Today the banner or cross of Christ is honoured in what is called Christianity, by more people on planet earth than at any other time in history; more than one billion. As the church  has  moved  from  the  caves  to  the  cathedrals,   she  has  amassed  fortunes,  build elaborate  places  for  her  members  to  gather  for  entertainment  and  the  promotion  of programs and doctrines squeezed from selected Bible verses. She sings “Oh how I love Jesus”, the servant of all, with a silver and gold cross, with inlaid diamonds, around her neck. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” has taken wings and soared to the skies in a Lear Jet bound, not for a cabin or leper colony, but a mansion on a hilltop or a Pent House. As  the  war  for  souls  wages,  and  as  the  enemy,  Satan,  seems  to  be  gaining  ground; soldiers  of  Christ  have  abandoned  the  battleship  and  taken  up  passage  on  the  cruise ship.  Instead  of  hungering  and  thirsting  after  righteousness,  she  is  burping  from  an over-indulgence of the delicacies of the world. Her mantra has survived from a rebuked ancestor,  who  dared  to  say  when  rebuked  by  Jesus,  “We  have  need  of  nothing.”  Nail scarred hands have been replaced by manicured handstand stainless gloves; instead of serving hands that wash dirty feet, they are waiting to be served.

Instead of killing the fatted calf to celebrate the prodigals return home to his father; the fatted calf has been reserved to celebrate the meeting of a budget or some other self-imposed goal. As the old farmer said, “We ain't doing what that Bible teaches.”

A movement inherited from ancestors, we claim,in the first century who conquered the world or her knees with the spread of the gospel (cf. Colossians 1:23), is now being conquered by members who are on pews who rarely pray. Indifference is draining her power. A church without power can’t win a spiritual battle As the church limps or rides her power scooter deeper into the 21 st century she has a number of obvious needs; that if not met may well lead to lights out and locked doors, as she is lowered in her casket in the graveyard of dead congregations. She needs a wake up call. She needs to hear and proclaim the gospel, which is the only power that can save a lost person (cf. Romans 1:14-17). Sin needs to be presented not as a social malfunction or disease, but as a cancer of the soul that keeps  people out of heaven. Hell needs to be presented as hot and eternity long; and once there it is final—all hope is left behind. The church needs to leave “Broadway” for the “straight and narrow way”. 

The church needs leaders, at all levels, who have fire in their bones for God and His word (Jeremiah 20:9). Business meetings need to be  turned into prayer meetings. She needs  to  quit  arguing  about  the  size,  color  and  placement  of  deck  chairs  while  the Titanic  sinks;  she  needs  to  throw  out  the  lifeline.  She  needs  to  quit  training  soldiers how  to  manage  the  fort  and  train  them  for  spiritual warfare  out  in  the  world  (cf.  2 Timothy 2:1-3; 1 John 5:19). 

The  church  needs  to  be  driven  not  by  slick  adds  from  Wall  Street,  but  by  the mandates of the Holy Spirit contained in the Bible; God’s inspired word (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-17). It is people who Jesus died for (cf. Matthew 26:28), not programs or agendas created  by  some  marketing  expert.  Christ  left  heaven,  not  to  be  served,  but  to  serve (Mark 10:45).

Perhaps more than anything else the church needs to restore her prayer power. The prayer  power  that  moved  the  first  century  Christians  to  boldly  take  the  gospel  to  a hostile  world  (Acts  4:11-13).  Our  spiritual  ancestors  didn’t  tack  on  a  few  minutes  of prayer, as we are prone to do in our tight schedules. Prayer wasn’t a token exercise or part of a prescribed time-line in their services. In one of our favourite passages, Acts 2:42, we read, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer.” They CONTINUED!  It wasn’t a rare thing. A reading of Acts reveals prayer is mentioned in one way or another approximately 30 times. To say prayer is a Bible subject would be an understatement. Prayer is mentioned in one way or another approximately 650 times in the Bible. Prayer is demonstrated more than  200  times  in  the  Bible.  When  did  prayer  become a  neglected  subject  relative  to obeying  Paul’s  command  to  “Pray  without  ceasing”?  Whatever  happened  to  Midweek Prayer Services? They are now a footnote in church history.

Can you imagine what would happen if the sermon was reduced to five or ten minutes in the Sunday morning and Sunday night services? What would the reaction be if prayer was  given  30  to  45  minutes  in  the  services.  It  is  interesting  that  we  have  mega commands and examples of prayer and only a few related to preaching. No, I am not suggestions that we give less time to preaching; just more time to prayer.

What if we stopped our “deep theological” discussions about the “real meaning” of 1 Thessalonians  5;17—“Don’t  stop  praying”—and  actually  made  it  a  pattern  of  our  lives; what do you suppose would happen?

Where do we start? Perhaps the place to begin  is with that familiar passage in Luke 11:1: “Now it came to pass, as he was praying in a  certain place, when He ceased, that one  of  His  disciples  said  to  Him,  ‘Lord,  teach  us  to  pray,  as  John  also  taught  his disciples”.  We  need  to  be  taught  how  to  pray!  We  need  to  study  prayer  and  practice prayer  in  the  church  meetings  and  in  our  homes  and  personal  lives.  Prayer  is  a demonstration of our faith, character, and trust in God. It is our response of love to His love toward us.

We  need  to  intentionally  examine  our  present  emphasis  on  prayer.  Since  the  Bible has so much to say about it, we, too, need to be saying a lot about it, but more than that; we need to be practicing it more. Let’s pray! Not, “Shall we pray?” which someone may say no to, but “Let’s pray!”

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J.J. Turner is the author of Prayers To The Father Never Go Unanswered. Order from my website: Amazon tab.

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