A Healthy Church: A Praying Church

What the surrounding world surely sees as something entirely unremarkable—a group of people with every head bowed and every eye closed—is actually one of the most important events in all of Christ’s kingdom.

 In prayer, God’s people admit their own frailty and together call upon the name of almighty God.  And in answer to our prayer, God stirs and refreshes the hearts of his people and pours out his Spirit on the church (Isa. 62:6-7Luke 11:13). God holds out wonderful promises to the church on her knees!

 

It is said that a visitor to C.H. Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle once asked Spurgeon to tell him the key to his ministry’s great success. In answer, the famous preacher took the visitor to a basement room where a group of church members bowed in intercessory prayer. “Here,” he explained, “is the powerhouse of the church.”

As usual, Spurgeon was correct. A healthy church must have her saints on their knees. What the surrounding world surely sees as something entirely unremarkable—a group of people with every head bowed and every eye closed—is actually one of the most important events in all of Christ’s kingdom.

Corporate prayer has been a central practice of God’s people throughout redemptive history. The sons of Seth “began to call upon the name of the Lord” as they gathered in the new-created world (Gen. 4:26), Esther and Daniel each called for a prayer meeting in times of crisis (Esther 4:15-16Dan. 2:17-18), and Jesus himself jealously guarded prayer as a priority for God’s people (Matt. 21:13). Whenever the church gathers for a Wednesday night prayer meeting or bows her head for the Sunday morning pastoral prayer or intercedes for one another in small groups and Bible studies, she takes up the work that God’s people have always done.

This is also the lesson of the book of Acts. From the earliest days of the church, we find God’s people gathered for prayer: “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14). The prayer described here is deliberate (“devoting themselves to prayer”), it was united (“with one accord”), and it included the full diversity of Christians (“all these. . .with the women. . .and his brothers”).

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