“It is in fact the most normal thing in the common Christian life
to pray together.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Over 99 Billion Sold.” That’s the number on the sign that you’ll see in front of McDonald’s. That’s been McDonald’s line since April 1994, when it stopped updating the number. McDonald’s won’t comment on whether it still tracks the number of burgers sold. Confession is good for the soul so I’ll admit I periodically go to McDonald’s, usually for the free WiFi. While I like their sausage biscuit with egg, there’s not much else that I want there.
Now if you called me up and said, “Scott, would you like to meet for dinner at Texas Roadhouse?” I’d start salivating at the mere mention of the name. I love steak! Jane scored wife of the year again when we had steak on New Year’s Day. What a way to kick off the year!
When it comes to prayer, most of us settle for McDonald’s. I know that I do. Yet, read the pages of the New Testament and you will quickly discover that the early church was committed to prayer. One of the most dominant features of the New Testament church was that they prayed.
After the ascension of Jesus, His followers were left in Jerusalem without Jesus’ physical presence, yet, they’d never been so intimately in His presence because they prayed. When the disciples selected the replacement for Judas, they prayed. Following Peter’s sermon on Pentecost that resulted in so many new believers, those new Christians were instructed in key spiritual growth tools and among those was the necessity of prayer.
Prayer was such a part of their lives that they took time out each day to spend time in prayer together. Prayer was so important to the apostles that they chose other believers to administer the caring of the physical needs of the widows, so that they could spend extended periods of time in prayer.
Do you see the importance? Prayer wasn’t tacked on at the end of a service or a drive-thru window part of their lives. It was their life-breath. That’s because prayer is to be primary for the child of God and the church.
If we want to see our church Spirit-empowered, we must pray. God acts in response to our prayers. If you and I want our lives to count and for what we do to have eternal significance, we must be people of prayer.
It’s noteworthy that the early church didn’t pray for the things we usually pray for. They rarely prayed for healing or safety – though those are important. They instead focused on spiritual health and spiritual safety. Their prayer lives were focused on the eternal, not the temporal.
My son, Aaron, and his wife are in Taiwan. If you’re tracking the news, you know that portion of the world is heating up. I hope that they’re safe. Yet, I’m much more concerned that they are spiritually safe. Nearly every day I pray that they will draw closer to the Lord and to each other.
Jesus’ last words to us were to command us to reach our world. Eternity hangs in the balance. Scripture tells us that God wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). So, is part of our regular prayer life praying for family and friends to come to Christ? What about our neighbors? Can we really say that we love or care about someone if we’re not concerned enough to pray about their eternal destiny?
We are family! Do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we praying for their soul health? Often we know where another fellow-believer struggles. Do we pray for them, that they’ll have victory?
In a culture that values self-sufficiency, prayer reminds us that we need God. We have so little under control. Anything that we think that we have under control, we don’t. The essence of prayer then is to join God, not God joining us. We need to be in our Bibles so that we will pray for what’s on God’s heart rather than telling God what is on our hearts.
Prayer is the lifeline that saves the drowning soul. It’s the umbilical cord that provides nourishment to the starving spirit.
Augustine, the early church father described prayer to a man in a hapless boat who throws a rope at a rock. The rock provides the needed security and stability, and even life for the helpless man. When the rock is lassoed, it’s not the man pulling the rock to the boat; it’s the pulling of the boat to the rock. Jesus is our Rock. We throw the rope to Him through prayer.
If we do pray, our prayer lives are often anemic because our focus is on ourselves, our needs, concerns, comforts, wishes and wants, than on God. If we want God to answer our prayers and desire His will, then God must become central in our prayers and in our prayer times together.
Our Heavenly Father is preparing us for eternity. He is building character within us that will last forever. He’s most concerned about our character and motives. The unique trials each of us face on earth are designed by our loving Heavenly Father. They’re not some mistake or bad luck. God uses them to bring about spiritual and eternal fruit in our lives.
Prayer helps us be aware that God sees everything in an eternal context. Our world wants everything now and is driven by immediate gratification. That muddies our thinking so we focus on the temporal when we must focus on the real world of the eternal. When we lose the meaning of eternity and fail to see life from an eternal perspective, we lose everything important from God’s point of view. To apprehend eternity in this life is not only to anticipate a future enjoyment, but it’s also to appropriate a present reality. We must pray, yet we must learn to pray in the context of eternity.
Currently, we have a scheduled prayer meeting each Tuesday night at 6:15 pm. We’d love to have you come. Yet, you don’t need our church to schedule or organize praying together (though we’d love to help). If there is a better time or place, please initiate getting others together to pray. Maybe it could happen once a month early on a Saturday morning. We’ll make the building available. Just let us know how we can help.
If we’re going to be spiritually healthy, if our church is going to grow spiritually, prayer must be a consistent part of our spiritual diet.
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.