Along with our faith in God, prayer is one of the important essentials in our Christian walk. Jesus "spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" as did the apostle Paul saying for us to: "Pray without ceasing.” (Luke 18:1, 1Thessalonians 5:17) Jude said to be: "building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.” as well as James telling us to: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (Jude 1:20, James 5:16)
Anyone reading the Old Testament as well as the New can clearly see that prayer, along with our faith, is one of the key fundamentals for an effective relationship with our Maker. And it's through faith and prayer that we can partner with God and change not only our own lives, but the lives of others as well. On the other hand, our lacking in this can have a negative effect as well. We can see this to be true when the disciples asked Jesus why they themselves could not cast the devil out of a manʼs son. For Jesus said: “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20- 21) So we can see that the disciples could not cast the devil out because of their lacking in faith and prayer. Thankfully, they had Jesus come to their rescue to deliver the man's son.
THE HARVEST IS TRULY GREAT
Jesus said: 6“The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) Wow, did you grasp that? Jesus is telling us to ask God to send people out to share the Gospel. Now, does this mean that no one would be saved if we don't pray for this to happen? Also, would we still be unbelievers if others didn't pray for us as well? Only God Himself knows that answer. However, just look out in the harvest fields (the world) and see all the people who need to be harvested into God's Kingdom. We need to bring the gospel message to them so that they may have eternal life as well.
JESUS PRAYED FOR US
Let's remember what Jesus also said while praying to the Father for those who believed: "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” (John 17:9) And then afterward he prayed for us as well when he said: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21) So, Jesus was praying for those who believed and for those who would believe their report. So again, this is a call for action on our part today as well, for we are to share the Gospel with those around us.
PRAY FOR ALL PEOPLE
We are also reminded of what Paul said to Timothy: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4) So let's take the time to always be in an attitude of prayer, asking God to work and intervene not only in our own life, but the lives of others as well.
You have Not, Because you Ask Not (Excerpt From: Torrey, R.A. “The Power of Prayer.”)
You will find these seven words in James 4:2, the seven closing words of the verse, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” These seven words contain the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of the average Christian, of the average minister, and of the average church. “Why is it,” many a Christian is asking, “that I make such poor progress in my Christian life? Why do I have so little victory over sin? Why do I win so few souls to Christ? Why do I grow so slowly into the likeness of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” And God answers in the words of the text: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
“Why is it,” many a minister is asking, “that I see so little fruit from my ministry? Why are there so few conversions? Why does my church grow so slowly? Why are the members of my church so little helped by my ministry, and built up so little in Christian knowledge and life?” And again God replies: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
“Why is it,” both ministers and churches are asking, “that the church of Jesus Christ is making such slow progress in the world today? Why does it make so little headway against sin, against unbelief, against error in all its forms? Why does it have so little victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil? Why is the average church member living on such a low plane of Christian living? Why does the Lord Jesus Christ get so little honor from the state of the church today?” And, again, God replies: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
This all this being said, how much time do we on a personal level spend in prayer? Or, even on a corporate level as a church, how often do we get together and go to prayer before God? Could it be true that we as Christians put other agendas and activities before prayer? For according to God's word, prayer should not be a weekly or bye weekly thing, but a daily activity for us. For I can tell you from my own personal experience that there is nothing more important than our time in prayer. And let's remember that it was our prayer to God that first changed our own lives as well.
So, I encourage you to go through the bible and read for yourselves some of the prayers of Godʼs Saints such as Salomon, Daniel, Hannah, Abrahamʼs servant, and Nehemiah to name a few. All these changed lives and the course of history through their prayers and faith in God. Let us also not forget about our Savior Jesus Himself: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9) So we see that Jesus through prayer was heard and was victorious and became the author of our salvation. So, if Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we. Amen
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20)
We as Christians can spend so much time debating and lecturing about this and that, getting caught up in our talk over Calvinism, Arminianism, post- tribulation, pre-tribulation, are we saved before baptism or during, and on it may go. We then build our churches with their own sets of rules, views and traditions, creating denominational organizations complete with their own names of distinction. Well, is this not true? Don't we label ourselves as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Assembly of God, Nazarenes and Church of Christ just to name a few?
And let's not forget about those Churches that consider themselves "nondenominational" but yet are part of an Association of Churches. Even these churches have duplicated themselves with their own name of distinction along with their own set of rules and views. All these are causing a division within the body of Christ and making the church look confusing, not only to us Christians, but to the world as well.
Now, please don't get me wrong. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ who attend these churches. And to make things even clearer, I myself attend or even have attended some of these churches. However, by us continually allowing these names of distinction, we are creating divisions not only in the eyes of us believers, but in the eyes of the world as well.
