I got the email just a few days ago. A friend of mine, a missionary, was challenging his readers to prayer. “There has never been a revival without the concentrated prayers of God’s people,” he wrote. His impassioned plea for prayer was convicting–and exhausting. “Oh great,” I thought. “Another thing I have to do.”
From the early church to the Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards to the more recent ministry of Concerts of Prayer, there is little doubt that prayer plays a huge role in the work God does in a church or community. I believe it. I’ve seen it work. I’ve been part of it. I promote it. When we first moved to NYC in 1985 the church in the city seemed stagnant and flat. That’s not to say there was nothing happening. It just didn’t seem to be happening to any great degree. In 1987 a prayer movement began among pastors and leaders from the various boroughs. It started in the church where I was a staff pastor. I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. What has happened to the Church in the city since then is truly amazing. There have been hundreds of church plants and a good deal of social justice initiatives. I’m no church historian, but I really believe prayer was at least part of the catalyst.
But here’s the caveat: when prayer is seen as just another thing we do to achieve church growth, success, or our goals, then we’re missing the boat. Prayer brings us into presence of God. What we want in prayer is God himself, not just Gods gifts or Gods blessing. I’m all for prayer and I want us to pray more as a congregation, but what I want more than prayer is God. I want Cornerstone church to be a God saturated church where Jesus is exalted every single day of every single week, and especially on Sundays. When we want Jesus, and God, and God’s ways, we’ll be driven to pray. “Oh God, be gracious to us, we long for you,” prays Isaiah the prophet (Isa 33:2).
So its true that I want Cornerstone to be a praying church. But more than that, I believe that we’ll become a praying church when we become a God saturated church. The more we love the God who sent his son to die for us, the more we’ll want him and we’ll join Isaiah’s cry, “…we long for you!” Long for God and the prayer that connects you to him—and drives revivals and movements of his Spirit—will become easier, more intense, more desired, more frequent, and more focused.