When visiting the temple Jerusalem, Jesus is overcome by the injustice of those in the temple courts who have turned the place into a social club and a place of personal profit making. As he reprimands these people Jesus quotes the book of Isaiah:
“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” (Matthew 21:13)
So God’s house is to be a house of prayer and the community of God is to be a community of prayer. In this passionate moment Jesus declares the centrality of prayer to the Christian faith. It is a practice that is to mark the community of God, not just individuals within the community. Indeed, the building plans for our Church premises include a Prayer Chapel. We know that as we reach out to our community we need everything we do to be covered in prayer.
Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century London preacher, learned what it was to cooperate with God and see His power transform many thousands of people. People regularly travelled to his church to learn the secret of his success. When they arrived at Spurgeon’s church he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. He called this prayer-room the powerhouse of the church. “If the engine room is out of action,” Spurgeon explained, “then the whole mill will grind to a halt. We cannot expect blessing if we do not ask.”
In our church we understand our purpose is draw people into a life transforming relationship with Jesus. If the numbers of people who entered into a life transforming relationship with Jesus through Spurgeon’s ministry is any indication, then we should be compelled to take prayer very seriously. But if the experience of Spurgeon isn’t enough, then the words of James add further motivation:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV)
It seems a great irony that in our busy, result and achievement-oriented world any time for stillness and prayer is consumed by activity and action that we hope will bring the outcomes we desire. Yet, in the intimacy of prayer where we hear from God and present our petitions to God we see the greatest power and effectiveness.
Starting on the 18th September, as a Church we are going to be following “The Prayer Course” in Sunday services and in our Connect Groups. This course is a journey through the Lord’s Prayer and is designed for discussion within the Church and to deepen the prayer life of our Church. The course is also available on-line.
If you don’t attend a Connect Group at the moment, please consider whether you could join one for the 6-week duration of this course as we seek to deepen our personal and corporate prayer lives.