I got so busy talking about the healing service and the ecumenical service last week that I forgot to mention the last of the 6 purposes of the church! The sixth and final purpose is prayer--thus the prayer and healing service.
PRAYER SHOULD BE A PRIORITY FOR THE CHURCH BECAUSE…
Jesus was devoted to prayer. LUKE 6:12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. LUKE 5:16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. When He was busy and tired. MAT 14:23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
During His darkest hour, when He was about to be crucified, during His time of deepest need Jesus made time to pray. LUKE 22:39-46 Whenever Jesus did something or before He did something He prayed to God. Raising of Lazarus. John 11:41-ff.
How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed he prayed. When hard pressed by work he prayed. When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.
The early church was devoted to prayer. ACT 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. ACT 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The Leadership of the church was devoted to prayer also! ACT 6:4 "But we (Leaders of the church) will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." ROM 12:10-13 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Prayer is a way to show devotion to someone. 1TH 5:17 pray without ceasing; (Never stop!)
Prayer should be a priority because God hears us. ROM 8:26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 1PETER 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." JAMES 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Prayer is the channel from which blessings flow. MARK 11:24 "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. MAT 21:22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." JOHN 16:24 "Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that God has, is at the disposal of prayer.
Prayer is a way to express thanksgiving to God. It is probable that in most of us the spiritual life is impoverished and stunted because we give so little place to gratitude. It is more important to thank God for blessings received than to pray for them beforehand. For that forward-looking prayer, though right as an expression of dependence upon God, is still self-centered in part, at least, of its interest; there is something we hope to gain by our prayer. But the backward-looking act of thanksgiving is quite free from this. In itself it is quite selfless. Thus it is akin to love. All our love to God is in response to his love for us; it never starts on our side. "We love, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). -- William Temple. PHI 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 1TI 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.
We can have inner peace from prayer. HOPE. Notice that when things go bad, most people respond with prayer. PHI 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
PRAYER SHOULD BE A PRIORITY BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE NEED PRAYER.
People that we do not get a long with need our prayers. MAT 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. LUKE 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. You cannot hate those you pray for.
The sick need our prayers. Government and church leaders need our prayers. When Edward Everett Hale was chaplain of the U.S. Senate, someone asked him, "Do you pray for the senators, Dr. Hale?" He replied, "No, I look at the senators and pray for the country." ACTS 12:5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. HEB 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. PRAY FOR THEM. 1TI 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Other churches need our prayers. 2CO 9:13 Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Sometimes the spirit of jealousy and competition keeps us from praying for the other churches.
The lost need our prayers. ROM 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. Israel in the context. I believe that if we pray for those who are lost, we will make an even greater effort to reach them.
Prayer is an important function of the church. I do not how many times I have told a person who did not think they could do much for the church that they could have a prayer ministry. Usually the response is not very enthusiastic. Our failure to think of prayer as a privilege may be partly due to the fact that we can pray any time. The door to prayer is open so continuously that we fail to avail ourselves of an opportunity which is always there. If we tell someone to do something that seems hard or spectacular, we are more apt to do it than to do something as simple as prayer.
Like art, like music, like so many other disciplines, prayer can only be appreciated when you actually spend time in it. Spending time with the Master will elevate your thinking. The more you pray, the more will be revealed. You will understand. You will smile and nod your head as you identify with others who fight long battles and find great joy on their knees. When we don’t pray, it’s primarily because we don’t sense our need for God.
No one should be alone when he opposes Satan. The church and the ministry of the Word were instituted for this purpose, that hands may be joined together and one may help another. If the prayer of one doesn’t help, the prayer of another will. The final question is this, "Do you use prayer as a spare tire instead or your steering wheel?"