“We Believe in Prayer” – Part 2

I hope that those who read this article would have already read the first article in this short series on Prayer. (If you have not, I encourage you to click and read “The Power of Prayer“.) Before we can even begin to talk about having a passion for prayer, we must first believe that God hears our prayers and answers these prayers. Putting it in another way, if we do not believe God exists, or if we do believe He exists but don’t believe prayer accomplishes anything, then we would have nothing to be passionate about.

In some ways, we have another chicken-egg dilemma, the question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. At least that is how some people seem to operate. The Bible supports the view that “believing is seeing” (see Hebrews 11:6 and also John 20:29). But many people live more on the principle of “seeing is believing”, and when they don’t see God answering a prayer the way they think He should, then they question the practice of prayer and even question God Himself.

So as I continue in this article, I stand on the conviction that God exists, He hears and answers prayer, and praying is not only the normal thing for a Christian to do, but it is quite an exciting activity to do. Now let us dive into this second study on prayer. Again, I am summarizing some of the key points that were shared in a Sunday school teaching session at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas.

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OVERVIEW: “This lesson is about the need to develop a true passion for prayer. Prayer is our source, the course of success, the secret to life, our supply and our strength. But an effective, powerful prayer life comes only when it is our priority. Our priorities reveal our passion.” (Taken from the outline handed to us in the Sunday School classroom.)

One of the Key Text passages for our study was Acts 6:1-4. The church in Jerusalem was mightily blessed by God in those early months after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. They grew rapidly as many thousands came to believe in Christ to be their Savior and Lord. The only problem when any group experiences rapid growth, is whether or not the leadership of that group is organized well enough to manage all of the people. And in Acts 6, it is apparent that some people, the Hellenistic Jews (Jews who grew up outside of Palestine), were not getting their portion of daily food rations.

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When the complaint became known to the Apostles, the leaders of the early church, and proved to be a valid complaint, the leaders had to make some important decisions. Now pause here and ask yourself what you would have done in this situation. I know what I would have been tempted to do. I would have called in the various other leaders, plus the key representatives of the disenfranchised group and we would have probably reorganized the activities and responsibilities that each person had. Then over the coming weeks and months we would convene more meetings to see that everything was running smoothly.

Not so for the Apostles. They did recognize the importance and seriousness of taking good care of all the church members. But they quickly delegated this responsibility to other capable leaders. But for themselves, they stated quite clearly that their two most important tasks before God and on behalf of the people were to preach the Word of God and to pray. It was their strong conviction, their passion, that their true source of personal strength and power in ministry was directly dependent upon the continued practice and commitment to prayer.

What I find interesting and dismaying at the same time, is that many of us profess a personal faith in Christ and also believe in the principle that prayer is important, but few of us actually practice the spiritual discipline of prayer. And I include myself when I write this. We give our mental assent to this truth that prayer is powerful and important. And it’s not that we don’t pray at all, but are we really passionate about praying? As the Lesson Overview puts it, have we made prayer a real priority in our lives?

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In a recent article, “Giant Step For Bible Translation“, I shared the excitement we all felt within our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators, as we dedicated our first permanent home office building. This structure is symbolic of the rapid growth we have experienced in our personnel, going from 182 career missionaries in 2006 to 322 career missionaries right   2011. And the growth is not slowing down. In fact, the goal for the next six-year plan (2013 – 18) is to try to double our mission again to reach the point of having 800 career missionaries.

So what has made the difference? Hard work? Certainly! And an optimistic spirit and better skills in recruitment and retention of missionaries? That also has a part to play. But if you were to ask Greg Pruett, our current President of PBT, he would say, “Prayer is not just A strategy for seeing global mission work accomplished; Prayer is THE strategy.” And not only does Greg live out this principle in his life, he has also proven the truth of this principle in what God is currently doing in and through the ministries of Pioneer Bible Translators.

My question to you and I then is this:  Have we made prayer a priority in our lives?  And how do we know what are the priorities of our lives?  Basically, whatever we spend most of our time and energies upon, and especially whatever we think most about, those things are our priorities.  As for me, I’m not a super prayer person, but I do wake up each morning thanking Him for a new day, and then throughout the day, I often lift up a prayer concerning the events and people who come to mind.  How about you?  Do you have this kind of commitment to be a “People of Prayer”?  I hope you do.