Have you ever noticed how much Jesus prays? Pressed on every side with needs and demands, He constantly pulls away from the crowds to spend time with His Father in prayer. He never allows the urgencies of the world to tyrannize His day. Prayer always takes priority.
When Jesus pulls away to pray, he sometimes goes alone, but very often he invites others to join him. For instance, just before the Transfiguration, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John on a mountain to pray with Him (Luke 9:28). On the night before His crucifixion, he takes his disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray (Matthew 26:36). Jesus regularly prayed with others.
It’s no surprise then that the early church took up that same devotion to prayer. Listening to the Apostles teaching, fellowshipping around meals, and praying with and for one another; these were the means through which the church community thrived (Acts 2:42-47). When they gathered for prayer (Acts 3:1, 4:23-31, 6:1-5, 12:1-11), they prayed for all sorts of things—physical healing, provision for the poor, spiritual protection, nations and rulers, the preached Word, and the growth of the gospel. Like children to a Father, the early church took everything to the Lord in prayer together.
Clearly, prayer was the lifeblood of the early church. They knew that no significant work of God should be expected apart from the work of prevailing prayer. That prayer is the means God most often uses to bring about renewal and revival in the church. Since this is true, there’s simply no way to overestimate the importance of prayer.
Believing all this, a small band of folks from Cornerstone approached the elders two years ago about a desire to start a prayer ministry. They noticed we prayed faithfully in worship, in our men and women’s Bible studies, in our Home Fellowship Groups, and seasonally on Wednesday nights as a whole church. But they also noticed that we didn’t have a good way to gather in one place the needs of the body. Further, they noticed that we didn’t have a dedicated group of members who were regularly devoting their gifts, attention, and energy to praying for the needs of the church and the world.
In 2016, that began to change. Endeavoring to become a church more and more marked by prayer, the prayer ministry team was born. Since that time, men and women of various ages and stages have given countless hours to the receiving, compiling, updating, and praying for a wide range of critical prayer needs in our body, our local community, our nation, and around the world.
Permit me to share one recent personal story. When the onslaught of seasonal allergies descended on me last week and I began to lose my voice, I sent a text to the elders to ask them to pray for my health. Jim Payne, Chairman of the Prayer Team, sent my prayer request on to the prayer team. Within two hours, I had e-mail encouragements and prayers (as well as some helpful medical advice!) from several members of the prayer team. How great is that!
We want to see testimonies like mine to increase throughout our body! To that end, let me challenge you. What is it that you need prayer for right now? Identify just one thing. Now ask yourself, “Have I asked anyone to pray for me about this?” If the answer to that question is no, then right now stop and send the request to the prayer team by either writing it down on the prayer card in the pew rack in front of you or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In a matter of hours, you’ll have a dozen people lifting you up by name before the throne of grace.
Let’s covenant together to open up our lives in prayer and become more and more a church marked by a devotion to prayer.