No great movement of God has ever been undertaken without prayer. Think about the early church. There, the disciples watched as Jesus ascended up into the heavens. As they stared into the sky with their mouths hanging open, an angel appeared and admonished them to remember that Jesus would one day return in like fashion.
What did the disciples do next? They returned to the upper room where they had shared the last supper and began to pray. It’s important that we notice they did not plan nor did they preach. They did not strategize or brainstorm. They didn’t conduct listening sessions or seek feedback using survey monkey. They simply began to pray. (cf. Acts 1:12-14)
What happens when God’s people pray together about the direction of the church?
First, the hearts in the church and heart of the church is unified with the purposes of God. Corporate prayer brings the church into alignment with heart of God. It is in prayer that we are reminded of who God is and what God is really about. When we pray we connect with God and receive access to all of his resources. Years ago I heard a man speak on the subject of prayer. In his sermon he referenced Luke 19:46, where Jesus rebuked the money changers in the Temple by saying, “My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” He then went on to say, “If the house of God is not a house of prayer, then its somebody else’s house.”
Second, the church discovers God’s direction through prayer. Sometimes we are guilty of planning and strategizing and at the conclusion of all of our preparations we tack a prayer on the end of them, asking God to bless the plans we have already made. Unfortunately, we often treat church with such routine that we don’t even consider our need for God’s divine guidance. Year after year we run the same ministry plays, receiving the same ministry results, all the while wondering why our churches are not thriving. Prayer opens our minds to the possibilities of things God wants to see happen in our communities. But we’ll never be awakened to the new thing God wants to do if we do not pray.
Tomorrow I’ll post the final thought on the importance of discerning God’s plan for the church. In the meantime, let me encourage you to wrestle a bit with Don Miller’s quote above. Is your church God’s house? Or does it belong to someone else?