Summary: It is important for the church to pray together. It is important for the church to seek the face of God.
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."