Unfortunately this omission is not present only among the theologically hollow evangelical mainstream, but most of the theologically sound, biblically faithful segment as well. A great many authors I have great respect for simply do not make a priority of prayer in their books on healthy churches, church growth, and spiritual revival. Undoubtedly they would never deny the importance of prayer. But when the rubber meets the road, it finds little priority in our writing or our preaching, much less our practice.
We have simply found our security in man, means, and methods for far too long. And even those who embrace a more God-centered theology still appear to make little of a prayer-saturated faith (comfort and ease, along with a misguided commitment to a host of responsibilities that really weren’t meant for elders, have probably produced this). New programs and resources are lauded as the necessary means to evangelistic fervor and effectiveness. I’m not against resources by any means, but if we think a better evange-cube or a new catchy outline is what we need to put our faith in to reach lost people, we need to ask ourselves whether we’ve actually read the Bible or not. The Bible, along with the church through the centuries, testify clearly that a praying church is a vibrant and powerful church.
I regret that I am as much a product of the church culture in which I live as so many others are. Even as I learn the significance of prayer to the mission of the church and the spiritual fervor of the believer, I find myself a resistant student, wrestling to make a priority of prayer in my daily life.
When one examines where the Holy Spirit is moving most powerfully in the world, they will discover that the church in these places is committed to faithful prayer. It is also probably worth acknowledging that typically a comfortable church isn’t a praying church. The suffering church is driven to its knees out of desperate need for supernatural intervention. This has surely caused us to approach prayer apathetically.
True, biblical, and sincere prayer is at its core, a declaration of inability and dependence. It recognizes, simply from the act itself, that only the powerful work of God’s Spirit can accomplish the kind of transformation that repentance and salvation brings. It resoundingly proclaims that we are desperate for God amidst our own insufficiencies.
The Bible is not ambiguous in what it calls us to do. We merely have to ask ourselves whether we are going to do what it says or not.
God forgive us, forgive me, for my stubbornness. Teach me to pray.