Minister's Message

“Getting Serious About Prayer” Part 2

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2).

     Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This week I’d like to continue our discussion on the topic, Getting Serious About Prayer. One of the surest and quickest ways to assess the spiritual maturity of an individual or congregation is to learn the time and attention given to prayer. I am not talking about articles, sermons, or classes on prayer, but the actual amount of time spent in prayer as individuals and as an entire congregation. When a man or woman or church is involved in massive amounts of prayer, the evidence of God’s grace is clear; depth, confidence; vision, sincerity, power, passion, and progress.

     On the other hand, when only lip service is given to this spiritual exercise and only puny amounts of time is spent praying, you have puny men and puny churches filled with problems, mediocrity and with little more power than a statue in the park. When the first century church was at the zenith of her spiritual power and success, it was because of great devotion to prayer. We must not make the fatal mistake of concentrating on the fruit of her labors only to the neglect of the root of her labors. Only one thing equaled her evangelistic fervor: prayer. Chapter after chapter, man after man, place after place, the first century church was engaged in prayer, more prayer, abundant prayer. Prayer was not simply an appendix to their spiritual life; it was the very heart and soul of it.

     The church as a whole—and especially the leadership—was fervent in prayer. This bare outline of the apostolic mission is simple and complete: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Read the record carefully and you will see that is exactly what the apostles did. When they were not engaged in preaching, they were engaged in prayer—before the great outpouring at Pentecost (Acts 1:14); before the choosing of Matthias (Acts 1:24); before a miracle near the temple (Acts 3:1); after being threatened by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:24); before laying hand on the seven (Acts 6:6); so the Samaritans could receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15); before raising Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:40)—and on it goes.

     Sometimes the apostles prayed for no other reason than to simply be in prayer. For instance, Peter and John went to the temple at the hour of prayer and Peter went atop the roof of Simon the Tanner at noon to pray (Acts 10:9). Other accounts of the apostles praying are so incidental that we could easily overlook their significance such as these two in Philippi: “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made…” and “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer…” (Acts 16:13, 16).

     The point is this: if the 21st century church is to excel in spiritual growth and is to make a lasting impact on the world as the first century church did, the first step we must take is to spend a lot of time in prayer. Over and over, by admonition and example, the Bible makes this certain: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). “… Continuing instant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18).

     Are we too busy to carve out a large amount of time from our schedules for prayer? For all practical purposes Daniel ran the entire Persian kingdom, and yet he knew how vital it was to get down on his knees three times a day. Are we too tired? So was the Son of god, and yet on more than one occasion, scripture records: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed (Mark 1:35). Are we constantly interrupted? Christ’s ministry was built around interruptions. The people would not leave Him alone, but He still made time to focus on prayer.

     Anyone who has been a Christian for even a short time knows how difficult it can be to have a consistent, quantitative, and qualitative prayer life. Simply wanting it is not enough though. We must act on a firm resolution. We must make time, not just take time. We must get serious about this business of prayer. Remember our Mission and Vision statement here at the University Church of Christ. We are “A New Testament church seeking to evangelize, starting with the central core of Greater Cleveland. We will use our unique gifts and opportunities to engage with the community to bring souls to Jesus, develop and equip them for a 21st century ministry.” And always remember that God loves you, Jesus died for you, I love you, and I am your servant for Jesus’ sake!

                                                                                   Yours because of Calvary,

 

                                                                                    Terrance R. McClain, PhD Minister

    

 
  May 2020  
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