Summary: If prayer is the fundamental key in worship why do churches neglect it so much
Note: This sermon was written in late 2019 and scheduled for March 29, well before the COVID-19 outbreak. The delivery was slightly modified and updated to connect with the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe every message is Spirit-led as I write them, but I truly believe this message was given by God in preparation for this global event. I therefore chose NOT to include the few modifications I made for the March 29, 2020 delivery so that it may be adapted for your setting according to how the Spirit inspired me as I wrote this message. You may find the delivery of this message on YouTube by going to our channel GCC Winchester or our webpage www.gracecommunity.com. To God Be All the Glory!
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land or send pestilence among my people, If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
I wonder how many times we’ve heard that Scripture? Most of us hold onto this for the reason of national purposes. We say, we’ll pray and God will heal the brokenness in America. God will help end racism. God will tear down walls of poverty, kill injustice, restore the meaning of marriage, and so on. But that’s too easy because we get to deflect God’s call from ourselves onto something external. Meanwhile, how are things in your land? How are things progressing in the brokenness in your home? How is God healing the racism in your heart? How is He doing as the Lord or your finances? How’s your marriage? Are you humbling yourself, seeking God’s face, praying, and letting him heal your land?
What about our church? Are we investing the fervency in prayer that God is asking us? Is our church humble enough to pray for our land, our marriages, our homes, our pastors, our community? How would you grade our church today in the subject of prayer? As the pastor here, I often feel convicted about how little time we as a church focus on prayer.
I. Our Prayers are the Deepest form of Worship to God
I started this series with a definition of worship: “Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by His holiness (not mine); It is the nourishment of the mind with His truth (not mine); It is the purifying of the imagination by His beauty (not mine); It is the opening of the heart to his Love (not mine); It is the surrender of the will to His purpose (not mine)” All of these things are predicated on us being people of prayer. In other words, if we are going to be a church of worship, we must FIRST be a church of prayer!
That's why God starts with the words, "If MY PEOPLE who are called by MY NAME..."
Let us go back to Romans 12:
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
No how do we do that?...
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, [and most importantly] BE CONSTANT IN PRAYER.
People are blown away by the success of churches in South Korea and the victory there. It doesn’t take long to realize the reason is 6:30 AM prayer meetings; weekly prayer groups and constant meditation on God. People were blown away by Lisa’s miracle (be raised from the dead). I knew a miracle was coming because God’s people decided to pray - not me - you did! And look at what God did that night. I hear quite a bit of talk about the desire for these kinds of things, but very little action.