But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret. And your father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. - Matthew 6:6-7
Prayer. We often relate this to meals, church service, and sometimes desperation. This is a very lacking area of the Christian lifestyle in modern times. We become busy with having kids or working. "We can barely think" is often our declaration of why we cannot pray. Recently, I have realized that we cannot pray if we do not want to, and this is a fourfold reasoning:
1. I will need to give up time in my life to pray
2. I will have to put my control over the situation now upon God
3. I will have to hear back from God with an answer
4. I will have to sit in silence with my thoughts
As an elder in a church, I have counseled many people in my ministry life. I have had many excuses as to why people cannot pray. These areas above are the focal points of many people when they ask me to help them with their prayer life.
I will be honest: lack of prayer is why many people have needed counsel in the first place. We are in a state in history that we must dedicate our lives to prayer.
Why? It was the established method of the early church some 2,000 years ago – a prayer meeting in an upper room in ancient Jerusalem. Turn your Bible (or app if you're tech savvy) to Acts 1 and 2. It clearly states that they were waiting in the room and praying with one accord.
This was for two reasons: first, Jesus commanded them to do so. Second, they were terrified of what was going to happen to them. Their Lord and religious leader was just put to death on the cross.
The disciples gathered in some seriously stressed frames of thought. Yet, they were there faithfully, some 120 in number, and the holy spirit came like a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire. Obedience, desperation, reality, and expectation greatly benefit the believer and the church.
There was a man who lived through the 20th century who mentored Keith Green and was best friends with A.W. Tozer. His name was Leonard Ravenhill. This man was a man that people said "pastors hated" because he called them out for their need for the truth from the scriptures and the holy spirit to bring conviction in their preaching.
Ravenhill said, "If you want to know how popular a church is, you go Sunday morning. If you want to know how popular the preacher is, you go Sunday night. If you want to know how popular God is, you go to the prayer meeting — and he loses every time." If you caught on the "He" here is about God.
This is a reality from the 20th century to the 21st century. We need to be the church that celebrates God. We do this through teaching, preaching, music, reading the Bible, and much more, yet prayer makes it all more than theory and becomes a reality when we make God popular in our lives and churches.
I once talked to a man who had come to my church, and he stopped me after service, telling me that it had been 20 years since he personally prayed at church. They had worship. The pastor prayed and taught. He never prayed. He just existed for 20 years until this service he just attended. This was a heavy burden for me. I was baffled.
It drove me to pray for believers, churches, my life, my family, and my country. I soon attended two pastoral prayer meetings in our area. I started prayer meetings in our church. It changed my whole life. It changed church life. We must pray and make God know he is more famous than our church. He is the purpose of everything.
Maybe start a prayer meeting. Attend an already-established prayer meeting with brothers and sisters in Christ. I encourage you to pray as a believer, a pastor, or someone thinking about God. Make God famous in your life. Know him and be known by him continuously. Pray without ceasing.
Brady Roser is lead pastor at The Bridge Church in Carson City.