Of all the qualities I desire for our church the one that is at the top of the list is prayer. We must be a prayerful church. All other characteristics that we usually associate with a good church are nothing if we aren’t prayerful.
It was R.A. Torrey who wrote, “I believe that the devil stands and looks at the church today and laughs in his sleeve, as he sees how its members depend on their own scheming powers of organization and skillfully devised machinery. “Ha, ha”” he laughs, “you may have your Boy Scouts, your costly church edifices, your multi-thousand-dollar church organ, your brilliant university-bred preachers, your high-priced choirs, your gifted sopranos, and altos and tenors and basses, your wonderful quartets, your immense men’s Bible classes, yes, and your Bible conferences, and your Bible institutes, and your special evangelistic services, all you please of them; it does not in the least trouble me, if you will only leave out of them the power of the Lord God Almighty sought and obtained by the earnest, persistent, believing prayer that will not take no for an answer.” As a church we are called to pray.
In Acts 12 and 13 we see the church at prayer. We are told that it is a difficult time, they are persecuted, James the apostle has been put to death by King Herod and Peter has been arrested. And then you read these pivotal words in 12:5, “Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” That’s the key. The church was at prayer and as you read the rest of the chapter you discover that all the authority of Rome was powerless before God’s praying church. King Herod is struck down, “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.” (12:24)
In Acts 13 we again see the church at prayer. This time it is the church in Antioch and we are told that in the midst of their worship the Holy Spirt says, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (13:2) We don’t know how the Holy Spirit spoke to the church. It may have been through one of the prophets, (13:1) or maybe he gave them an inward affirmation of what he wanted done. But it is plain that they received direction from the Holy Spirit. Clearly, it is through dependent prayer that we are not only able to stand against forces that oppose the Kingdom of God, but we are able to hear God speak to us.
What a privilege! What a joy! What a wonderful responsibility is given to each and every one us. We are called to pray. And what a great result when God’s people unite together in prayer! God’s word flourishes and God’s people are sent out on mission. O God make us a praying church.
In thanksgiving for you all,