Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Praying Church listens to God

I recently spent significant time talking with one of the faithful intercessors of our church. This woman reminds me of Samuel's mother, Hannah, who poured out her heart in prayer before God for a child (I Samuel 1:15).

She intercedes night and day for our church, asking God that many spiritual children will be birthed through the ministry of First Pres.

Her conversation so inspired me, I went home and re-read portions Richard Lovelace's Dynamics of Spiritual Life. I commend this book to you as a way to understand how spiritual renewal comes to God's people.

"In much of the church's life...the place of prayer has become limited and almost vestigial. The proportion of horizontal communication that goes on in the church (in planning, arguing and expounding) is overwhelmingly greater than that which is vertical (in worship, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession). Critically important committee meetings are begun and ended with formulary prayers; which are ritual obligations and not genuine expressions of dependence--when problems and arguments ensue, they are seldom resolved by further prayer but are wrangled out on the battlefield of human discourse. The old midweek prayer meetings for revival have vanished from the programs of most churches or have been transformed into bible studies ending with minimal prayer."

He then asks, "Why has this come about?"

 Lovelace believes, "It stems partly from the deficient teaching and emphasis on God himself throughout the church and partly from the man-centeredness of much religious activity. Deficiency in prayer both reflects and reinforces inattention toward God."

Finally, "Minimal prayer accompanying many projects in the church may indicate that what is being undertaken is simply what human beings can accomplish pretty well by themselves."

What do you think about Lovelace's view on prayer or lack of prayer in the church?