Becoming A House Of Prayer
“…For My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”. Isaiah 56:7
Our world is under attack and it is past time for the church to get in battle mode. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul reminds us “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Our fight is not on the earthly plain where political, social, and economic problems exist, but in the heavenly realm where principalities and powers seek to distract us, disarm us, and divide us. Prayer is the weapon of mass destruction that will demolish Satan’s reign of terror and empower the church to display the fullness of Christ’s glory in a world that desperately needs to see it.
Churches must become intentional about making prayer a priority. It won’t happen by accident. It will take focused, persistent, and deliberate action to encourage every segment of a congregation to adopt a personal lifestyle of prayer. It can’t be just a church program, it must become incorporated into the daily spiritual discipline of every believer if a congregation will experience the corporate bonfire that transforms lives and communities. God wants to turn a church’s prayer ministry into a house of prayer.
For some in a church, prayer is as natural as eating or breathing. For others it is a foreign and unfamiliar practice that is reserved for the super-saints. Therefore, church leadership must seek to provide ongoing prayer education, teach prayer strategies to new members, create prayer guides, send out prayer prompts to members via email, preach an annual series on prayer, and demonstrate it in creative ways in the worship service by using all generations.
At Peace Baptist Church, prayer did not become important to the church until it was important to me as the pastor. In Acts 6, the apostles understood that they needed to protect their time for preaching and prayer. Likewise, a corporate eruption of prayer will not burst forth in the church until it emits from the lives of the members in their homes and hearts. Therefore, start encouraging personal prayer just as aggressively as you put energy into launching a corporate prayer initiative. A spark in church member’s homes will set the church ablaze!
Prayer must be evident in the pastor’s study, the member’s home, the board room, and in the corporate worship setting. Isaiah 56:7 declares, “God’s house will be called a house of prayer.” Prayer can’t be an add-on in worship, used as a transition tool to move from one segment to the next, or viewed as a habitual duty. Corporate prayer must be the primary reason the church actually gathers. There is a difference between a church with a prayer ministry and one that functions as a house of prayer. The former is based on programs, schedules, formats, and processes. A house of prayer has these same elements but does not delegate the prayer emphasis to a special group in the church. Prayer is the responsibility and expectation for the entire congregation and should be visible, powerful, and effectual in the worship setting. Prayer requests are publicly offered and the miraculous answers to those prayers are celebrated constantly.
Once the worship service ends, the real work of prayer begins as the congregants enter the mission field. The church is responsible to the community to cover it and its residents in prayer. Conduct frequent prayer walks to intercede for the community. Pray over each school in your area and the staff and families that attend. You may want to assign a small group to adopt the school as a prayer focus. Prayer prepares the soil for the Spirit of God to reap a harvest each time we preach, go in our community, or attempt to reach the world with the Gospel.
The prayer ministry at Peace has been the ministry that has undergirded every ministry and member of our church. Peace Baptist, like all churches, has faced difficult seasons that require tremendous faith to fulfill the church’s mission and calling. For over 28 years, the prayers of the saints have given hope in times of sickness, lifted sorrow in times of death, provided encouragement when vision was clouded, and is the indispensable component that has kept our church together through the years as we trust Christ. Thank God for the committed prayer leaders over the years that have helped guide us into becoming a house of prayer. As pastor, I owe my ministry to these faithful men and women who built our church on their knees. I pray you will unleash this power to advance your mission.