Summary: The 2nd in a series of building revival. This concerns importance of persistent prayer - in a life and in a church.
Thank you, Lesley, for addressing us on such an important and Godly topic as prayer. And I thank you for being open enough to the Lord to have Him lay this upon your heart, and then your loving Him enough to act upon it.
Last week, I talked about our need to focus on church growth through revival in the church. I related the strength found in revival to a rope, and suggested that a rope is strong because it is made up of different strands, all woven together.
The strands that make the rope are all different, and some are not as strong as others, yet when the rope is pulled tight and put under a lot of pressure, the strands press against one another, and in effect, they reinforce each other so that all become stronger. Individual Christians and churches alike are all pulled closer to one another and strengthened by each other when we are pulled tight and put under pressure. Throughout history, the most church growth has been seen during times of extreme pressure against Christians and against the Christian church.
Again, the four needed elements, or strands, of revival are:
· Fasting, and
· Entering Communion
Even though I mentioned each of these strands last week, I spoke mainly about the strand of giving. Today, I would like to cover the strand of prayer.
We are all used to the word ‘prayer’, and most of us do pray. But many of us do not really understand prayer. Prayer is simply the most powerful weapon a Christian has; but it is also the least used weapon we have.
Jesus wants His kingdom to grow. The best place to get that continual growth is from within the local church. And, if a church is to grow, it must prepare to grow. This preparation begins with prayer. Persistent prayer is the foundation of all Christian growth, whether it be in the individual or the church.
Fervent and persistent prayer has always been of utmost importance to God’s people.
It talks about the disciples in Acts 1:14;
‘All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.’
They were “continually in prayer”. These men knew the importance of prayer and they devoted themselves to it.
We are reminded in 1 THESSALONIANS 5:17 to –
George Barna is an expert on church administration. Just a couple of years ago, he was in Little Rock, AR., addressing a church leadership seminar. This is what he said.
“The call to prayer was the battle cry of the early congregation: it rallied the troops. These people understood the power of prayer. They actively and consistently included prayer in their services, in their events, their meetings and their personal ministries.”
It is my most fervent hope that 2006 proves to be a year where avid, in-depth prayer finds home in this church; that we come to know the need for prayer and the power found in prayer.
He also said, “culture reinvents itself every 5 to 8 years, while the church reinvents itself ever 35 to 40 years. Therefore the church is at least 75 to 80 years behind culture all the time.”
The church needs to grow for the Lord. I have heard it said many times that a healthy church is a growing church. But like I said a moment ago, if a church is to grow, it must prepare to grow. And, the foundation of this preparation is prayer. When we talk about praying, we must start at the basics, and that is; how do we start praying? There are many ways to pray, and all are correct as long as they come from a pure and seeking heart, but to for a person to develop a habit of prayer, they must start simply.
1. ONE MODULE TO HELP START A HABIT OF PRAYER
If you have never developed a daily habit of fervent prayer, you might need some discipline guidelines to help you begin. Let me give you a quick, but very effective way to set up a prayer discipline. We will use the A.C.T.S. module.
‘A’ stands for Affirmation.
We begin by affirming that God is the Creator, and as such, He deserves total adoration from His children. We simply begin praying by telling God that we love and adore Him because He is our spiritual Father and we have chosen to love Him.
Take the Lord’s Prayer, for instance. It starts out by saying, “Our Father, who art in Heaven – hallowed be Thy name.” We begin by stating that He is revered above all, hallowed, and our God.
‘C’ stands for Confession.
When we declare the holiness of God, we must then confess our sinfulness. Even though He knows how sinful we are, we still acknowledge it in prayer. This solidifies it in our minds that we are sinful, and that we do need God. We simply confess that we are sinners, and that ask His loving forgiveness for sinning against Him.