My title is the often used excuse given to me when someone has let me down, creditors, plumbers, contributors.
"It's in the post!"
As if that makes it alright....
Jesus says, "When you pray..."
We say, "Jesus! You are the Lord of our lives , we will follow you and obey!"
Jesus says, "When you pray..."
My church secretary sends me the newsletter for the Pray for Scotland organisation firstname.lastname@example.org . I've re-printed an article from the current issue,
Praying the Price of Revival :by Stuart Robinson
Revd Dr Stuart Robinson is the Senior Pastor at the Blackburn Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia.
In 1952 Albert Einstein was asked by a Princeton doctoral student what was left in the world for original dissertation research Einstein replied, "Find out about prayer".
English preacher Sidlow Baxter, when he was eighty-five years of age, said, "I have pastored only three churches in my more than sixty years of ministry. We had revival in every one. And not one of them came as a result of my preaching. They came as a result of the membership entering into a covenant to pray until revival came. And it did come, every time (Willhite 1988:111).
Chaplain of the United States Senate, Richard HaIverson, advised that we really don"t have any alternatives to prayer. He says, You can organise until you are exhausted. You can plan, program and subsidise all your plans. But if you fail to pray it is a waste of time. Prayer is not optional. It is mandatory. Not to pray is to disobey God" (Bryant 1984:39).
Roy Pointer, after extensive research in Baptist churches in the United Kingdom, arrived at the conclusion that wherever there was positive growth, there was one recurring factor: they were all praying churches.
In the United States of America, at Larry Lea's Church on the Rock in Rockwall, Texas, numerical growth was from 13 people in 1980 to 11,000 people by 1988. When he was asked about such amazing growth, he said "I didn't start a church - I started a prayer meeting". When David Shibley, the minister responsible for prayer in that church was asked the secret of the church, he said, "The evangelistic program of the church is the daily prayer meeting. Every morning, Monday through Friday, we meet at 5:00 a.m. to pray. If we see the harvest of conversions fall off for more than a week, we see that as a spiritual red alert and seek the Lord" (ShibIey 1985:7).
In Korea, where the church has grown from almost zero to a projected 50% of the population in this century alone, Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho attributes his churchs conversion rate of 12,000 people per month as primarily due to ceaseless prayer.In Korea it is normal for church members to go to bed early so they can arise at 4 a.m. to participate in united prayer. It is normal for them to pray all through Friday nights. It is normal to go out to prayer retreats.Cho says that any church might see this sort of phenomenal growth if they were prepared to "pray the price; to "pray and obey." Cho was once asked by a local pastor why was it that Cho's church membership was 750,000 and his was only 3,000 when he was better educated, preached better sermons and even had a foreign wife ? Cho enquired, "How much do you pray? The pastor said "Thirty minutes a day." To which Cho replied, "There is your answer. I pray three to five hours per day."
In America one survey has shown that pastors on average pray 22 minutes per day. In mainline churches, it is less than that. In Japan they pray 44 minutes a day, and China 120 minutes a day. It"s not surprising that the growth rate of churches in those countries is directly proportional to the amount of time pastors are spending in prayer.
Growth - a Supernatural Process
The church is a living organism. It is God"s creation with Jesus Christ as its head (Colossians I:18). From Him life flows (John I4:6). We have a responsibility to cooperate with God (1 Corinthians 3:6). We know that unless the Lord build our house we labour in vain (Psalm 127:1). The transfer of a soul from the kingdom of darkness to that of light is a spiritual supernatural process (Colossians I : 14). It is the Father who draws (John 6:44). It is the Holy Spirit who convicts (John 16:8-1 I ). He causes confession to be made (1 Corinthians 12:3). He completes conversion (Titus 3:5). It is the Holy Spirit who also strengthens and empowers (Ephesians 3:16). He guides into truth (John 16:16). He gives spiritual gifts which promote unity (I Corinthians I2:25), building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12), thus avoiding disunity and strife which stunt growth.
This is a fundamental spiritual truth accepted and believed by all Christians. However, the degree to which we are convinced that all real growth is ultimately a supernatural process and are prepared to act upon that belief, will be directly reflected in the priority that we give to corporate and personal prayer in the life of the church. It is only when we begin to see that nothing that matters will occur except in answer to prayer that prayer will become more than an optional program for the faithful few, and instead it will become the driving force of our churches.
Obviously God wants our pastors, other leaders and His people to recognise that only He can do extra-ordinary things. When we accept that simple premise, we may begin to pray.
In the Bible, the battle which Joshua won, as recorded in Exodus 17:8-13 was not so dependent upon what he and his troops were doing down on the plain. It was directly dependent upon Moses prayerful intercession from on top of a near by hill with the support of Aaron and Hur. In the Old Testament, not counting the Psalms, there are 77 explicit references to prayer.
The pace quickens in the New Testament. There are 94 references alone which relate directly to Jesus and prayer. The apostles picked up his theme and practice. So Paul says, "Pray continually, for this is God"s will for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16)Peter urges believers to be "clear minded and self controlled" so they can pray. (1 Peter 4:7). James declares that prayer is powerful and effective" (James 5:16) John assures us that "God hears and answers" (1 John 5: 15). In the book of Acts there are 36 references to the church growing. Fifty-eight percent [i.e. 21 of those instances) are within the context of prayer.
We would all love to see growth in every church in the world like it was at Pentecost and immediately thereafter. The key to what happened is found in Acts 1:14 when it says: "They were all joined together constantly in prayer. They were all joined together - one mind, one purpose, one accord. That is the prerequisite for effectiveness. Then, they were all joined together constantly in prayer. The word used there means to be "busily engaged in, to be devoted to, to persist in adhering to a thing, to intently attend to it." And it is in the form of a present participle. It means that the practice was continued ceaselessly. The same word is used in Acts 2:42: "They devoted themselves ......to prayer." Over in Colossians 4:2 Paul uses the same word again in the imperative form "Devote yourselves to prayer.
Most significant expansion movements of the church through its history took up that imperative.
Jesus says, "When you pray..." not "If you want give this a go..."
Let's not make our response, "It's in the post!"