Friday, September 07, 2007

Get Some Enthusiasm For Prayer

"Do your best ..." Paul said to Timothy (2 Tim 2:15) He was particularly encouraging this young pastor of the Ephesian church to give his all to the ministry to which he had been called and so to receive God's approval. We are all called to prayer - we are a royal priesthood created to minister to God (1 Pet 2:9). We should give of our best to prayer.

No Enthusiasm For Prayer?
I have to say that I haven't seen many churches where the members are truly enthusiastic about prayer. This is indicated by the prayer meeting which is often the most poorly attended activity of the church. Just because a church claims to be Bible-believing and evangelical doesn't mean that its members will join together to pray.

My first experience of a church prayer meeting was at a large (200+ congregation on a Sunday) evangelical Anglican church. I turned up expecting to see dozens of people. The only ones present were the vicar, the church administrator and one other member of the congregation. Another church I went to for a while had a prayer meeting which could be attended by invitation only. A third had no weekly prayer meeting at all. All these churches (in different parts of the country) at one time had a reputation for being "alive". But they lost their vitality and descended into division and dissension primarily, I believe, because the majority of the congregation were not engaged in praying together.

Giving Our Best To Prayer
If there is any activity undertaken by any group of people, the one which should be most enthusiastically pursued is Christians at prayer. I'm grateful to Christine Caine of Hillsong who pointed out that the very word "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek phrase "en theos" which means, in God. Having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ should stir up enthusiasm within us to pray both individually and corporately. If we don't have a passion for prayer there is something wrong.

Perhaps we make the mistake of thinking that if we don't feel enthusiastic or passionate we have to wait for the Holy Spirit to somehow impart this to us. If so we are missing the point. Paul told the believers at Colosse, "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart" (Col 3:23). We have to make a decision to give our best to prayer. We have to decide it is the most important thing we can do, that it undergirds every other aspect of our lives, spiritual or secular, and that we are going to pursue prayer with more enthusiasm than we have for any other activity.

Prayer College Assignment
Is it right that worldly people should be more enthusiastic about their favourite sports team, their efforts to get a promotion at work, their politics or redecorating their home than Christians are about prayer? If the root of true enthusiasm is to be "in God" should we not be far more enthusiastic about pursuing prayer? Review your prayer life. Are you giving your best to your time alone with the Lord? Are you doing all you can to spend time with other believers in prayer? Or are you someone whose enthusiasm will stir others to action (2 Cor 9:2)?

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