A friend wrote me today and shared the following account in his letter. His comments, and the question that he poses, are worth both worth consideration by anyone who professes love for Christ and his kingdom. Here is what my friend wrote:
The other evening I opened our board meeting with a heartfelt prayer, something that I haven’t done in a while in a board meeting context. I have shared with the other board members the passion that God has been giving me for more prayer, and that we need to set aside as much time as we can and as often as we can to pray, so as to see the hand of God move in our lives, and in the lives of those we serve. Anyhow, as our evening ended (and on time) one of the executive staff members leaned over to our director as he was about to close in prayer and stated “Hey, just make sure you don’t pull one of those ‘preacher prayers’ like our friend over here, because it’s been a long night and I am ready to go.” He smiled as he looked over at me, and one other gentleman laughed, but I did not.
Why do I share this John? I am in so many Christian gatherings and board meetings and it seems that without fail we almost always tolerate real praying. Praying, in so many settings, seems like a bookend to a meeting or seminar, period.
Are we so dull spiritually that prayer, earnest and serious prayer, is something we can dispense with or leave to professional ministers? I fear the truth of an honest answer might well reveal the paucity of our true spirituality in far too many ministry settings. Next time your group meets ask the question: "What does prayer reveal about our trust in God alone?"
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Thanks for sharing this. I have to agree with the post you shared with us. I’ve only been in Sovereign Grace churches for a few years and it seems to me that the people I have met seem most concerned with doctrine as an end in itself. I’ve noted many conferences that give themselves over to defining the “gospel’, making sure doctrine is correct or combating the latest “error”. Most of these conferences feature the same speakers, seem to be held at the same locations and are attended by the same people. I wonder if we have created a culture of Calvinistic Groupies much like the popular rock culture of our day. I also wonder what the response would be if we were to have a conference devoted wholly to the subject of prayer. Thanks again for your thoughts and pardon me for taking the oppurtunity to vent on this subject.
This was a deeply convicting post. I am keenly aware of the great lack of fervent, humble, immediate, direct, unscripted prayer both in and out of church.
Please pray that I pray this kind of prayer.
What an appropriate post. I preached Ephesians 3:12 yesterday. “In him and through faith in him we can approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Why are we so prayerless? I searched my heart on this one. We have too much confidence in our own skills and strategies. We are too busy doing “important stuff” to take much time for prayer. We aren’t convinced that it will really make that much difference. We think that if we work hard enough we will make an impact whether we pray or not. We live in a practical society and the mystery of relationship with God doesn’t fit easily.
I agree with Andrew’s comment. We need to pray that we will pray and enter God’s presence with freedom and confidence. He has invited us. Shall we fail to respond?
Thank you, John, for the post about prayer in meetings. It is something I speak about often, in the context of “Becoming a House of Prayer” and also “Leading By Prayer.” I have quoted from your post on my blog, Prayer First. Warm regards and thanks, Dana