Summary: Our churches should be powerhouses of prayer before the throne of God.
Becoming A House of Prayer
I remember the early days of being here at Britton Christian Church. The very first Sunday that I ever stood in this pulpit I confessed to you that I didn't know a thing about being a pastor, but that if you would pray for me and if I would earnestly seek God then I was certain that He would provide all that I lacked. On that Sunday morning I invited everyone present to join me on Sunday night for prayer. I said, "We need to seek the Lord and to have Him share with us what is on His heart and what He is doing in this neighborhood so that we can join Him." I remember those prayer meetings as we joined together in the parlor and sought the Lord. Those were some of the sweetest times of fellowship and prayer that I have ever experienced at Britton Christian Church. It was through those times of prayer together that God birthed so much of what is happening to this day. Many of you who are new to Britton Christian Church can't understand how powerfully God was present in those times of prayer since you weren't here, but let me tell you that God moved our hearts and He gave us, a dying church, new life!
The message that the Lord has given me to share this morning is not an easy one for me to share. The spiritual climate of our society today has made it so that we expect preachers to stand before us and tell us how good we are, how good God is, and how everything is really alright. This is not the message the Lord has given me. The Lord has shown me that we are a friendly church who welcomes people with love and grace. He has shown me that He has given us a heart for those who are hurting and those who need to know Jesus. He has shown me that He has far greater plans for this church than any we have seen come to fruition to date. He has also shown me that He desires to move us back to where we started. Humbled, yearning for Him in prayer as a church. God has shown me that we are united in love, we are united in grace, but we are not united in prayer. If we are ever going to see God's grace and majesty rain down upon this congregation and community then we must seek Him together in prayer. God desires that Britton Christian Church will one day be known not for its outreach ministries, not for its preaching, not for its welcoming, warm atmosphere, but for its passion for prayer.
For the Church of Jesus Christ to fulfill her Savior's commission, her Master's mandate, there is no substitute for prayer. There is no greater lesson that God has shown me during my time away than this: prayer is the heart and soul of the Church. Prayer is the lifeblood of the Church through which the very heart of God, His will and His ways, His counsel, His mercy, grace and salvation, and His empowering presence are made manifest.
Sweet times of conversation in the quiet of our own personal time with God each day are vital for our living life to the glory of God. For the individual, prayer is more important than three square meals a day. Prayer is to the Christian what the first breath of life is to a newborn baby. Prayer opens us up to the life-giving Spirit of God who yearns to speak to us from the Father's heart. Prayer pumps life-giving, holy oxygen throughout our bodies and moves us beyond the limp existence of normal life. In a world of six billion people, God grants a private audience to those men, women, boys, and girls who will take time to be still and know that He is God. My friend, prayer is the precious blessing of actually enjoying the magnificent and majestic presence of the God of the Universe.
As important as prayer is to the spiritual growth and daily sustenance of the individual, there is still yet a step beyond the blessings that can come from my own private times of prayer with God. God has set us who are His children in the Body of Christ. What the eye can come to know by itself pales in comparison to what it can know in relation to the entire body. What it can experience, the places it can go, the insights it can gain, and the strength it can experience are very limited compared to the heights it can attain if it will but work with the rest of the body.
In our country today, we have personalized and privatized our faith. We want to know, "How can Jesus help me? What difference can God make in my life? Can God make me happy, help me escape the turmoil I have been experiencing, and get me what I want out of life?" God cares deeply for you and for me my friend, but in focusing on us we are leaving out, missing, one of the most important aspects and elements of our lives - God has set us in a Body, the Body of Christ. It is in relation to the rest of the Body that we can see God move, reveal, and empower like at no other time.