Jesus said “My house shall be called a house of prayer (Matthew 21:13). Unfortunately, in many churches the practice of fervent prayer lands low on the priority pole. Our churches might be called houses of praise or houses of preaching, but where is the foundational component of prayer? Some churches have a reputation for the quality of their presentation with lively music and an inspiring message which is all good, but it can easily become more anthropocentric (man centered) than Christocentric (Christ-centered). The focus can be more on how we feel than on how God feels. More self serving than missional. More about personal edification than global outreach. The heart of prayer is worship and the edge of prayer is mission. Jesus’ statement on the house of prayer is a quote from Isaiah 56:7 which says “My house will be called a house of prayer FOR ALL NATIONS.
The church was birthed in prayer (see the Book of Acts) and the church will only flourish with concentrated and consecrated prayer. Without the presence and the blessing of God the church becomes little more than a nice (and sometimes not so nice) social club. In 1906, the modern Pentecostal movement exploded into the world. It began with a humble home prayer meeting in Los Angeles. Pentecostals should be known as people of prayer. We usually sprinkle a couple of short prayers into our orders of service (and I’m not promoting long prayers in a Sunday service) but the prayer meeting is typically the lowest attended meeting of the week. Where is the prayer room that is filled with people crying out to the Lord? Praying churches are composed of praying people. Public ministries are built by private prayer.
Healthy prayer does not begin with our needs but with God’s glory. Consider the Lord’s prayer for example
(Matthew 6: 8-10). It begins by exalting God. Only six words in the whole prayer are about our needs. “Give us today our daily bread”. Now God delights in supplying our needs and He invites us to make our requests known to Him, but noble prayer is primarily concerned about God’s will, God’s Kingdom and God’s glory. Read the prayer of Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 20) or the prayers of the Apostle Paul and notice their emphasis. Presenting our needs to God is the privilege of prayer, but not the core of it! Our prayers often fixate upon God giving us something pleasant or upon God sparing us, or rescuing us, from something unpleasant, but communion with God is more than pushing our wish list into a cosmic vending machine; it is enjoying fellowship with a loving heavenly Father. It is more about getting God’s will done on earth than about getting our wish done in Heaven. Saying a prayer is easy, entering into the labour of prayer is hard.
It is not my purpose to condemn or criticize anyone. Most of us (me too) can probably confess that we could improve in this area. I just want to challenge you and encourage you to give prayer the priority that Jesus and the Bible gives it. Since accepting this position as District Prayer Co-ordinator (along with my praying wife) I have become increasingly aware of the need for concerted prayer. In August Pat and I are moving back to Ontario and therefore have to leave this position. It has always been a joy and a pleasure to serve in this great District, so thank you for the privilege. God bless you.