How Biblical Prayer Helps the Church to Stay on Mission
Thomas Bush @ Prayer Assist
Will God’s People Get on Mission With Him in Prayer? What does Jesus need to change?
Twice in Jesus’ ministry, He arrives at the temple and does not find it as he expected. (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46) Jesus said, “It is written, My House shall be a house of Prayer for all nations, but “you have made it” a “robbers den”. Jesus confronts activities in the temple with decisive action.
Jesus Expresses Zeal for His Father’s House
Jesus as Messiah expresses the zeal for His father’s house! The prophet Isaiah heralds the impact of Messiah: “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.” (Is. 59:17) Jesus was motivated to take action because of His zeal for His father’s house.
Jesus Teaches How Not to Pray
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He begins with: “Don’t pray like hypocrites (actors in a play) to be seen by others (Mt 6:5) and “Don’t pray like the gentiles (pagans), using empty phrases and meaningless repetition,” thinking you will be heard because of your “many words.” (Mt 6:7)
Jesus teaches what not to pray because of His passion for developing disciples with the proper focus on inner righteousness – having hearts right toward God rather that outward displays of righteousness focused on impressing others.
Changing the Culture of Prayer in the Church
You would agree with me that significant changes need to be made in prayer in the Church in America. How will these changes be made? Who will make them?
- Henry Blackaby says “Whenever God calls His people to Himself, He uses His leaders.”
- Rick Shepherd says “people don’t drift naturally toward prayer and evangelism.” We must call and lead people to prayer and spiritual activity.
Here is my contention: Leaders have the greatest opportunity to affect the culture of prayer and evangelism in their organizations.
Which leads to this question: What are [organizational] leaders doing with the opportunity/ platform they have to affect the culture of prayer and evangelism in the ministries they lead?
If we want to focus on scripture, here is what Acts 6:4 says in this area:
"But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the preaching ministry.” and our dear brother John Franklin has exegeted to mean - we will devote ourselves to the "ministry of prayer" and the "ministry of the word".
We would all agree that the ministry of the word has flourished while the ministry of prayer and leadership toward the ministry of prayer has waned.
Bringing Attention to Biblical Prayer
There has been so little focus on and implementation of Biblical prayer that our greatest minds and greatest activities have yet to be applied to “devoting ourselves” to the ministry of prayer. We don’t effectively know what it is and how it should be implemented.
We have prayer structures in place that are:
- Not specifically Biblical:(Need/disaster based rather than God-centered) that is the difference between seeking God’s hand (what he can give us) rather than seeking God’s face (who He is)
- Not strategic: Not implemented by leaders toward the goals of their organizations – so the praying lacks vision and the infusion of the leader’s desire to see God’s purposes advanced
- Not implemented by leaders: If praying is happening, it often has no connection with the goals, aspirations, desires of organizational leaders.
- This lack of leadership allows the praying that is taking place to follow the path of the person who it has been delegated to – which often is not focused on the greatest needs and opportunities of the organization
Here's the point… as we plan for moving forward with adding value to [our organization] related to prayer, I recommend that we keep this in mind: Most of the existing prayer structures need to be replaced with Biblical prayer.
Implementing Biblical Prayer
- We have to challenge God’s leaders to implement Biblical prayer. The Bible tells us what Biblical prayer looks like. The Church in America is “off mission” with Biblical prayer.
- An issue that we must address head on is – we don’t need more prayer “activity”, that is more minutes and hours of non-Biblical prayer – prayer that only occurs during disasters and focuses on needs and others who are not in the room (aunt Sally’s big toe, Uncle George’s puppy, etc.)
- We have to be honest with ourselves that when most people are invited to a prayer gathering, they wonder what the purpose or benefit is.
- True questions/objections:
- Couldn’t I just pray at home?
- How could I benefit or what could I learn or experience by going to a prayer gathering?
iii. As it relates to leaders: “The prayer in my organization is just like the prayer in other organizations. What could I learn or how would it benefit my organization for me to learn more or implement anything related to prayer/prayer ministry?”
Leaders Implementing Biblical Prayer
So while it may be important to include others in our prayer meetings / gatherings and to focus our praying on revival and spiritual awakening, this thinking leads to this question:
- How can we affect [organizational] leaders in such a way that they will take hold of the platform they have to affect the culture of prayer and evangelism in their organizations?
- What ideas, understanding, plans and actions does an [organizational] leader need have/ make in order to affect the culture of prayer and evangelism in their organizations that honors God and produces the greatest kingdom impact?
Praying Leaders Can Affect Leaders Like Themselves
One final strategic contention: Praying leaders have the greatest ability to influence leaders like themselves.
- [Prayer Team] leaders (if they are not [organizational leaders] themselves) have limited opportunity to significantly affect other [organizational leaders]
- If we want to see more “Pastors” praying, we need to find praying pastors and give them a platform to influence their fellow pastors.
- If we want to see more [regional leaders] praying, we need to find praying [regional leaders] nd give them a platform to influence their fellow [regional leaders]
- If we want to see more [national leaders] praying, we need to find praying [national leaders] and give them a platform to influence their fellow [national leaders], etc.
Our ongoing challenge to the Church through all ages is:
- Will we receive the loving rebuke of Christ to change or will we remain a “robbers den”.
- Will we have a zeal like Jesus for the Lord’s house?
- Will we choose not to pray like hypocrites “Don’t pray like the gentiles (pagans), using empty phrases and meaningless repetition,” thinking you will be heard because of your “many words.” (Mt 6:7)
- We do not have because we ask not. (James 4:2) Will we ask?
- We ask and do not receive because we ask with wrong motives, so that we may spend it on our pleasures motives so that we may spend it on our pleasures. (James 4:3)
- Will we pray all kinds of prayers for all men and those in authority? This is good and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
- What would you add to this list?
Lord, help us to repent and change so that you will be pleased and so that Your kingdom will increase. Start with me, Lord, and my family and my pastor, and church and my leaders and my nation….