Does your church pray?
I don’t mean a polite “invocation” at the beginning of the service. I want to know if your church corporately participates in intense, eternity-changing intercession when it gathers?
What is an “invocation” anyway? It is when we invoke, or invite God to enter our worship service. We are actually inviting Him into His house? What kind of double-speak is that? It’s His day, and He invites His people to worship in His house. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” the Lord urges through the apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:25.
A more appropriate request then might be that God would make us attentive so we can hear His voice. We might ask Him to “tune our hearts to sing Thy praise,” as the song says. We want Him to help us make the songs we sing true worship gifts to Him. We entreat Him to shut out the distractions and draw us into His presence. We ask that He will lay on our hearts the same burdens that are on His. Repentance and praise must be consistent ingredients.
While it’s true that “prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend” (Steps to Christ, p. 93), that doesn’t mean it is casual or impromptu or shallow. We would not come to speak to the people for God without preparation. Neither should we come to speak to God for the people without preparation. If it’s true as Jesus said that His house should be a house of prayer, then there is no more important part of the worship service than praying, and no more important preparation than preparing to pray.
I attended a service recently when the worship leader drew us up short with a simple question: Does our church spend more time in the announcements or in praying? Now I’m not suggesting that we worship with a stopwatch, but we should take seriously the management of spiritual priorities.
If our meetings are bland and predictable, if miracles are few, if our emphasis is on raising church expense rather than on raising the dead, maybe it’s because we see praying as supplemental rather than central, as a casual saying of grace at the beginning of the meal rather than as the joyous savoring of the meal itself.
Don’t you think this might be something to pray about?
Ruthie Jacobsen is Prayer Ministries coordinator for the North American Division.
Note: To view this week’s world church prayer requests, click here!