet. While the night sent attendees home with running mascara and carpet-worn knees–more than anything else–people encountered God and the Holy Spirit in a very moving and powerful way that strengthened the faith of all who were present. I only have one question: where was the rest of the church?
In Matthew and Mark, Jesus referenced a verse found in Isaiah 56:7 where God instructs that His house “…shall be called a house of prayer….” (NIV). I believe that the spiritual discipline of prayer is very much lacking in our church and, very likely, in many others. As the church, we need to encourage those around us in our circle of influence to start disciplining ourselves in the area of prayer on a whole new level. James 5:16b states “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” It is an area of our spiritual walk that we cannot ignore the way we often do. We need to be a praying people and a praying church; and I’m not talking about the prayer to “bless” our food that we try to complete in under 5 seconds flat; I’m talking about spending time with the God of the universe and being quiet once in a while so we can actually hear what He wants to say to us.
So what do you say? Let’s give up our pride, give up our ignorance, and “give it up” to God and watch Him work in our lives and church like never before!