THE PRAYING CHURCH
Many churches today have
magnificent buildings, sophisticated organization, specialists from diverse
professions, and complicated theological concepts. But they lack a vigorous life, spiritual
power and the abidance of God. Consequently,
the church merely becomes an organization of men, teaching knowledge of their
beliefs and conducting routine programs and activities. It has very little effect upon the
transformation and growth of their spiritual lives. This makes it even more difficult for them to
preach the gospel powerfully and save the souls of the world. The services in the church have become only a
formality and the church appears to be extremely weak and passive. Sermons that shake the hearts of men cannot
be heard and awesome miracles or power of the Holy Spirit cannot be
experienced. Even the worshipers begin
to criticize each other and divide into cliques, causing the church situation
to deteriorate. The root of all these
tragic events is a shortage of prayers.
It is a natural result when there are no praying leaders and believers.
At the time of the apostles, the
churches did not have their own buildings and gathered mostly in the believers'
homes (Act 12:12; Rom 16:3-5). Their
organization was very simple and the leaders did not possess profound knowledge
or philosophy (Act 4:13). They were
merely a group of men with little education.
But the church at that time exhibited fully the power of God and bore
countless testimonies of transformed lives.
They spread the gospel effectively everywhere, and the Lord worked great
miracles and wonders through them. The
apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, shook many cities and villages (Act
5:12-16; 8:4-12). Those who were saved
were added daily, the church was filled with the love of God and spiritual joy,
as if the Kingdom
of Heaven was on
earth. The reason for all these
happenings is because the church in the apostolic times was a praying
church. There were many workers and
believers who lived praying lives. Through
daily prayer with intense supplication and deep communion with God, they
obtained spiritual virtue and power.
Their influence caused the church to revive and expand.
Prayer - The Most Important Work of the Church
"But we will devote ourselves to prayer,
and to the ministry of the word" (Act 6:4).
The early church was established
by prayer. Before the Holy Spirit
descended upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, the church record was but
a piece of blank paper which had no written account of victory. At that time, the disciples were timid and
feared death. jealousy, arrogance, weakness and
deficiency in faith were often seen.
They were like a divided and powerless army and could not withstand any
attack from Satan. Fortunately, they
obeyed the instructions of the Lord: prayed with fervency and waited upon the
power from above. After about ten days
of devoted prayer, the Holy Spirit descended mightily, every disciple was
filled with the Spirit of God, they were changed into Christian soldiers and the
church immediately prospered and greatly developed. When they experienced this power, they
realized the importance of prayer and wherever they went they built a praying
church. They sent workers by prayer (Act
performed healing, cast out demons (Act 4:29-31) and defeated tribulations and
persecutions with the weapon of prayer (Act 12:5). In those days, the church relied upon prayer
to conquer all difficulties. Because
they respected God and relied upon Him with all their hearts, they lived in His
care and grace daily. Those who joined
received God's bountiful blessings.
Their example is exactly what we need in today's church.
Prayer and preaching are the most essential works of the church, but prayer is
even more important than preaching.
Without sufficient time to offer earnest prayer, it will be impossible
to preach the gospel effectively. The
heart of man will not be prepared to obtain God's salvation and it will be more
difficult for him to receive the Holy Spirit or the grace of God. Therefore, the church should not only spread
the gospel actively, but devote more effort to the work of prayer.
THE PRAYING WORKER
“Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel
whenever he lowered his
hand, Amalek prevailed.” (Ex 17:11)
All the precious workers of God in
the Bible were praying individuals. They
left prominent examples of praying lives.
They devoted tremendous amounts of time to prayer; they afflicted their
flesh and offered prolonged fasting prayers, in order to seek after God's power
and His abidance. The entire Bible is
filled with such glorious records of prayers.
All their accomplishments of God's great task are the result of prayer, If the worker of God does not labor hard in prayer, God will
not abide with him, and henceforth he can do nothing.
Abraham built altars and lived a
praying life (Gen 12:7-8), so he became the friend of God (Jas 2:23). By the hand of persistent prayer, he
delivered Lot out of the city of Sodom
as a log being drawn from fire (Gen 18:22-33; 19:29). Jacob wept and prayed all night at the Ford
of Jabbok (Hos 12:3-5) and
wrestled with an angel. His prayer not
only moved God to change Esau's heart from enmity to compassion, but also
altered his own fate. Henceforth, he was
made a prince of God, Israel (Gen 32:22-29; 33:4).
Moses was a praying man of
God. It took 40 years of discipline for
him to learn prayer. When he prayed with
great faith, the Red Sea opened and the nation of Israel was saved (Ex
14:13-31). He walked alone to the top of
Mt. Sinai where he fasted and prayed 40
days and nights with no food or water.
His contrite pleading turned aside God's anger and the sins of Aaron and
the Israelites were pardoned (Deut 9:18-20; Ps 106:23). He went up the mountain at Rephidim, raising his hand to pray until the sunset. This assured a great victory in the battle
(Ex 1 7:8-1 3). If Moses had not prayed
constantly in such a manner, he would not have been able to deliver the people
of Israel out of Egypt, through the desert and into Canaan.
