We exist to encounter God.
PRAYER is essential and indispensable in determining God’s will for our individual and corporate life. Prayer is motivated by love. At its heart, a Christian’s relationship with Christ is a love relationship. An important factor in all love relationships is communication. Prayer is talking to God about His life in you and your life in Him.
Unfortunately, prayer is one of the most discussed and least practiced spiritual disciplines. Prayer is the most underused weapon in our spiritual arsenal.
Jesus provides us with the best example of how a Christian should pray in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus began his ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting. He ended His ministry by praying all night. Among His final words are the prayer, “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34). His disciples knew the quality of Jesus’ prayer life. Before He calls His disciples in Luke chapter five, Luke chapter four records that, “at day break Jesus went out to a solitary place” (Luke 4:42). Then we read in Luke chapter five that between Jesus’ healing a man with leprosy and His healing of a paralytic, and that despite “the news about Him spread[ing] all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses,” Jesus still made time to withdraw often “to [a] lonely place and pray” (Luke 5:15-16).
Before Jesus designates which twelve disciples would be Apostles He prayed all of one day and all of one night. Luke chapter six records that, “one of those days Jesus went out to a mountain side to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles (Luke 6:12-13).
And it is after this day and night of prayer that Jesus gives us the beatitudes. It is also at a time when Jesus is praying that Peter makes the famous confession of Christ as Messiah. Once, when Jesus was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “‘Who do the crowds say I am?’. . . Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God’” (Luke 9:18,20b). Eight days later Jesus went up on the mountain to pray and it was “as he was praying, the appearance of his face changed” (Luke 9:29) and he was transfigured. In Luke 11:1 we read, “‘One day Jesus was praying in a certain place,’ and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord teach us to pray. . . .’” So the context of the question, “Lord teach us to pray,” is…Lord we have noticed that every time you get through praying something happens — teach us how to pray!
Prayer is one of the six purposes of our church, and is foundational to everything we attempt to accomplish in and through Heritage. Unfortunately, in too many churches prayer has been relegated to a particular meeting of a particular group of members occasionally as needed. We believe that many pastors and church members alike would agree with Edward M. Bounds when he stated so eloquently:
There are preachers innumerable who can deliver masterful sermons after their order; but the effects are short-lived and do not enter as a factor at all into the regions of the spirit where the fearful war between God and Satan, heaven and hell, is being waged because they are not made powerfully militant and spiritually victorious by prayer. The preachers who gain mighty results for God are the men who have prevailed in their pleadings with God ere venturing to plead with men. The preachers who are the mightiest in their closets with God are the mightiest in their pulpits with men.
Our goal as Pastors at Church of the Vine is to become mighty in our closet so that the legacy of our service to God will increase and continue to bear fruit for the kingdom long after we have left the scene. Bounds challenges us today by reminding us that:
A desire for God which cannot break the chains of sleep is a weak thing and will do but little good for God after it has indulged itself fully. The desire for God that keeps so far behind the devil and the world at the beginning of the day will never catch up.
Bound’s words reveal the weakness so common in modern ministry today. We each need to be reminded that our God will give us the increase but first we must give ourselves to God.
There are several components to an effective prayer ministry. First, the church leadership must be devoted to prayer. Promoting prayer and leading in prayer are very different things. Every church needs to identify those in their membership who have the spiritual gift of intercessory prayer. Those who are identified should then be trained and organized into a prayer team. They should be given prayer requests and encouraged to pray. We need to pray for lost people to be saved by name. We need to pray for wisdom and spiritual protection of our leaders and missionaries. We need to pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to fall on ourselves, our church, other churches, our nation and world and usher in a great awakening.
We equip and encourage every member to have a daily quiet time in which they personally pray for the physical and spiritual needs of themselves and others. We believe that maintaining a personal private daily time of prayer is one of the greatest challenges Christians face in today’s busy society. We must all remember that the motivation for our praying is our love for Christ. We need to better prioritize our time.