David Butts, the Chair of America’s National Prayer Committee, has asked Christians around our country to pray for prayer. While that may sound a bit peculiar or redundant, many Christians aren’t praying. Others pray only when it’s convenient within their busy schedules, or when they feel need to do so. This leads me to think that American Christians are frequently passing up opportunity after opportunity to bless God, fellow Christians, and a blessing God may have for them– simply because we’re not praying (either on our own, or with others). The call to pray for prayer is one where we ask the Holy Spirit to draw us closer to the heart of God, search His ways, and pray for Him to share specific ways He desires to accomplish His will on earth (as it is in Heaven).
I’m troubled that many Americans’ strong sense of individualism (a pervading attitude of “I can do/have it my way) has become a mode in the Church. For many years now, if a pastor or prayer leader calls a time of corporate prayer (where two or more are gathered in prayer in Jesus’ name), he may be fortunate to have 1-5% of his congregation attend. And very frequently, if the corporate prayer time is repeated weekly, or at some other regular interval, numbers tend to dwindle instead of increase. It seems that the report of Christians’ hope, expectation, and humility in prayer in the early chapters of Acts is but a faint story in the annals of time. Have we lost connection with God’s heart? Have we become so self-sufficient in our own minds that prayer has become dull and life-sapping instead of joyous, powerful, and life-giving? Have we become so self-absorbed that praying with others is no longer desirable?
In Matthew 6, and in other accounts in the gospels, Jesus demonstrates and models the importance of getting away from the demands of people and life to intimately draw near to God. If we are to grow intimate with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, we must also discipline ourselves to do so. However, as clearly noted in Acts, Jesus’ disciples and followers received great power and encouragement through prayer as they gathered together, regularly, to pray with and for one another. Great numbers were added to the Church frequently (daily)! People were healed of physical and emotional problems- and many were saved from eternal death. Jesus' disciples didn't exemplify do-it-yourself Christianity, they united in life, and eternity-changing prayer!
I’m encouraged to hear increasing reports of pockets of growing prayer around our state and nation. Recently, a friend shared that their church body had nearly as many people receive Christ on a Sunday morning, as they did on Easter Sunday (they were praying for salvations). Reports of thousands of people praying at state capitols for government leaders and upcoming elections are increasing in frequency. And small prayer groups are forming and growing in churches and in small church groups. It’s encouraging, and these aren’t dull, dry, prayer times. The Holy Spirit is stirring confession and repentance from past sins and sinful attitudes. Those praying and attending are witnessing a deepening work of God through His Word and Spirit personally in their lives, and in the lives of others as they pray together!
These aren’t just additional events on a calendar.
I encourage you to look for 1-2 opportunities to pray with 2 or more others within the next week or two. Join an established, life-giving, Holy Spirit prompted prayer group that prays specifically, and sees answers to their prayers. Your heart for prayer will grow, your desire to pray with others will increase, and your relationship with God through prayer will expand and deepen further.
Let’s set aside do-it-yourself Christianity, and prayerfully unify in God’s Word, Holy Spirit, and prayer to see our nation and its people make drastic turns towards Jesus Christ in our generation!