Once upon a time, churches were build on prayer meetings. They were the foundation of the ministry. Churches couldn’t survive without it. People couldn’t survive without it.
There are times when a trip to the dentist may seem more desirable than prayer. When it comes time to pray, people look for anything else to do other than spend time seeking the heart of God. I strongly believe that there is nothing more important to do in church on a Sunday morning than to pray. We can spend time getting the kids ministry prepared. We can have all the media slides ready to go. The sound can be perfect. But if we haven’t prayed, what’s the use?
In Mark 11, Jesus came storming into the temple because prayer had taken a back seat to everything else that was going on.
He taught them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
Mark 11:17 (NLT)
While I’m pretty sure that most churches aren’t involved in the money changing the temple had turned to, are we robbing the church and ourselves by shifting our focus? Are we more concerned about programs drawing people in than we are about the Spirit of God drawing people in?
On of the greatest modern examples I’ve found of the power of effective prayer in a church is the story of Brooklyn Tabernacle that Pastor Jim Cymbala tells in his book Fresh Wind Fresh Fire. At a time when the best option would have been to walk away, they prayed. And then they prayed some more. They kept praying.
Many would be shocked to hear this, but God showed up. In a big way. It wasn’t their outstanding kids ministry that brought people to the church. It wasn’t bingo night in the hall or the bake sales to raise money for missions in China. It was prayer. A group of people so passionate about seeing God move in their city that they continually cried out to God until they saw Him move—and then they kept calling to see Him move more.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a part of a church that is known for powerful prayer than one that has a good youth program. All it takes is one person to start (hint: it doesn’t have to be the pastor).
Daily Bible reading: Deuteronomy 1-2, Mark 11:1-19