The sunset was taken by my son Matthew. How he seems in his own little world too often and how we worry about how he might apply himself. Perhaps God also looks upon us and thinks the same. Thinks that all we need to do is pray, as He taught when He came to earth in human form.
Is it a time to pray?
Very often as I journey through the day I hear of groups that are setting up against the Christian faith, or I see other faiths doing things really well. This screams out at me. As a Christian church these things can be missing in our worship and life, and perhaps through highlighting other faiths. Is God is trying to compel us to act?
Jesus prayed before he started his earthly ministry (before he was baptised), and before he was arrested to be crucified. Jesus showed us through his life that prayer should be at the heart of our life. Yet do we struggle to find places to pray in the workplace?
Have you ever found it difficult to pray, or difficult to openly pray with others, and these are just some of the stumbling blocks. As I said before there are other faiths, which perform prayers with such devotion. Before you ask “didn’t Jesus tell us to pray in secret?” – Which he did (Matt 6:6), I do realise this, but is God trying to highlight or shock us into some action. Perhaps we should take a health check to see how we can improve our community’s prayer life. Jesus prayed for long periods, on his own, in groups, singing prays, in utter despair and in many other variations, but he prayed before action and as action.
On a walk around the community talking to people about what their worries were, and how God could help their life, I was struck at how simple and how hard at the same time it would be to ask to pray for someone. For instance it is a simple matter to ask someone “May I pray for you?”, but for many it is still a new thing, an unusual thing, and an often overlooked thing, but one of the most important actions that we can take.
I was humbled when my Mother told me that she had a conversation on the phone with a friend who asked how she was, and when she told the person how her health was not so good lately, he suggested that they say a prayer over the phone. How I need to be more like this person who puts me to shame.
I believe prayer is one of the fundamental aspects of mission and evangelism, and it is one of the most active things that can help to show the love of the church outside its large brick walls. Have you ever heard comments that prayer is “learning to waste your time?” But I truly believe that prayer works and is extremely important, not only that – it is the most important thing we can do.
“Prayer works?” I hear you ask. Yes prayer does work if we are praying the will of God and we are led by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it takes God some time for his plans to be worked out, or for his will to be done, but prayer works. Sometimes God’s plans seem to fail at first but when looking back on this adversity, we find that on reflection that the prayers have worked but worked in a outstandingly awesome way that only God could have imagined. If prayers did not work, then that would be tantamount to God abandoning us, and God going back on his word – which he doesn’t. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Saint Paul puts it well when he says;
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The apostles thought that it was that important, that they had to get other followers to meet other needs of the community, while they prayed and delivered the word.
“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
The Sunday Assembly is a group that have started to meet to develop a sense of community, a sense of community without God. Surely this is a slap in the face for church, certainly when some are even meeting in churches and their founder has said that they “just borrowed” the order of service from the church. Singing, a speaker to make them think, a collection, and even a quiet reflective moment. British society has grown up with church, perhaps people have left feeling that their needs have not been met and then they join this group who put things in a very comfortable, and similar manner. The devil is like that, he will give you some truth but change a very small thing, so at first you don’t notice and you think it perfectly normal and it fits in with your perfectly normal life. God though is not small, he is not unimportant, he is the most important thing that has been, and is and is to come – so leaving God out of this equation is a fatal plan of the devil.
Here is the action without the prayer, without the worship, and without God. I would not say these people are miss-guided, rather these people are self-guided. When they invite charismatic guest speakers and worship only their own achievements this screams of a verse in Isaiah;
“Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.”
We must respond to this. Just taking the morals out of what Jesus said and leaving Jesus out is a dangerous act. Saint James said;
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
First by praying for guidance and then through action. These self-communities might do some good, they might even ignite some Christians into action, but they are like people looking at their own faces in the mirror, worshipping their own good. It is soon forgotten, there is no Jesus to sustain their life and love through his eternal Spirit of life, the Holy Spirit.
Do we find it hard to fit prayer into the routine of the day? As nurses, teachers, workers of all sorts that are busy and trying to earn a living, do we find that trying to fit prayer into the routine of the day is almost impossible. There needs to be a change. Children in schools need to be given time to pray, and this should take president over all other parts of the day. For faith schools this might not seem as a problem, but can be, but for non-faith schools it is the same story – almost impossible to find that place of quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of children and over-worked staff.
There is a need to implement prayer into every aspect of our lives, not as a routine, not for show, and not to just read a prayer of the day, but for real prayer that speaks from the spirit about needs and concerns, and for prayer that listen to God’s Will, not our will to see what action must be done.
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer”
The time for prayer is now – let us go up and enter our temple and pray.