ONE TRUE CHURCH
According to the word of God, there is to be no divisions within the body of Christ. We are to be the one true Church, and this would include all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. But, as noted above, there are so many church Denominations and Associations that are causing divisions among Christians. And why is that? Could it be because we think we have a better handle on the truth than the fellowship down the street? I do believe so, for why else would we do it? God's word sums it up best where it says: "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1Corinthians 1:11-13)
Now it may be true that we love our Lord and Savior from the heart. We may also be totally sincere in our faith as Christians, praying and reaching out to the lost and other believers as well. (Mark 16:15) However, at the same time we are building these invisible walls of separation. And the sad part of it all, we do it in plain view of the world who is watching and maybe even 2mocking. (Romans 2:23-24)
Please Note: If we examine most of the early churches in the New Testament, we would see that they were only referred to according to their locality such as a name of the city or of a person who owned the house. So, these types of labeling was not to show a distinction from one another but to aid the reader to understand their locality. (Romans 16:3-5, 1Corinthians 1:11, 16:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, Philemon 1:2)
LEARNING UNITY THE HARD WAY
So, God calls us to be one in Christ and to dwell in unity with fellow believers. Jesus prayed for this Christian unity so that the world may see our love for one another and thus recognize that he truly came from the Father and that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. And this unity can only be truly accomplished if we obey God by breaking down these dividing walls that we have made. Because letʼs face it, if we donʼt do it God may do it, and that in such a way we could never have imagined. (John 17:20-23)
The Syrian Christians were praying for revival and believing that God would do a great work in their land. They like us had their churches along with their different denominations. And then came the war with its bombings and terrorists. Churches were destroyed and down came their denominational barriers that separated believers. Syrian Christians groups who at one time may have questioned each others salvation are now gathering for weekly prayers, asking God to move in their nation and in their churches. Now, these same Christians continue to spread hope in the face of hopelessness, holding high not a political or denominational banner but the banner of Jesus Christ. (see video link in the reference area below)
And let’s not forget what happened when persecution broke out against the early church as described in the book of Acts. For we read that: “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” So we see that persecution doesn’t stop the spread of the Gospel, but only increases it. (Acts 8:3-4)
JUST A REMINDER
We cannot put God in our own little theological box. Yes, sometimes we get up on our little “soap box” and act like we know everything, but the truth of the matter is we donʼt. (1 Corinthians 8:2) Let’s remember that Godʼs ways and thoughts are much higher than ours, so letʼs just humble ourselves before Him and let God be God. (Isaiah 55:8) So let us quit leaning on our own understanding of things and allow his Holy Spirit to teach us his truths. We must embrace the truth of his word, and take upon ourselves the yoke of Jesus so that we can truly learn from him. For it’s only when we keep our eyes stayed on him, can we truly be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. And in all, let us remember what his word says to us: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. So, if this is true with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then we likewise must be in unity with our God and with each other. Amen. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
So, let us put away our own petty differences and all those things that can cause divisions and strife and seek the truth of God's word. For only in doing so can we find true biblical oneness and unity. For we are that 9one body in the Lord with its many members who are called to function as a whole. (1 Corinthians 12:12) There is a world of people out there who need to hear the gospel and we are to be the salt and a light to them. Isnʼt that what weʼre called to do? Arenʼt we supposed to spread the love of Christ to the lost out there so that they may have eternal life too? So, let us fulfill our Lord's Prayer by being one in Him and fulfill the great commission which is sharing the Gospel with the world. We need to learn from His Holy Spirit as Christ shows us the way. Amen (Mark 16:15)
Reference from article above:
"For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1Corinthians 1:11-13)
SMALL GROUP GATHERINGS
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
Church Home Groups are an ideal place for us to come together for fellowship. Within these smaller gatherings, we can focus on personal prayer needs as well as for those around the world. This is something we can't normally do when we're attending a large traditional church on Sunday. For it can be hard to fellowship and get our prayer needs met when things are running on a schedule time limit. Also, home groups can be a tool to help breakdown denominational barriers by bringing in your neighbors who may attend a different church. And if there are any unbelievers living nearby, it could be a good way to expose them to the simple basics of what a church is all about. For even our Savior Jesus met and preached in homes at times. (Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 10:38-42 and more…)
A PLACE TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
Encouraging one another in our walk with the Lord helps us to learn and to grow in him. Small Home Church Groups are an ideal place for this to happen because it takes us out of the impersonal and brings us into the personal. Within these smaller groups, we can have group interactions by asking questions as we read and study the Bible together. This is so true. And just think, no denominational walls, no church overhead to pay for, and no large staff that's relying on money from parishioners. Its church in the simplest and purest form.
GETTING BACK TO BASICS
Now, I'm not encouraging anyone to right away uproot their family from their current church. For there are some traditional churches that are small enough to have that home group feel. But on the other hand, if you are caught in one of those traditional churches who emphases preaching and church activities above prayer, it may be best to breaking away from it and find a "house church" instead. Because in most traditional churches, it’s all about listening to some pastor preach a weekly sermon. For we must remember that the early church did not meet in traditional large church buildings like ours today, but in people’s homes where they encouraged and prayed for each other.
WHAT ARE SOME GOOD FUNDAMENTAL BASICS FOR A HOME GROUP?
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM ONE ANOTHER?
WHAT IS THE MAIN BELIEVES THAT THE LEADERSHIP SHOULD STAND ON?
Click on this links below for more info on house churches:
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise [greet] the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. (Romans 16:3-5)