Summary: When our homes become prayer centers, they can become lighthouses to our communities.
Your House—A Lighthouse
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: We have been exploring the theme of prayer for the better part of year now. In ten months we have looked at some basic principles of prayer, considered an example or two from the Bible of powerful prayer, and dug deeply into the Lord’s Prayer. We have three or four more times on Sunday night to talk about this topic. My intention is that after the first of the year, we will step by step begin implementing what we have been talking about for a year. Not that we haven’t been implementing some of the Bible’s lessons on prayer! I am simply convinced that we have just begin to touch the hem of the garment. There is much more we have to discover and do.
Tonight I want to take a step in that direction by introducing to you a vision for one way of praying that can have a powerful impact on our community—and an even larger impact on this church and your own family. But let’s work our way toward that gradually.
First, a very basic challenge: One of the core values of this congregation has always been the restoration of New Testament Christianity, endeavoring to be and do as a church what Christ intended his church to be as described in the pages of the New Testament. That is, in part, why we practice baptism the way we do. That is how it was done in the pages of the New Testament. It is what Jesus intended. It is also why we observe the Lord’s Supper as often as we do. Very few non-Catholic churches partake of communion every Lord’s Day. We do so, we contend, because that is the example we find in the New Testament. That’s good! Restoring New Testament Christianity is a valid principle and a very good value to strive for as a congregation.
But why stop with baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or the importance of the elders and deacons in the church? What would happen if we also made it a high priority to restore the New Testament’s emphasis on prayer—prayer not as a last resort but as a first impulse? What would happen if developing praying believers in their walk of faith became as important to us as immersing believers at their profession of faith in Christ? What if we prayed together as much as we ate together? What if we had as many prayer meetings as committee meetings? What if the number one characteristic of every leader, Sunday School teacher, and worker in the church that we looked for was a vibrant speaking relationship with God? What if we absolutely expected prayer to be answered? And talked and acted as if seeing obvious answers, at least from time to time, was normal? And not seeing those answered prayers, at least from time to time, was a great tragedy? What if our plans and decisions were not limited to what we thought we could do, but what we could pray for? What if we planned and worked for dreams so large that we knew we would absolutely fall on our faces if God were not a part of it? If the plans were not prayer driven?
I know the problem that many of us have with prayer. We have been born and bred to believe that prayer is an easy way out. We say that real faith works. “Faith without works is dead” is the motto of many churches like ours. The truth is that faith without prayer is humanism. Works without prayer are sterile, lifeless, and drudgery. The faith that does the works of God must be a praying faith.
Prayer is not an easy way out. Quite to the contrary, many of us pray no more than we do because it is too hard. We give up quickly because we become weary and worn out. Our faith muscles are weak and not up to the rigors of praying. Don’t forget Jesus disciples who pledged their loyalties to him, who were ready to die for him when their faith was questioned on the night before the cross. They would do anything for the Master they insisted—except one thing. When asked to tarry in prayer in the Garden, they fell asleep. Most of us would do the same. Many a strong man or woman could do almost anything for an hour before they could simply prayer for an hour. Doubt me? Try it! Report the results. Tell us if is easy or hard to prayer.
In fact, human nature being what it is, prayer is one of the hardest things in the world to do. It requires a big faith, but a small ego. An ego so that small that it needs God and knows it. This is something we humans are slow to acknowledge. But once we discover the power of the God who beckons us to pray without ceasing, we find that life is much more fun when we make room for God.