In yesterday’s post Are We A Praying Church?, I raised the question of whether our churches are praying churches or not (you might also be interested in Tuesday’s post A Praying Church). When I speak of “churches” I mean the Churches of Christ which is the tribe I was raised in and continue to serve God in as a preacher/minister.
Between the comments on the blog and the comments on Facebook, most people do not believe that we our churches are praying churches…at least not in the way that we see the practice of prayer taking place in scripture and likely not with the same attention that prayer is given in many Pentecostal churches today. My intention is not to be hyper-critical here but because I share the same sentiments as the comments, something needs to be said. Why? Because prayer is that important. In fact, we are reminded of how important prayer is to the church’s mission in Acts. We read in Acts 4:31, “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.”
So how do we become a praying church? Well, assuming we agree that we’re not a praying church (at least not the way we should be) then the first step to change is just that…change…repentance. Let’s make a choice that we are going to change and become a praying church.
Having said that, I know that change is always easier said then done. So I would like to make a few suggestions.
- The leaders of the church (preacher/pastor, elders, etc…) must be committed to being a people of prayer. A former professor of mine says that no church will rise above it’s leaders. That is true and therefore if we hope for our churches to become people of prayer, then we, the leaders, must first be people of prayer.
- We need to be teaching people how to pray. Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and I still believe people, in the spiritual formation as disciples, need to be taught to pray and how to pray.
- Begin with a small group of people. Just as we hope that one small Bible-study group or fellowship group will multiply with leaders for each group, the same can happen for prayer groups.
- Create some prayer opportunities for the entire church to come together for the express purpose of praying. My hunch is that if the first three steps are happening then this fourth step will happen in time. My mistake in the past has been to begin with #1 and then automatically try #4 without doing to necessary cultivation work of #2 and #3 that spiritually forms believers into people of prayer.
Do you have any suggestions? If so, I would love to hear them as I am simply a learner trying to be more intentional about prayer and more intentional about leading my church, the Columbia Church of Christ, to be more of a praying church.