Joshua learned to be a praying
general from Moses. At an extremely
crucial moment of the battle, he called upon the Lord. Unprecedentedly,
the sun and moon stood still for about one day, so that the Israelites could
destroy their mighty enemy (josh 10:12-14).
Elijah was a praying prophet. At the time of total bankruptcy of the faith
of the Israelites, the entire nation was at the brink of death, he alone boldly
challenged 850 false prophets at the foot of Mt. Carmel. In faith he sent out a strong signal to God
and fire descended from heaven and burned all the sacrifices on the altar. This turned the hearts of the whole nation to
God. Then he climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel
and prayed with supplication seven times.
There came showers of rain that ended three and a half years of drought
and saved the whole nation. (I Kgs 18:36-46).
Nehemiah was a praying
leader. He wept and fasted for the holy
city of Jerusalem. His prayer moved God to touch the heart of
the Persian king to allow him to return to rebuild the holy city (Neh 1:4; 2:4-9). He
relied upon prayer to overcome all the hindrances and hardships. Finally, he accomplished the task of
rebuilding the city's wall (Neh 5:19; 6:14).
Esther was a praying queen. She fasted and prayed three days and nights
with all the Jews in the city of Shushan in order to
rescue the lives of her nation (Est 4:15-1 7).
Daniel was a praying president of
the kingdom of Persia.
An excellent spirit was formed through his consistent praying life of
three times a day. Through his earnest
prayers, God revealed to him the mystery of His great plan for the world. He became a powerful living witness for God
in two great empires (Dan 6:10,1 1; 10:10-12).
The Lord Jesus was a teacher of
prayer (Lk 11:1).
He devoted Himself totally to the work of prayer every day, in order to
accomplish the great task of salvation.
He left countless footprints of prayer in the wilderness (Mk 1:35; Lk 5:16), upon the mountain (Mt 14:22-25; Lk 6:12-13), in the garden of Gethsemane
(Lk 22:39-44; Heb 5:7) and even when he was dying on
the cross (Lk 23:34,46). Through His timeless prayers, he obtained
tremendous power to overcome all temptations from Satan and performed mighty
miracles. Prayer also afforded Him the
strength to undertake all the sufferings, even laying down His life on the
cross for the sake of all mankind. In
the process of training the disciples, the Lord Jesus taught them the most
important lesson - prayer. He revealed
the secret of prayer to His disciples: pray with a pure heart (Mt 5:8); pray in
secret by closing the door of the heart (Mt 6:6); ask, seek and knock in prayer
(Mt 7:7); and pray with importunity (Lk 11:8). He specially took Peter, James and John to
pray and let them experience how great is the power of prayer. It can raise the dead to life (Lk 8:49-56), create a clean heart and a Christ like
character (Lk 9:28-36), put to death all the lust of
the flesh, and make a person surrender totally to God's will (Mt
26:36-44). After the apostles received
the Holy Spirit - the prime mover of prayer, they recalled all the teachings of
the Lord. They began to devote
themselves to a praying life and became praying workers.
Peter prayed daily at set times
(Act 3:1; 10:9), and he often prayed together with his praying partner,
John. Hence, God worked with them,
performing many miracles, and gave the Holy Spirit to those on whom they laid
their hands (Act 3:2-7; 8:14-17). Paul
considered prayer as the first priority in his life. When he came to Jerusalem, he did not
have fellowship with the apostles. His
greatest desire was to go to the temple to commune with the Lord (Act
22:17). Through profound prayer he
learned the mystery of God and received His instructions. God gave him the power of the Holy Spirit and
various spiritual gifts, making him the most valuable vessel in the New
How much more does today's church
requires such praying workers! Through
their prayers, the truth and grace of God may abundantly be brought to those
who believed, The church will be powerless and
fruitless if there are no praying workers.
This loss is impossible to regain.
THE PRAYING BELIEVER
"Therefore confess your sins to one
another, and pray for one another, that you may he healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power
in its effects. " (Jas 5:16)
The believers in the apostolic
time were mostly praying believers. They
witnessed the praying life of their leaders and their hearts were shaken by the
effective power of prayer. They spent
ample time to pray when they assembled.
In daily living, they learned to rely upon the Lord in all things by
prayer. Every day they communed with God
at fixed times. Therefore, in those
days, spiritually strong Christians could be seen everywhere. They had strength to keep the commandments of
God, overcome the world and live a holy life.
Everyone of them became Christian soldiers and
God worked with them, spreading the gospel far and wide, saving many souls (Act
If the believers today would emphasize prayer, set
aside more time to devote themselves to prayer,
certainly they would be able to live a victorious life. Their hearts will be filled with spiritual
joy and satisfaction, and will accomplish wonderful works for the Lord. Scripture says “Elijah was a man subject to like
passions as we are” (Jas 5:17). This distinctly tells us that every person can
be as spiritually powerful as Elijah if only he would live a praying life. Through one's prayers of supplication, God
will definitely shower His blessing upon him.
This kind of praying man is an indispensable treasure in his family and
May the Spirit of the Lord
enlighten our hearts so we may understand that prayer is the most important
work in life.
We plead the Lord will awaken and persuade us to pray every day, and
help us to live a powerful praying life.