Monday, March 26, 2012

A Church of Prayer

In the sermon I gave yesterday, "A Fork in the Road," I invited my church family to join me in a bit if a quest. A quest to see what God might do among us.  A quest to become a church defined by prayer.  While this does not make a church a church of prayer alone, a regular time of prayer is at the heart of this quest.  Sadly, most churches have abandoned weekly prayer meetings as a thing of the past, and no longer relevant.

For many, prayer meetings are boring.  Have a mid-week potluck and get a huge crowd.  Have a mid-week Bible study and get a decent crowd.  Have a mid-week outreach and get a few.  have a prayer meeting and you risk getting nobody to come out.  of course, we try all sorts of ways to change this.  Add more worship.  Have a longer message.  Have people pray shorter prayers.  But still, we at best resort to an hour of praying for neighbors', friends, co-workers, and endless people in varying degrees of aches and pains.  In the end, none of the prayers really directly impact those gathered for prayer.  This doesn't mean the needs should not be prayed for, but it does create an emotional distance.  Praying shorter prayers will not change that.

Another problem is that we view prayer meetings as a time when you wait for others to finish praying until it is your turn.  That is not what corporate prayer is about.  No wonder people get so bored!  In corporate prayer, I am to be actively listening to what the other people are praying and adding my agreement before the throne of God.  No matter who is praying out loud, we are all to be praying together.

This quest our church is about to begin is a quest to recapture what a weekly prayer meeting ought to be.  To see what god might do.  I have become fully convinced that this is the missing piece to most churches.  Churches can have solid Biblical preaching and still seem to have no life.  Churches can have great programs in place and still have no life.  Churches can be active in evangelism and still have no life.  But in my personal experience and what I am finding in example after example is that if a church has a vital prayer meeting, that church exhibits life.  And all those others things become an extension of the prayer life of the church.

So, the quest begins.  I will stop by here to share what the quest looks like and what God is doing.  I pray that each of us as individuals and all of our churches would be built on prayer.  And at the center of that, may the lost art of the weekly prayer meeting be found!

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