This article is not about bed sheets, although it somewhat is. It also isn’t entirely about our calendars although they play a role. This article is certainly about a love relationship and its entanglement with prayer – corporate and private – and our call to the adventure it promises.
My pastor husband has been calling prayer meetings at our little white church on a hill next to a peacock farm for the past month. A sanctuary with enough seats to fit 300 seems a bit hollow when only 7 fill the pews. A lovely family of God, 150 members whom I adore, and yet Wednesday evenings remind us that we are all American people with comfortable bed sheets and full calendars. Prayer, by the looks of it, doesn’t seem to be a priority.
Do I sound harsh, yet? Judgmental?
It’s by grace we’ve been saved.
Prayer can easily have ties to legalism. We see Jesus calling out the Pharisees and telling the early disciples, “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people” (Matthew 6:5).
But prayer is a duty and a privilege and we must be willing to find joy in both.
Could it be that people in American churches have forgotten the promises that result in the duality of prayer – duty, and privilege? If so, calendars and bed sheets will trump prayer every time. So rather than one more call to a prayer meeting, let’s recall the promises, then (ironically) let’s pray they stick.
The Unstoppable Promise
T.F. Torrance, quoted in the book, Prayer: A Biblical Perspective, “The prayers of the saints and the fire of God move the whole course of the world.”
Torrance’s words send our imaginations into a world of wonder. But it’s not a matter of the thrill of participating in the movement of the earth; it’s a Christian’s reality….when he or she prays.
End times reveal that it will be the prayers of the saints, used by God, to bring judgment on the earth.
“Another angel, with a golden incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne...the angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth” (Revelation 8:3-5).
When our churches rest on this unstoppable promise, they also become a wild force God will use to bring glory to his name.
The Dutiful Promise
Jesus led a very unpredictable life that fascinated the multitudes. With stories of walking on water, various healings and raising a man from the dead, he became a sort of celebrity. No one knew what might happen in a day while following Him.
But Jesus was very predictable in another sense. We continuously see Jesus get away to pray to his Father. In a cyclical routine of prayer, one could suggest prayer as the catalyst for Jesus’ next steps.
Furthermore, Jesus habitually led his disciples to a place of prayer. And even taught them corporate language to pray, “Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy” (Matthew 6:9).
“Our Father” reveals the duty we have in praying together, as well as the honor of replicating Jesus’ way of daily living.
When our churches recall the duty of prayer, they also step into the exact footsteps Christ taught his disciples to live.
The Multiplied Promise
In our post-Christian world, we see multitudes choosing various ways to heaven; we are watching masses find satisfaction in fleeting idols. Let this not stop us, believer, in praying for revival – a multiplied adventure. It is no more difficult for God to bring the dead to life 100 years, 500 years, nor 1,000 years ago, as it is today in modern-day America.
God tells us “the harvest is abundant, but the workers are few, therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out the workers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).
In our earnest prayers, God will be faithful to send out the workers. And furthermore, he promises that the harvest is plentiful. If your church feels, dry. Pray. If your spirit feels stale, pray. If your bones feel like dirt and in need of water, pray.
We have been given the task to ask God for more workers, more revived souls, a more fruitful harvest, more bodies brought back to life. The illusion of America as a dry desert is only a mirage made by human minds.
When our churches pray for multiplication, we see workers go from bone-dry to full of life, ready to reap what has been promised in the harvest.
Back to Bed Sheets
John Calvin says, “We ought to fight by our prayers and supplications,” so why do our churches struggle when it comes to a prayer meeting? Why do very few storm the gates of hell with the weapon of prayer?
Simple. Because our bone-dry world makes bed sheets look appealing. Our idol-factory making hearts choose full schedules and various other priorities. And our de-emphasis in the power we have in prayer has weakened God’s promises.
But when our churches become havens of prayer, our bone-dry world comes back to life. So do we. Our bed sheets and full calendars lie to us. But the believers' reality? A room full of praying people – in duty and privilege – has the power to change the world.