You know my attitude on prayer. I don’t care how much time you spend in prayer, it isn’t enough. We need to spend as much time in prayer as we can. And even that isn’t enough.
Over a century ago, there was a great teacher, and co-laborer with John Wesley. His name was Fletcher of Madeley. Because of the many years of strenuous work with Wesley, he became very ill. Someone who had gone to visit him wrote, “I went to see a man that had one foot in the grave; but I found a man that had one foot in heaven!” What a testimony! (By the way, follow that link I gave you. It will help you appreciate John Fletcher, as much as I do).
It is said that whenever he taught on such things as the Fullness of God’s Holy Spirit or on the power and blessing that believers should have in their lives, he spoke as someone who had experienced it, himself. But he would close the teaching by saying, “That is the theory; now will those who want the practice come along up to my room!” Again and again they closed their books and joined him in his room, where the hour’s theory would be followed by one or two hours of prayer! Wonderful!
But isn’t this what Paul exhorted in his letters? In his letter to Timothy he wrote, “I exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men.” This is the biggest responsibility of the Church. Before anything else, the Church is to be a praying church. He told the Philippians:
Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Yeshua. Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you (Philippians 4:6-9)
As believers we should never be anxious and worried about anything. Instead, we need to pray about everything. Nothing was too small to pray. Nothing was too great for our God to overcome. Nothing! If you are experiencing frustration, worry, fear, lack of peace, it is solely because you are not spending any time in prayer! And you can quote me, on that, if you want.
Paul put that same, all-essential admonition in his letter to the Church at Thessalonica,
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Yeshua that you do this.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
That’s right! The Church must give itself to unceasing prayer! There has never been a time when The Church was to stop praying. But it is so more necessary today! This was the will of God for His Church, and it is still His plan.
I don’t remember when it started, but for years, as I drove to church every Sunday morning, I would pray for the service; whoever was teaching; the people in the congregation. I would pray for the service itself, and the building we met in. I still do it. I can’t imagine going to church without praying.
Recently, a friend reminded of something from Richard Foster’s book, Sanctuary of the Soul. He sent it as a wonderful reminder of how important prayer is before gathering on Sundays:
Thomas Kelly notes that for a group to experience the Shekinah of God there needs to be some individuals who are already ‘gathered deep in the spirit of worship . . . In them, & from them, begins the work of worship. The spiritual devotion of a few persons…is needed to kindle the rest, to help those others who enter the service with tangled, harried, distraught thoughts to be melted & quieted & released & made pliant, ready for the work of God & His Real Presence”
So, tomorrow, before you gather together for worship, praise and teaching of the Word, begin to pray and intercede for the meeting. Pray for the Pastor and/or whoever is teaching. Pray for those gathering, so their hearts will be prepared to receive from the Lord. Then, invite the Spirit of God to join in the worship. To even teach those in attendance to worship the King of Glory. I assure you, that is certainly what the Holy Spirit loves to do! Release Him and allow Him free reign in the service. (And while you are at it, ask Him to prepare your heart! That is especially true if you are stressed over the kids in the backseat. Don’t let anything distract you from what you are called to do!)
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your generous gifts.
It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.