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The Church Is Prayer-Conditioned
Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
The church today is often at the center of controversy—from within and without. The far right has its agenda, but it isn’t always right. The far left’s agenda causes it to sometimes be left out of the mainstream. Lawsuits against churches run from those bordering on frivolous (zoning controversies) to more serious charges like those against clergy who have molested children.
We are told in the Bible that this kind of divisive behavior will increase so that brothers will be against brothers, fathers against sons, wives against husbands. Not only is the controversy from outside the church, it takes place right within its walls. That is one reason there are so many different denominations. When people agree to disagree, the easiest thing to do is leave and form a congregation more to their liking.
Why does this happen? Why do people allow their differences to separate them from the true purpose of the church—to worship God?
I see one glaring reason: the lack of prayer in the church. So many ministers are what some call “current-events” ministers. They do not preach from the Bible, and speak instead about issues of the day on which they have an opinion. In the process, they do not bathe their ministry in prayer.
That is not about worship; it is leaning on a political agenda instead. That is not what God had in mind when He laid out plans for the early church in the book of Acts and throughout the epistles.
Without prayer, a church’s foundation is laid in sand, and it will topple and crumble as easily as Saddam Hussein’s statue did in the Iraq war or as easily as a sand castle, no matter how carefully it was engineered. The church will go over a cliff just like many sheep do when they are all running in the same direction. The leader of the church will do all he can to stop them, but they will run on without him to their death.
There is a way to do a U-turn in all of this. Pray without ceasing! Here are some crucial words from Paul the Apostle: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
Is that hard to understand? I’ve told my students that when they lose their way in their studies to go back to the basics. What is the basic foundation of your math problem? What is the basic idea behind a sentence structure? What is the basic thought about this culture? The basics! Stick with them and you’ll figure it out.
The basics of a church’s survival are prayer and more prayer. It is using prayer to seek God’s will. It is using prayer to plan for the next revival. It is using prayer to withstand the enemy, who wants your church to fail.
Two things should be happening within a church to make it a growing viable church: The minister needs to be preaching from the Bible, and there has to be powerful prayer support from within.
Having the church prayer-conditioned will make for cool summers and provide for lots of spiritual growth.
I have attended several churches over the years. I didn’t stay for much more than one sermon in those that weren’t built on the proper foundation—Bible preaching and prayer. They refuse to let God run the show and eventually find themselves with declining attendance. They didn’t realize they were worshipping in God’s house, not their own house.
Check out the foundation of your church. Is it prayer-conditioned? Does it have the Bible as its guide? Or do you hear about the latest best-selling book or about why gays shouldn’t be allowed to be part of the church? These issues are about opinions and have no place in the pulpit. Church is where we come to worship God. End of story!
Try to put God first in your church, and it will be as solid as a rock.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
We sometime take prayer for granted. We say, “Help me through the day Lord.” But do we really think about what we even said. You walk out the door and go to work, and ask God to help you through the day. That is way too broad of a request. There are hundreds of things that could happen in one day.
We do this in the church too. We pray for the sick of the church. We pray that the members will donate more money. Those prayers are also too vast to let God know your specific needs. When we pray for the sick, we need to name individuals and hold them up to God. When we pray for more giving, we should point out specific projects that we are working on. Yes, it takes a lot longer, and you think God will know all of the sick, and all of the needs of the church, but He listens to earnest, sincere, and concentrated prayers with a deeper love and understanding.
Something to ponder
Isn’t it funny that if we trust God, we can build a foundation that will never fail?
(Excerpt from Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.) Chapter 21