As Christians, we know that we need to pray personally. In fact, we are told to pray “without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). In this post, I will not be addressing personal/individual prayer, but will focus instead upon how the church prays when it gathers.
When you gather with your church family to pray, what happens? What are the priorities? Who prays? What is the focus of the prayer?
The answers to these questions will certainly differ from local church to local church. However, I’m afraid that many times the prayers of the local church look something like this: It is the pastor who prays the most, especially at the Sunday morning service. On Wed. night, at “Prayer Meeting,” the body’s prayer requests mostly focus on the physical ailments of the membership. In general, when prayer happens, the priority is not the glory of God. The priority is not for the salvation of souls. Prayer also seems to lack expectation that God will act. These are generalizations, but they are accurate in many churches.
When we read the scriptures, what do we see? Three things stand out to me. First, we are given, by our Lord, clear evidence that prayer should focus first and foremost on the glory of God. In Matt. 6:9-13, commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus instructs us to begin praying for the glory of the name of God himself. Related to this, in
A second aspect of prayer we see in the bible is prayer for the lost to be saved. In Acts chapter two, we read about the early church in action. One of the characteristics of the church was prayer (2:42). A few verses later (2:47), we read that “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Later in the N.T., in
Third, when we look at the early church, we see a body of believers who prayed with an expectation that God would act. As an example,
What can we do to follow the biblical model today? How can we get away from the “organ recitals” (prayer primarily for God to heal our relatives’ ailing organs) that we hear on Wed. nights? I propose a few ideas, but would as always like your help.
- When we have the opportunity to pray in the local church, let’s follow the model Christ has given to us.
- If we teach, we must take time to instruct the body in how Jesus said to pray, how Jesus prayed, and what the remainder of scripture says about prayer.
- We must encourage the church to set aside regular times for lengthy prayer where all members are involved.
- We must pray for the magnification of the glory of God’s name.
- We must pray for lost souls to be saved by God.
- We must pray with expectation that God will act.
- We should teach and model that prayer is a foundation for the church. Apart from biblical prayer, not much will happen.
Church Reform Series:
Definition of Church