Responsibilities of the Church Day 12 – Prayer
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” (1 Timothy 2:1, ESV)
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2, ESV)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, ESV)
At the crucifixion of Jesus, right as He was breathing His last, the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom. This had tremendous significance for it opened up a new way of communicating with God through prayer. In the Old Testament, God directed the building of the tabernacle so He could dwell with His people and communicate with them, though not directly but through a priest. With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we’ve been given direct access to God through the unparalleled privilege of prayer. Jesus bought this privilege for us through the shedding of His blood, and so we must never take prayer lightly or for granted.
Prayer is how we as Christians communicate with God. It should be a regular part of our day; we are specifically commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). While this doesn’t mean that we spend 24/7 on our knees continually praying, it does mean that communication with God remains open and dialogue flows back and forth with regularity and familiarity.
The local church should also engage in a regular pattern of prayer. What should the church be praying for? There are so many things, but we will list just a handful:
-Worship, praise and thanksgiving to Jesus
-Growth and protection of the church and its members
-Individual needs of those who are experiencing difficulties
-Salvation of the lost
-Help in teaching and preaching clearly and effectively
-Guidance and protection for leaders in the church as well as political leaders
Prayer meetings are beneficial in so many ways and collective prayer within each church family is crucial. To gather together and collectively lift up the needs of the church, its members, and the community as a whole is not only powerful but also scriptural. These meetings also give opportunity for developing our own private prayer life. Becoming comfortable praying in front of others and learning the various needs of our fellow believers help us grow spiritually. Church leaders and believers who have been in fellowship for many years should encourage others in prayer, and even share with other believers specific areas in which they are praying for them. How encouraging it would be to hear words such as, “I’m praying that God will continue to develop in you the gift of mercy, as I see it so clearly and naturally in the way you speak to others” or, “I want you to know I’m praying about the difficult situation you’re facing, and that you are supported and loved by me in the process.”
Collective prayer within the church is not a forum for singling out and sternly correcting members in their areas of struggle. It’s not a place to stand on soap boxes and discourage believers with pointed comments. It’s a beautiful privilege and meant to unite the believers, evidenced by our “Amen” (meaning “so be it”). It’s a powerful way to worship and invite God to move and work within each local testimony and the lives of each member. May we truly embrace the privilege that prayer is, and encourage those we worship with in praying without ceasing. How amazing it is that God wants to communicate with us in this way, and loves to hear and answer on our behalf.