Over the past few weeks we have been discussing our Mission and Vision. Our Mission—What We Are Called To Do—is to reach and teach for changed lives. Our Vision—Where We Hope To Go—is that we want to be a community of disciples who love God and love others. Over the next few Sundays we will discuss four (4) principles needed to carry out our mission and move towards our vision. The first principle is the most important principle: Trusting God through Prayer. Let us briefly consider the importance of prayer: namely, personal, family, and church prayer.
Importance of Prayer
Outside of the reading and studying of God’s Word, there is nothing more important than prayer. Prayer is communication with God, an act of worship in which a person communicates with God the Father, through the access provided by God the Son, and by the prompting of God the Spirit. Therefore, prayer is non-negotiable. In fact it is more important than food because while the Bible speaks of a time of fasting from food (Matt 6:17) it never calls for fasting from prayer (1 Thess 5:17).
Jesus expects us to pray (Matt 6:5-7; Matt 6:9; Luke 11:9; Luke 18:1). Colossians 4:2 says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer.” Prayer is vital to our spiritual health and growth. One of the main reasons for a lack of godliness is a lack of prayer. The prayer life usually grows cold before the spiritual zeal begins to wane. We, the members of FBSC, recognize the importance of prayer and devote ourselves to prayer in three areas: personal, family, and church.
Jesus told His disciples, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matt 6:6). Prayer, according to Jesus, must occur in your room (e.g., closet, inner room) because every Christian needs time alone with God. It is during these moments that one can focus more exclusively on God. Personal prayer is neither flashy nor noticeable—as opposed to standing on the street corner—but it is one of the most effective means of being conformed into the image of Christ. The one who prays in the closet is not concerned about who hears and sees but whether or not God hears and sees.
Personal prayer is important because salvation is personal. Just as each person must be reconciled to God the Father through God the Son, so each reconciled person is bid to come “boldly before the throne of grace” (Heb 4:16). Let us pray in our closet.
We must pray in our closet, but we must also step out of our closet and walk into the living room and pray with our family. Fathers are called—with the help of mothers—to bring their children “up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Part of this solemn task is to pray with them. Family prayer is vital. The implications of this are manifold: 1) You are talking to your children, 2) You are listening to your children, 3) You are spending time with your children, 4) You are pointing your children to God, and 5) You are modeling prayer. It has been said that the family who eats together is more likely to stay together; but it has also been said that the family who prays together is more likely to stay together forever. Husbands and fathers, take responsibility in your household and pray for your family and with your family. Wives and mothers, support your husband and if he will not or cannot do it, lead the way in prayer. Let us pray in our living room.
Our prayers must not stop in our living room, but must be brought into the sanctuary. Listen to the following from E.M. Bounds in his work “The Necessity of Prayer”
Prayer stands related to places, times, occasions and circumstances. It has to do with God and with everything which is related to God, and it has an intimate and special relationship to His house…Prayer is always in place in the house of God. When prayer is a stranger there, then it ceases to be God’s house at all.
Jesus said concerning God’s house, “My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Matt 21:13). The church, charged with making disciples, gets it’s fuel and energy through prayer. Disciples are made and souls are saved by the power of God mightily at work through His people who trust Him through prayer. While programs and policies have value, we can’t make disciples without God and we must acknowledge our complete dependence on Him. Let us pray in our sanctuary.
We pray prayers of praise in which we delight in “how majestic is Your name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:9). We pray prayers of thanksgiving for “all things working together for good” (Rom 8:28) on our behalf. We pray prayers of confession in which we cry out, “against you, you alone, have I sinned and done what is evil in [God’s] sight” (Psalm 51:4). We pray prayers of petition in which we ask God for “our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). We pray prayers of intercession in which we plead on behalf of others that they may be saved (1 Tim 2:1).
A community of disciples who love God and love others and is intentional about reaching and teaching for changed lives only comes through trusting God through prayer.