The greatest action we can take in any situation is to pray. Yet, it is often the last action we take. Should prayer not be the first choice we make? Why should it take a bad diagnosis, a major business loss or a big problem to move prayer up on our daily action plan?
I believe now is the time to bring prayer back into every fabric of our personal lives and into the worship services of our churches.
When We Pray
In our independent world, we must refuse to declare independence from God. Dependence on God is essential for our very survival. Consider these thoughts on prayer and its importance in our lives:
1. Prayer is dependence
When we pray, we are depending on God. When we do not pray, we are depending on ourselves.
Therefore, pray. Talk to God daily. Talk to God throughout the day. Carry on a continual communion with God.
Talking to yourself may make you feel better, but only God can help you through your life. Talking to others may provide some counsel, but Jesus will counsel you, coach you, and be your constant through your life. The Bible calls Him the “Wonderful Counselor.”
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2. Prayer is faith
When you pray, you are declaring absolute dependence on the Lord! Therefore, pray whenever you need to exercise any level of faith, because prayer is faith. When you pray rightly, you are trusting in the Lord completely.
In fact, faith is built up greatly when we pray with and for one another. I regularly pray with and for others. My ongoing daily prayer list is continually changing. Prayer builds faith in my life. It creates expectancy for God to move in the situation.
3. Prayer is action
When you start your day with God, you are taking action upon your day. When you pray anywhere about anything, you are taking action.
Oftentimes, we take matters in our own hands. Our impulsiveness or impatience shows we are depending on ourselves and not upon God. Please remember: Prayer is not inaction; prayer is your greatest action.
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Let me reiterate: The greatest action you can take is prayer. This does not eliminate other actions. If a person needs a job, we do not simply pray for a job, we also take the action of trying to find a job. But prayer is a matter of priority and prominence in your life.
Now is the Time to Bring Prayer Back into Our Churches
Christians want prayer back in the schools; however, we ought to first bring it back into the worship services of our churches! Most churches spend more time in their worship services promoting the ministries of the church than praying. Jesus wants His church to be a house of prayer for all the nations!
When is the last time you experienced an entire Sunday morning worship service dedicated to prayer? Has this ever occurred? Has prayer received more than a small focus in any worship service you have attended recently?
If not, why? If we are not filling God’s churches with passionate prayers that are focused with purpose, what are we filling our worship services with? Could it be that we are not seeing that our greatest need is for the power of God to intervene in our lives, our church and our nation? Could it be that we do not connect the deep need for prayer with the church’s greatest mission—to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations?
Four Characteristics of Prayer Services
Some churches are committing entire worship services to the ministry of prayer. Four characteristics build an effective prayer service:
Each prayer time needs to be based on a teaching time from God’s Word. We stand on His Word, not on our words or passions.
Each prayer time should be focused on principles like repentance, revival, surrender to the Lordship of Christ and the filling of the Spirit, spiritual awakening, and reaching the world for Christ, beginning in your own community.
3. Led by the Spirit
Worship and prayer moments should be led as God’s Spirit leads, not necessarily according to the order of service.
Hymns and worship songs are given to us to express our worship of Jesus Christ as our Lord. These can be powerful expressions as transition moments, moving from one prayer time to the other.
What could happen in your church if an entire Sunday morning service was turned into a prayer service? You could experience God moving in ways unlike you have seen in a long time, perhaps ever. People could come to Christ. Personal repentance could result in a releasing of the Spirit upon your church, unleashing the church to greater worship and ministry.
Here is what I know: If we do not plan to pray, we will not pray!
It is past time for us to prioritize prayer, both personally and in the church. For far too long, we have seen what we can do; it is time for us to see what God can do. This can only happen when we pray.
Acts 4:31 says, “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.” ©2016 Ronnie Floyd
Ronnie Floyd is the pastor of Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas. He is also president of the Southern Baptist Convention.