“Are we a praying church?” That’s the question that needs to be asked by every church. Of course, every church wants to answer “yes” to that question but…
Growing up in the Churches of Christ, I can remember having congregational singings, area-wide singings, gospel (revival) meetings, Bible studies…but never any prayer meetings. In my experience as a preacher/minister with Churches of Christ, with a few exceptions, it has been like pulling teeth to get the church to gather to do nothing else but pray together and pray for each other. I can get a lot of church members to come out for a praise and worship service or for a fellowship gathering such as a BBQ but suggest that we get together for the express purpose of prayer…that doesn’t happen easily.
Now that is ironic because as heirs of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, we in the Churches of Christ have claimed to be patterned after the church we read about in scripture. Yet the church we read about in scripture was a church in which prayer was one of their four main practices (Acts 2:42). In fact, prayer was such a way of life for the church that when faced with threats the church automatically responded by raising “their voices together in prayer to God” (Acts 4:24). So it seems that when it comes to prayer, there’s still some restoration left undone.
I’m not trying to dog on my church tribe. Every tribe and every church within that tribe has its strengths and weaknesses. What I am trying to do is raise the awareness of the need for Christians to spend more time praying together. In yesterday’s post (you can read it here), Francis-Xavier Sosu concluded his comment saying, “[The] power of the Holy Spirit only comes through prayers. So a Prayerful Church is a Powerful Church because it is a Spirit-filled Church.” He is right. That’s what happened in Acts when the church prayed for boldness in the face of threats. “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
So as we hear more reports about the decline of Christianity in North America, which is also true of Churches of Christ, will we give more attention to praying together as a church?
Let me also throw another question on us. In most Churches of Christ, the Sunday morning gathering begins with Sunday School and then is followed with worship. What mighty things might happen by the power of the Holy Spirit if all of the adults stop their Bible study (we can do away with one Bible study) and instead spent the hour just praying for what would transpire in the assembly, for the people (members and visitors) who will be their, for the worship leader(s) and preacher, for the communion to speak as a living story that we are part of, for the Holy Spirit to be at work, and so on?
What if we became a praying church?