There are so many texts we could go to in the New Testament that illustrate what’s in my heart right now: the essential role of prayer in the work of the church and in the identity of the church.
In Acts 1:9-26, we read about the first believers gathered in the upper room Jesus had appointed for His disciples, where they would persist in prayerful anticipation of the promised Holy Spirit.
In Colossians, Paul calls on the Colossian believers to devote themselves to “prayer with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). He requests that they pray for him and his ministry team in their efforts to “speak forth the mystery of Christ.” He also assured them of the constant prayers of their friend, Epaphras, who “always labored earnestly for them in his prayers, that they would stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12).
Indeed, I Thessalonians 5:17 admonishes us to “pray without ceasing!”
Prayer is the substance of how we get to where God wants us to be, so we are who He wants us to be when we arrive.
More than two months ago now, very soon into the quarantine, I invited each of us to prayerfully consider what God wanted to teach us through this experience so that when we came out on the other side, we wouldn’t be the same persons we were when it first began. As far as God is concerned He spares no tear, He wastes no pain. What a shame it would be if we did.
I wonder, what has God been saying to you these last few months? Have you been listening? What has He been showing you about what’s in your heart? Have you been looking? (Psalm 139:23-24). What are some of the ways He has been shaping you? I hope your meditation these lasts few months has been on so much more than how to stay healthy and to keep from being bored, news headlines or stock market updates.
As we all begin now to emerge from quarantine and the Covid-19 era (I know, I know—the ripples of this are far from over), and prepare now to enter “the other side of this,” congregationally, we now have an opportunity to put these lessons into practice.
In last Thursday’s devotion, Jay and I shared about our excitement to soon resume our corporate worship gatherings. More than anything we want this experience to be a unified, joy-filled celebration, one that Jesus Himself would have joy in being a part of. But for that to happen will require an investment on the part of each of us.
Over the last couple of weeks many of you have offered words of encouragement to our Ministry Leadership Team as we give leadership in the process of when and how we resume our corporate worship gatherings. We are truly grateful for this. We take this responsibility very seriously, and yet as a labor of love. But the truth is our role is only part of what a faithful church should look like in this. As a congregation we all need to assume spiritual responsibility with how we move forward and Who we will reflect in the process.
Because this is true, I am calling on us a church to devote this Wednesday, June 3, to a day of prayer and fasting. As you are able, set aside the meals of the day to instead devote to prayer. And this time, don’t just pray for yourself, but spend your prayers for your brothers and sisters in the church. Pray for their needs—whether their needs happen to look like yours or not. Pray for growth in our ministry and our mission (I trust you have been watching the news the last few days. Our world desperately needs the church right now). As we have sought His face for ourselves in a time of isolation, may we all the more seek His face for each other when it comes to how we will move forward in our re-gathering.
I know we all have been weathered and worn by this experience, and the steam has a way of escaping the kettle in one place or another. But may we choose now to marshal the lessons God has been teaching each of us for the spiritual good of one another, the edification of Christ’s church, the advance of the gospel, and the glory of His name!
Prayer: Not to us, O’ Lord! But to Thy name be glory.