The disciples often noted Jesus going off by Himself to pray (Mt. 26:36; Mk. 1:35, 14:32; Lk. 5:16). They were so impressed with His prayer life they asked Him to teach them how to do it (Lk. 11:1). The accounts of Jesus’ prayer time depict His absolute dedication to communicate with His Father as most of the time it was early in the morning before the busy-ness of the day started up. But He modeled prayer so beautifully it was an attribute the disciples later modeled to those under their spiritual care when they all came together (Acts 1:14). I don’t know about you, but the Lord has impressed upon me that churches across this country need to return to this kind of prayer. Church has become more about “worship teams”, impressive stages and graphics, programs with pithy and short overviews of Scripture, convenience and coffee bars, and never challenging those who physically come or view on-line to take a good hard look at the compromise they’ve made with the culture over adhering to God’s commands as He set forth in His Word. It’s no wonder that Christians are beginning to feel the heat of oppression when we’ve allowed God’s moral principles which our society was originally based on to be replaced by what pop culture and pop psychology has determined to be acceptable. “The Church” is sorely lacking dedication to prayer as those early believers in Acts were. Although it is an admirable thought relegating prayer to one special mid-week service, this does not encourage the corporate body of Christ to really “do it”. It is too easy to let the demands of everyday life get in the way of attending a mid-week prayer service. I may ruffle a lot of feathers by saying this, but a few less worship songs and more time in prayer on a Sunday morning are definitely needed in my opinion. How else are we going to hear God’s directions in this crazy world if we’re not in dialogue with Him as His body?
When we look across the Book of Acts we see that prayer was an integral part of everything the early believers did together. Acts 1:14 notes that our Christian forebears prayed “continually”. But this isn’t the only time Luke records their devotion to prayer (see Acts 2:42 and Acts 6:4). All in all, prayer is mentioned 30 times throughout the book and in a number of scenarios: Acts 3:1- Peter and John are going to the Temple during the hour of prayer; Acts 10- Cornelius a God-fearing Gentile is noted as a man of prayer and God hears him; Acts 12:5 tells the account of Peter being delivered from prison after the believers have gathered to pray for him; and Acts 16 records that a number of people have gathered by a river to pray when Paul shows up and presents the Gospel to them resulting in the conversion of Lydia. Prayer delivers a demon-possessed slave girl in that chapter as well.
I wonder what would happen if prayer became a predominant part of our worship services on Sunday morning. Would there be a greater sense of direction among all believers and denominations? Would pride and power strongholds within our congregations be broken so that spreading the Gospel becomes the most important task a church could take on rather than someone’s idea or position taking precedent over another’s? Would all believers in every branch of Christendom around the world be able to stand firm in cultures that are growing increasingly antagonistic toward them? Would they remain true to God’s Word and not compromise by blending into their culture instead? Would we see more people coming to Christ? Would missionaries be delivered from Third World prisons? Would people be transformed both physically and psychologically before our eyes? Would the anti-Christian climate of our culture change and improve? If the Book of Acts teaches us anything about the power of prayer, it teaches us that prayer can change the world. Are churches ready to change the way we pray? If so, then we are ready to change the world. (1 Thes. 5:17)
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre