“Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
Not long ago, my wife and I attended the funeral of a distant in-law kind of relative. We enjoyed meeting friends and making new ones, and were blessed by the service. It was all great except for one thing.
Something big was missing.
Not a single prayer was uttered. Not the first one.
One wonders if the leaders remembered later and said something like, “Oh my–I forgot to pray.”
It would appear that a lot of people are forgetting to pray these days. We should find that extremely disturbing. And more than a little revealing.
I’ve been in worship services where the first prayer offered was midway through the service and just before the offering.
Nothing tells the tale on us more than the place we give to prayer, whether personally or in the worship services.
Our Lord said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer for all the nations….'” (Mark 11:17, quoting Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 ).
God wants prayer to take place when His people gather.
The fact that we could assemble and forget to pray says a hundred things about us, all of them bad.
–We are satisfied living in the flesh and not in the Spirit.
–We see no reason to call on the Father, whether for His presence and blessings, or for His wisdom and anointing. We are like the newly-shorn Samson who awakened and “did not know the Spirit had departed from him” (Judges 16:20). What could be more condemning than this?
–We do not hunger for His nearness, long for His comfort, ache for Him to convict the lost and draw them to Christ.
–We worship in the flesh, which means our singing, our preaching, everything, is according to man and not to God.
–Prayer for some of us is only perfunctory. Just going through the motions. Tipping our hats to the Almighty. And thus, prayer was nothing that made much difference.
I fear we have become like the worshipers of Malachi’s day who sniffed at the offerings and said, “What a weariness!” (Malachi 1:13).
God help us.
I challenge the pastors to restore prayer to a prominent place in the services…
–By preaching a series of sermons on prayer, but only after restoring prayer to a central place in our own lives.
–By planning ways to make prayer times more meaningful.
–By opening the area we refer to as the altar for people to come and pray early in the service as well as toward the end. And not rush them through it.
–By the occasional testimony or interview with members with something to share on this subject. Take care that it does not become a time for boasting or elevating themselves above the rest of the membership.
–By turning a room in the church into a Prayer Room. Visit churches that have a designated room set aside for prayer and see what they have done. Make it secure and safe, but comfortable and convenient.
–Designate a faithful person to become the Prayer Coordinator in your congregation, to keep the need and opportunities for prayer before the people.