Basic 6: Prayer-Francis Chan
2 Chronicles 7:14-16; Luke 11:1-13; Matthew 6:5-15; James 4:1-3
Members of the early church devoted themselves to prayer. When reading the book of Acts in may seem enormous what that small group of believers was supposed to accomplish. We take prayer seriously when we understand the depth of our need for God to work supernaturally in our lives. If we are going to really live out our calling as the church, then we need to devote ourselves to prayer.
Ecclesiastes offers this perspective: God is in heaven, and we are on earth, so we should address Him accordingly (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). Balancing this out is perspective in Romans where we approach God is “Abba” or daddy (Romans 8:14-17). There is also discipline involved (Hebrews 12:5-11), but it is the faithful correction of a loving Father who knows what is best for us. The image of God as our Father speaks of intimacy. This doesn’t mean that we lose the respect for God that Ecclesiastes calls us to. Because of God’s character, He is worthy of our love and respect simultaneously.
When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are claiming solidarity with Jesus. We are identifying ourselves with Him and acknowledging that His mission is also our mission. We are saying that the things we are asking are the same things that Jesus would be asking for (John 14:13-14. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Prayer for the early church was not a program; it was a natural response to the intense setting in which they lived and the impossible task they had been given. We too need to build prayer into our lifestyle for the purpose of accomplishing our God-given mission.
A good place to start is by analyzing the frequency and intensity of our prayer lives. We cannot deny the fact that our true beliefs manifest themselves in our actions. Regardless of what we say we believe, our actions reveal our fundamental assumptions about life. Such as, does the amount of time we spend in prayer reflect our view of God? Do we see prayer as vital and necessary for accomplishing the mission God has called us to?
We join together in fellowship, teach one another, pray, and share in communion so that we can work together to accomplish this mission. Part of our fellowship should involve praying for one another.
What is the difference between the meaningless, repetitious prayers that Jesus condemned in Matthew 6 and the persistent prayers He commended in Luke 18? Then what do we do with the statement “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? As ones who are praying for His kingdom to come, it may mean processing everything you encounter in the presence of God, asking Him what He thinks and how you should respond. It will probably look a little different for each person, depending on your unique situation. But the point is, God wants prayer to be a constant and essential part of your life.
If we are going to seriously pursue our calling to live out God’s intention for His church, we will need to persistently pursue Him in prayer. This will require sacrifice, but as we experience more intimacy with God and see Him working in and around us, we won’t regret a single minute that we devoted to prayer.
1 Samuel 1:27-28
2 Chronicles 7:1
1 Thessalonians 5:17