This is the third in a series of posts about revival in American churches, taken from II Chronicles 7:14. Today we focus on the word “pray.”
Prayer is possibly the one area I would say that has suffered in American Christianity the most over the last century or two. We still have faithful preachers across the nation preaching God’s Work without apology or compromise, and faithful members tithing and giving sacrificially. We still have soul-winners in our churches. But most Christians today, I believe, know little of what it means to have a strong prayer life.
Closeness to God is obviously not measured in how many minutes your prayer time lasts, and certainly we shouldn’t go around timing how long everyone prays to ascertain their spiritual maturity! However, if I only spent three minutes a day talking to my wife, and never spoke to her the rest of the day, you would certainly question the strength of our relationship. You would question it even more if those three minutes were spent mainly asking for her to do things for me.
I’m afraid this is what the prayer time of the average pew-sitting Christian in America looks like, if they even have a regularly scheduled prayer time at all, that is. I could be wrong, but I suspect that my illustration is closer to the truth than it should be. I know if my own prayer life represents our nation as a whole, then we are in serious need of revival in this area.
Now, you as a ministry leader may have a thriving prayer life. However, many in your congregation probably do not. The purpose of this blog is not to necessarily preach to you about your own prayer life. My purpose is to give practical tips on calling your local church back to fervent, revived prayer as a ministry leader. With that in mind, a few ideas follow. These are not mandatory ideas, just suggestions to consider.
Also, remember that programs obviously cannot replace a true heart to seek God. Perhaps some of the ideas below can simply serve as tools the Holy Spirit can use to stir your congregation back to that right heart of prayer that’s needed.
1. Institute a weekly prayer meeting.
You may already have one; some churches include this in their midweek service. Don’t treat it as an extra service, less important than Sunday morning. Make it a special time and be sure to regularly report on new requests and answered prayers, and allow members to do this as well. Publish a list that folks can take home and pray through during the week. Promote this time as a vital part of the church ministry.
2. Consider a men’s prayer meeting before services.
We never want to go into a service thinking we’ve got it handled on our own. We desperately need God to show up – without Him, we meet in vain. Certainly, you can have your own personal time of prayer before a service, but there’s also something about the idea of those fellow Christian brethren gathering together to pray with you over the day’s services – the preaching, the music, the bus ministry, etc.
3. Have a special week of fasting and prayer.
Schedule a special week (maybe before a revival meeting) for any church members to volunteer an hour of each day to pray, and to choose one day out of the week to fast. Fasting may be new for many members (another thing American Christianity has all but forgotten), and something like this could be a great way to introduce them to the concept.
4. Begin praying yourself for revival.
I challenge you to take an extra hour each morning this week and get on your face before God pleading for your nation to be revived, for your church to be revived, for your youth group to be revived, etc. When I’ve done this, I’ve been amazed at how much it changes my life, not to mention the results it might bring about in my church or nation. Again, my purpose isn’t to preach to you, or to say that you’re unspiritual if you don’t pray a certain particular way, but if you currently feel lethargic in your prayer life, give it a try and see what happens!
Again, these are not mean to be instant fixes, but tools that may spark a revival of prayer in your congregation. Always promote prayer and personal communion with God in your preaching and teaching. Pray for your church to grow in prayer! We must get back to fervent prayer if we are to see our churches revived.