Two years ago, some good friends invited my wife Marla and me to join them at the Iowa State vs. Iowa Football Game in Ames, Iowa and we went. Our proclivity to participate in what we deem profitable reveals that gathering as a church family to pray is not very high on the priority list. I offer three incentives to help us believe that doing so is really important.
First of all, we have the Activity of the early church.
We observe their example In Acts 2:42. As God’s people gathered—in the temple courts and from house to house—they cultivated their relationship with and communicated their reliance upon God through prayer. We also observe their enthusiasm in Acts 2:42. “devoted to prayer” (literally, “the prayers” or the regular daily prayers). “Devoted” means without deviation in the practice. Many are “devoted” to coffee—never miss that morning brew.
Have we really progressed spiritually to the point that as a local church we are less dependent upon God’s power and less desirous of God’s person than the first converts? I know we are not and I hope we have not. We are invited to pray.
Secondly, we have the Admonition of Scripture.
In 1 Timothy 2:1 Paul’s first instruction is to pray. We are called together to pray because prayer does change things (see James 5:16b—accomplishes much). We are given the blessed privilege of interceding on behalf of others and watching as God works.
One purpose of our prayers is “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (vs.2).
Prayer serves to provide us with peace as a platform for proclaiming pardon through faith in Christ according to 1 Timothy 2:4.
Finally, we have the Answers from God.
Acts 12 records a humorous and yet instructive turn of events when the imprisoned Peter shows up at the door where the church is praying fervently for his protection and release. Peter’s presence was proof of the power of prayer and yet they did not believe it was true. God’s divine intervention and deliverance of Peter challenge me to pray for bigger things than I would normally believe could happen.
Are we guilty of going through the motions of prayer but not expecting God to answer? God wants us to pray and works when we do pray.
William Carey, that great missionary to India who said, “Expect Great things from God, attempt great things for God.” In Matthew 7:7ff, Jesus told us to ask, seek, and knock in order to receive, find, and have the door opened. We are promised that when we ask according to God’s will, He hears and answers (1 John 5:14-15).
Through corporate prayer we remember, respect God’s commands and receive God’s blessings.