Writing about prayer can often be a quick and easy way to stir guilt. Personally, I want to pray more. But while I am making small strides in the right direction, there still seems to be a big gap between my desire and my practice. Maybe you can relate?
It’s not easy to explain how prayer works, but it’s hard to argue with the necessity prayer. There is a mystery to prayer, and there is also power in prayer. Through prayer we draw near to God, we are transformed through prayer and our prayers have an impact. Sometimes we see that impact, and sometimes we don’t.
Prayer isn’t like stretching is to running. Prayer isn’t a warm-up for the real work of doing ministry. As Oswald Chambers writes, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works, prayer is the greater work.”“Prayer does not equip us for greater works, prayer is the greater work.” -Oswald Chambers Click To Tweet
Too often I underestimate prayer. Sometimes my prayers are a few rushed words to start or finish a meeting or begin a meal. A lot of my prayers end up being about my needs, wants and longing for safety. Sometimes when a conversation seems exhausted, I finally suggest, “Why don’t we just pray?” This approach of “just pray” seems to put prayer in the “I guess it can’t hurt” category.
Despite my own shortcomings around prayer, I was recently stunned while reading Alpha Canada’s new study entitled, “The Priority and Practice of Evangelism.” This unique research is worth a good read, though the results are not particularly surprising nor encouraging. What stunned me, however, was the finding that only 55% of church leaders agree that prayer is central to evangelism.
Sometimes I can get lost in statistics, but my takeaway was that 45% of church leaders don’t see prayer as central to evangelism. How can this be? It’s one thing to admit you don’t pray enough, it’s another thing entirely to not see prayer as foundational and central to evangelism.
My hunch is that there’s a correlation between not seeing the centrality of prayer and not seeing people following after Jesus. I trust God is still about His business of drawing people to Himself, but we are called to pray and to mobilize others to pray. If we are to see revival in the Church and spiritual awakening in our land, I wholeheartedly believe prayer needs to be central to our lives, churches and ministries.If we are to see revival in the Church and spiritual awakening in our land, I wholeheartedly believe prayer needs to be central to our lives, churches and ministries. Click To Tweet
We have a great responsibility and privilege to pray. I am seeking to stop saying “just” before “pray”. I am endeavoring to pray bigger prayers—prayers for people, groups and nations that seem far from following Jesus and prayers for revival in the Church and spiritual awakening in our land.
May we follow Paul’s challenge to the Colossians, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should” (Colossians 4:2-4).
Cheering you on live and Lead Different!
Dr. Steve A. Brown
President, Arrow Leadership
P.S. Looking for practical tips to turn up the temperature on prayer? This post will give you ten ideas to get you started! Click here to read