Home   e-Library       中文 
e-Library Home |  Browse By Category |  Study the Bible    
 (Living Waters 1986 Winter)
The Praying Church
TOC | Previous | Next



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 13:2,3).  They 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.


            “Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and

            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 Testament era.

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.


            "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 11:19-21).

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 church.


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.