There are three kinds of churches. Some churches pray when there is a crisis. Other churches have a prayer ministry among other ministries. Finally, there are churches that seek to bring prayer to the center of every ministry, to everything the church strives to do and be. They want to become a house of prayer for the nations.1
First, we can no longer pray only about our needs. Second, prayer can never be a program in the church. Further, prayer ministry cannot be a department among other departments. There cannot be a choice – if you sing, join our choir; if you teach, be a part of our Christian education program; if you love youth, work with our young people; and, oh yes, if you like to pray, we have a prayer ministry. Such an approach is doomed to failure. Our third choice is a model for prayer ministry that seeds prayer into every department of the church until there is a praying staff, with praying elders, and praying youth leaders, praying nursery workers and praying families. Everything we do must be bathed in prayer.2 The whole church and every believer must be called to prayer.
Every minister should know that if the prayer meetings are neglected, all his labors are in vain. Unless he can get Christians to attend prayer meetings, all else that he can do will not improve their state of spirituality.3
T. Forsyth offered an amazing insight,
But at last, it is truer to say that we live the Christian life in order to pray than that we pray in order to live the Christian life. It is at least as true. Our prayer prepares for our work and sacrifice, but all our work and sacrifice still more prepare for prayer.
Jesus not only said his house was to be a house of prayer. He said it was to be a house of prayer “for the nations” (Mark 11:17). This approach to prayer moves the church beyond itself to touch the world.
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P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.
1 P. Douglas Small, Transforming Your Church into A House of Prayer (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2006), 57-61.
2 Ibid, 64-68.
3 Charles Finney, “The Purpose of Public Prayer,” The Contemporaries Meet The Classics on Prayer, ed. Leonard Allen (West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing, 2003), 206.