If I preached a sermon with this title the reaction would no doubt range from puzzlement to horror!
Of course we know it is important for the church to pray, it’s just that we don’t always translate what we say we believe into action.
Why is it so important for a church to pray?
Firstly, it is an apostolic requirement.
Paul and Peter urged early Christians to pray. Paul instructed Timothy to teach the church to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2.1), making it a matter of first priority. He commanded the Colossians to devote themselves to prayer (Colossians 4.2). As the end approached Peter counselled the church to be alert so that you may pray (1 Peter 4.7). Prayer was a major driver in the life of the early church. We have no reason to believe that somehow God has reduced its importance.
Secondly, praying people take seriously the reality of spiritual conflict.
Paul ends his teaching on spiritual spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6 with a call to pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (v.18). There is a real spiritual battle going on and prayer is a major weapon in our armoury.
Thirdly, praying people reshape the world.
That might sound like a bold statement. However you only have to look at the experience of an Abraham, a Moses, the Lord Himself or the early church to see the world shaping potential of prayer. One story that illustrates this perfectly is found in Acts 12. Peter was in prison. The church prayed. And the Holy Spirit did some jail breaking. Peter is miraculously delivered and by the end of the chapter Herod is dead. I’d call that changing the world! And all because the people prayed!
Jesus once told a story about a persistent widow (Luke 18). Luke explains that He told the story to show that people should always pray and not give up (v.1). The Living Bible expresses it like this: “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes.”
Let’s keep praying until the answer comes.