I want to share with you something that has been on my heart for a long time…
A while back I was chatting to a couple who had recently moved house and were looking to settle in a new church. They had attended one church for a while, but just weren’t quiet sure yet if it was the place the Lord was calling them. But as they were talking about the church, they made a comment that has stayed with me:
“But you’ve got to give it to them: they really are a praying church…
I couldn’t help but wonder if we would be accused of the same thing? If someone who came for a taste of what Bethel was like, could so easily recognise prayer as a strong ingredient of our life together?
It got me thinking about the Book of Acts – the early church – the radical adventures of discipleship and community and mission… and one thing you just cannot miss is that they most certainly were a praying church! The Book of Acts is saturated with times of prayer! The word “pray” alone features a staggeringly high 34 times in 28 chapters(!).
It was a church born in prayer:
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
It was a church built by prayer:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.
And it was a church that was bolstered by prayer:
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Prayerlessness: The Number One Growth Inhibitor
I’m somebody who finds it really helpful to write as a way to collect my thoughts and order them. I find they can be great moments of conversation between me and the Lord. It’s not for everyone, but it seems to work for me.
A couple of years ago I sat down and was trying to ask myself (and the Lord) a painful question: “Why aren’t we growing?”
As I sat and looked at that question – the number one reason suddenly seemed to be staring me right in the face: because we are not praying.
Maybe it was more of a personal reflection of where I was at the time – but as I shared the paper with other leaders, it seemed to resonate with them too: we have lots of services, lots of meetings, lots of planning sessions, lots of events… but actually precious little prayer.
If prayer is the birthplace of the things of God, if it builds His church and bolsters His people – should we really be surprised that activity that is not bathed in prayer will be ineffective and exhausting?
So, I’m going to start a new series of blogs on here simply called: “The Praying Church” looking at the way in which the early church bathed their mission and ministry (and indeed, their whole lives) in prayer. I want to set myself some prayer goals, and will be inviting you all to join me – but here’s a really one simple for starters. Are you ready?
The next time you meet up with someone from the church – pray together. That’s it. Simple. Maybe not easy… but simple.
Imagine if the next time we shared something with each other, rather of just promising to pray (and often forgetting to) – we actually prayed for each other, right then and there. If you’re in public and don’t want others to feel awkward – you don’t have to pray out loud, and even if you do, you can always keep your eyes open!
Imagine if at our next meeting (whether that’s a small group, or an MMT, or a planning session) rather than just opening and closing the time in prayer – we positively bathed it in prayer?
Imagine if every time we thought of someone to pray for, we stopped what we were doing, picked up the phone and rang them and offered to pray for them? Imagine how blessed they’d be – and imagine how blessed you’d be too!
Could you do that? Come on, let’s try it – and let me know how you get on!