Praying has seen a bit of a revival in many churches over the last few years. “Healing Prayer”, Prayer rooms set up in buildings for the sole purpose of Christian prayer, 24/7 Prayer Network, The Prayer Course … these are all the outcomes of Christians being struck again by the need and value of prayer (whether you agree with the outcomes or not).
However, if I can be honest, prayer at Calvary isn’t something that we do very well. Although we have put corporate prayer into our morning service, and emphasise prayer in our weekly Life Groups, these are often felt as “add-ons” and are quickly rushed through. Here’s a story about prayer that might inspire you:
Five men were entrapped in a deserted zinc mine in Salem, Kentucky, by falling rocks. They had nothing to eat. They were in utter darkness. One of the men could have saved himself had he not run back to warn the others.
When the entombed men discovered that they could not escape, they began to pray and sing. Their prayer and praise service lasted for fifty-three hours! Then they were rescued. Later one of the men testified, “We lay there from Friday morning till Sunday morning. We prayed “without ceasing.” When the rescuers reached us, we were still praying!”
When the men were brought up out of the mine, on the caps of each one were scrawled these words: “If we are dead when you find us, we are all saved!”
I want to let you know that we start monthly Prayer Meetings again. They will take place on a Sunday evening and will take place at one location each month, but the location will change each month. Here’s why I think it’s important for us to gather for the sole purpose of prayer:
1. It reminds us of the importance of prayer.
See, the difficulty these days is that prayer is not really that exciting … or .. it should be but isn’t. It’s not entertaining. It’s often not easy or convenient; it requires effort and work.
We give up so easily.
Isn’t this why Jesus told the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18, so that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.”? or … “Don’t give up because it’s hard”.
I suppose part of the difficulty is that we are accustomed to being served well with music and media and preaching. Honestly, we can just sit back and be served … but prayer requires that we turn the world off while we turn our hearts and minds on. This has been a real lesson for me again whilst going through the book of Exodus. God requires relationship over ritual. Relationship doesn’t come by default, we have to work at it.
The challenging thing is that since prayer is hard and important, we need to work for it as a priority. Jesus said in Matthew 21:3 that “My house shall be called a house of prayer”, so we should prioritize the commitment to pray together.
2. It unites us around God’s purposes.
We have no problem praying for our individual needs, wants, and desires do we? We pray pretty well when WE need something. Although it’s never wrong to pray (and we ought to pray for the things that we need) our prayer life should not be dominated by prayers for ourselves.
Our health and happiness isn’t the meaning of life.
When we are praying together we are reorientating our hearts and minds away from our selfishness and putting them onto others. This is really what it means to love one another – our hearts and minds are FOR others and we are working and praying for their good. So when we gather together we are emphasizing the spiritual over the physical, the corporate over the individual, and we are uniting our hearts around God’s purposes for his church.
3. It prepares us for God to act.
I say this regularly ….. if we don’t expect salvation and healing and God’s intervention in the lives of others we will not pray. if we don’t come with a sense of “God is working”, “God hears our prayers”, we will lose heart and give up. On the flip side however, if we do not pray for salvation and healing and God’s intervention in the lives of others we will not see it.
What makes the difference? Well, the difference between the two is our belief about God. Do we believe that God answers prayers?
When you read the book of Acts we see quite clearly that the early church believed that God is a listening God, a working God and a blessing God. Their lives were defined by prayer.
Friends, prayer changes things! Prayer is God’s ordained means by which He accomplishes His supernatural ends. Jesus reminded his disciples in Mark 9:29 that there are some things that can only be conquered by prayer.
So come out and join us on Sunday 27th October for the first in our monthly Prayer Meetings.