20 Mar Does Prayer Work – Part 2
In that post we compared prayer to gasoline that we use in a variety of machines.
Today I would like to continue the analogy with some practical steps.
- As I mentioned in the previous post, I think we choose to travel on foot (our own man made efforts) rather than choosing God’s vehicle of advancing the gospel (Luke 9, Luke 10, Matthew 10, Matthew 28 to name a few). It seems silly when we put it this way (I mean why would anyone walk if they could drive). But the fact of the matter is that you don’t need gasoline to walk and many of our churches don’t seem to need much prayer. If each of us truly chose to make disciples personally, every day, as we go, and in everything we do I think we would see prayer as more necessary and not a dreaded obligation. Prayer then becomes the essential fuel of what we and our churches are trying to accomplish (and ultimately what God wants us to do).
- Even if we choose the right vehicle (rather than traveling on foot), we so often choose to fill it with a few drops of gas every day. We pray too little. Now, I know our faith is not about doing things for God, but I wonder if in our zealousness to not be “works based” we have lost the art of simply doing prayer. So I suggest you start by simply doing an hour or two hours in prayer for several weeks and seeing what happens. God has given us a big rig truck, so lets take the time to fill its tank (it’s going to take some time and effort I think). But maybe, this is as simple (not easy) as slowing down our lives, cutting ministries from our churches, starting to actually spend hours in prayer, actually fasting a day a week, and simply learning as we go how to do all this without just going through the motions. I challenge you to do prayer well and fully, take time to stop and fill the tank to the top.
- We also view prayer as a very personal thing (which it is). But in reality, gasoline needs hundreds and thousands of people before it gets to your car (which is probably why it costs so much). There’s thousands of people involved in drilling, refining, transporting, distributing, selling, and there’s even an attendant at the gas station to make sure the gasoline makes it correctly into your car (and that you pay for it). So why not foster prayer on a large scale in our churches and larger networks. What would happen if all parts of the gasoline supply chain decided to only personally pump gasoline. We would run out of gas quickly!!! So let’s guide all ministries in our churches to center what they do on prayer. If prayer is the fuel, then let’s make sure there’s plenty of it being produced from all departments.
- What about the topics of our prayers? Have you ever listened to people pray? We like to preach in our prayers (ie…God, please help us to remember that we need to be kind to our families and not get angry with them), we make announcements in our prayers (ie…God, I pray that you will bring men to the pancake breakfast on Saturday even though it’s really early at 6:30am), we love to pray for generic spiritual things (ie…God, please help us to stay focused on you today), and we love pray for horrible things that have happened in our prayers (ie…God, I want to pray for sister Suzi’s friend’s mother’s cousin who got in a car accident). But where is the prayer for our communities, for the people we’re trying to share Jesus with, and for spiritually dark problems facing our towns? It’s like if we filled our cars with gasoline only to compete in NASCAR races. There’s a great deal of entertainment for sure, but the cars never actually go anywhere! Sometimes we spin our wheels and go in circles with the prayer effort that we do use. But what about a concerted effort to pray less general, blah, lifeless prayers and instead find our way to road trips of intercession for our communities and disciple making efforts (see #1 about the vehicle we choose to travel with).
I want to be clear that I’m overstating some of these things to make a point. Obviously it is good to pray many of the prayers I mentioned above. Obviously it is wonderful to have a personal prayer life. But can’t we get a little bit better in how we pray? And can’t we spend a lot more time doing it with a lot more people?
Paul Watson (of Contagious Disciple Making) once said in a webinar, “Every disciple making movement has been preceded by a prayer movement.” REALLY? EVERY SINGLE ONE??? Why should we be surprised? The world of auto mechanics tells us that every movement by a vehicle has been preceded by movement of fuel.
Well, if that’s true, what are we waiting for?