This week has been designated by our General Superintendent, Thomas Trask as a special “Week of Prayer” to begin the New Year.
Trask said, “This church (the A/G) has always been a praying church. But we need to intensify our commitment to prayer and continually renew the altar within our churches, within our homes and within our heart…we must acknowledge our total dependence on God or we cannot fulfill the mission to which He has called us. Nothing of any lasting value is going to happen through the church that isn’t first birthed and bathed in prayer. Prayer makes everything else happen and tells God we are dependent on Him.”
Refer to themes on book marker/bulletin insert. Commit to at least 10 minutes per day this week.
I want to share briefly about the importance of corporate prayer. Over a century ago the English preacher Charles Hadden Spurgeon had this to say in a sermon, "The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a graceometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be a slothfulness in prayer.”
Corporate prayer is so very important. It’s important for the church to pray together. It’s important for the church to seek the face of God together. And yet frankly, corporate prayer is one of the things that our churches struggle with doing. We, as leaders announce a prayer meeting - we tell people we’re going to get together to pray and seek the face of God – and we might get a handful of people. Even in a church where God is really moving. It’s hard to get people together to pray. Yet, there are some things that are never going to happen in churches unless God’s people pray, unless God’s people really learn to get hold of God.
Churches are not praying. The Early Church was not only born in a prayer meeting, but the Early Church prayed constantly. It was a part of the pattern of the church. It was what they did. It was what they were about. Acts 2:42 says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” They were constantly about prayer. So if we’re going to have a New Testament church, if we’re going to model what we see happening in the New Testament, then we must pray. The Early Churches didn’t just talk about prayer, they just didn’t tell the people to pray; they were people who prayed. They were people who knew how to get a hold of God.
God has blessed Faith Assembly. God has raised this church up. Some great things are happening here. People are coming into the church and accepting Christ on a weekly basis. Lives are being changed. Victories are taking place. God is giving us favor in our community. We’re beginning to make a difference out there in the streets. God is raising up a team of intercessors. We’ve got a group of men who want to pray together. We have almost 70 people signed up for “Fire Guard” – people praying every 30 minutes for our church. We’ve got a telephone/e-mail “prayer chain.” Our youth are praying every Friday night. A new small group “Too Busy Not to Pray.” This is good. This is exciting. But I can’t help but wonder, “What If We All Prayed?”
While speaking at a conference Pastor Jim Cymbala said this in the middle of his message, "I have to say this and I hope I’m not the only one who gets embarrassed here." He went on to say, "When you hear Christians talk about no prayer in schools, I mean, give it a rest. There’s no prayer in the church! I get embarrassed when I hear that. I tell you the truth. I get embarrassed when I hear (Christians gripe about) no prayer in the schools. ‘We’re going to have a prayer day in March and…’ oh, give it a rest. Just pray! Just do it. And if you can’t do it, then let’s get before God and say, ‘God, I’m building on the wrong foundation. I’ve learned to play the numbers game, but I don’t have the religion of the Bible.’ (But) you know, we are going to stand before Him and His eyes are like fire. And what will it matter what you thought of me then." i.e. - “I’m going to say what I think, even if it offends you.”
Sure, God has blessed our church. We have a lot of people getting saved. The church has grown. An outward observer would say, "It’s well with Faith Assembly." But we are not a church a praying church. There are opportunities for people to pray. There are times when people can pray. We believe in prayer. We have Sunday night altar services, which is a prayer meeting of sorts. And yet, as a church we are not really about the business of prayer. We’re really were not doing what is reflected in the New Testament. And we’re really not doing what is reflected in the heart of God when He said, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations."
When people talk about Faith Assembly what do they say? What do we want them to say? How do we want to be known? I believe we have a good and increasingly positive reputation in our community. I think people may say a lot of wonderful things about Faith Assembly. (“Oh, you’re the church that does that big VBS or Light the Night or the free oil changes, or DivorceCare or Celebrate Recovery or Operation Blessing or PowerSurge.”) But they wouldn’t say we were a strong, praying church. I don’t think of us as a strong praying church – a church built on prayer. I ask myself, How can we get people to come out to pray? I don’t know a “secret formula.” I just know we need to pray.
There’s one reason why a church ought to have a prayer meeting: That is to understand that because we pray, God has said He will hear from heaven and answer. And if we don’t pray, He’ll do nothing. That’s why we pray.
Where else do we go to get our mountains moved? Where else are we going to receive what we need and could never accomplish in ourselves in a million years? Where else are we going to receive answers to situations that boggle the mind? Where else are we going to receive supernatural help that all of us need at different junctures in our life? Where else are we going to get the power that we need to touch our generation? It’s only going to come when we pray and call out to God. Everything we could ever want is found in prayer because God has said that He will hear from heaven when His people cry out.
God has given us prayer as a wonderful provision by which we can receive absolutely everything we need. Apart from it we can receive nothing or do nothing. The problem is, most of us don’t have that sense of desperation. We’re too self-sufficient. We pretty much know that if God doesn’t show up, we’ll get through. We know that if God doesn’t come down, we’re still going to have church. We as a society/generation in the church today, operate like this: “God it would be nice if You would come down and help me in this situation, but if You don’t, the doctor will, the banker will, my friend will, or I’ll think of something.”
The fact of the matter is that’s exactly how the enemy would like us to operate. Satan is not afraid of our cleverness. He’s not afraid of our ingenuity and he’s not afraid of our human efforts. He loves for us to rely on self. You guys are going to get tired of Wayde Wilson in a hurry. My best efforts will bore you after a while, but you’ll never get bored with Jesus. You’ll never get bored with His presence. You’ll never get bored of waiting on the Lord if God is really there.
So what are we going to do? I’m not sure, but we’re going to pray! I’m just asking you this morning to come alongside your pastors and pray with us. We understand that you are all busy people with lots of things going on. But at the same time, most of us, at one time or another, are confronted with things in life we don’t have answers or resources for. God has our answers if we will pray. Every week we have an hour and fifteen minutes on Wednesday nights that we can use to pray together. I’m going to be talking to the board about that possibility this week in our board meeting. We are so “subject/teaching driven.” When do we just pray?
I envision something loosely organized – which is hard for me because I like a plan – but I want to be led by the Spirit. There may be some live or recorded worship, but it won’t be worship driven. There may be some teaching element at times, but it won’t be teaching driven. We may feel led some nights to pray for the sick or others to pray for our city or to pray for marriages – but I don’t want to be “theme” driven. Whatever we decide, I want to treat it like it’s the most important thing we do all week long. More important than Sunday mornings.
You constantly hear me say – and it’s even become a part of our mission statement – “WE WANT A CHURCH LIKE JESUS WANTS.” I really mean it when I tell you that I want to do whatever God wants us to do. It’s not my church. It’s not your church. IT’S HIS CHURCH. I want this question to motivate us all:
What would happen this year if every week we came together – 75, 100, 150 of us or more – to pray? What if we ALL prayed? What will this church look like a year from now? What victories will we have experienced? How many lives will be changed? How will it impact our city, our families, our marriages, and our individual lives? I’m asking you to commit with me to doing whatever it takes to find out.