To the Reader: It is my intent to remind not only myself, but the body of Christ as well of the importance of prayer. This we should do both individually and corporately as believers. So, please read and consider what’s being presented in this article. This in hope that we would be the type of people that prays without ceasing. Amen.
Anyone reading the Old Testament as well as the New can clearly see that faith along with prayer is one of the key fundamentals for an effective relationship with God our Father. First, Paul the apostle said: "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3) Also, James said: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-8)
And let’s remember what our Lord Jesus Christ said: "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. (Luke 17:6) Then Jesus goes on to say: "However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) Let's hope and pray that he does brothers and sisters in Christ, for without faith we can't please God.
Now along with our faith, prayer is also one of the important essentials in our Christian walk. Jesus our Savior "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)
So, through prayer, 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 man’s 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, Jesus came to their rescue and deliver the man's son.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus said: “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers 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. So, we can see how important it is to be praying for those who don’t know Christ. 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.
Let's also remember that Jesus himself prayed to God the Father for use believers: "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 afterwards he prayed for those who would come to faith because of our preaching: "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.
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 Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4) So, first and foremost, we as a church are to pray for EVERYONE. This would not only be for loved ones and friends, but for those who hate us and mistreat us as well. hate us as well. For Jesus said: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
Also, we are to pray for those who are in governing positions as well. For they need our prayers to help them make wise choices for our good. For even those who are opposed to what is right and good need to be prayed for. For our God is a miracle working God who can even change the most stubborn heart. Therefore, let's take the time to always be in an attitude of prayer, asking God to work and intervene not only in our own lives, but the lives of others as well. Amen.
(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.” (click here to buy book)
This all 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. For even in my own life I felt the results of brothers and sisters in Christ praying for me. And let's remember that it was our prayer to God that first changed our own lives as well.
So, I encourage all of you to go through the bible and read for yourselves the prayers of God’s Saints such as Salomon, Daniel, Hannah, Abraham’s servant, and Nehemiah to name a few. All these changed not only their own lives, but the lives of others as well. And let’s also not forget about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 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 read that our Lord’s prayers were heard and thus he was victorious and became the author of our salvation. Praise God for that.
So, let us who are in Christ be praying not only for our own lives, but for the lives of others as well. Amen.
Love you all, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
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 continuing in this carnality, we are creating divisions not only in the eyes of us who are believers, but in the eyes of the world as well.
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? Is it because we think that our fellowship is better and has a greater knowledge of the truth than those down the road? 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?” (1 Corinthians 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 mocking. (Romans 2:23-24) And 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)
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 let’s face it, if we don’t 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. Those Syrian Christians groups who at one time may have questioned each other’s 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 everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:3-4)
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 don’t. (1 Corinthians 8:2) Let’s remember that Gods ways and thoughts are much higher than ours, so let’s just humble ourselves before Him and let God be God. (Isaiah 55:8) So let’s quit leaning on our own understanding of things and allow God’s Holy Spirit to teach us His truths. We must embrace the truth of his word and take upon ourselves the yoke of Jesus. This we must do in order to truly learn from him.
So, let’s always keep our eyes stayed on Lord and be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. And in all, let us remember what God’s word says to us: “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah:” (Deuteronomy 6:4 ASV). God is not divided, so nether should we who are in Christ Jesus. For Jesus 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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
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. Isn’t that what we’re called to do? Aren’t 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:
(Scriptures taken from the King James Version unless noted)
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
Some people may think that a church is the building which holds all its occupants. However, a church is not a building but an assembly of people who are gathered together in houses, barns, warehouses, or even out in an open field. For the word church in the Greek means a “gathering” or an “assembly” of people. For we read in the book of Acts: “And Barnabas went forth to Tarsus, to seek for Saul, and having found him, he brought him to Antioch, and it came to pass that they a whole year did assemble together in the assembly, and taught a great multitude, the disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch Christians.” (Acts 11:25-26 YLT) So the word “assembly” in the Young’s Literal Translation is the same word translate as church in the King James translation. So again, whether it’s translated as a “church” or the more understandable word “assembly” (which is found in the Darby version as well), we see that it’s not a building but we who are gathered together in Christ’s name.
Below are some scriptures of the bible that show that the early Church mainly met in people homes.
When I was first saved, I attended a house church where a sister in Christ gave me a Precious Promise Book that was full of encouraging scriptures. But there was one promise I never recalled seeing and that was the promise of persecution for us Christian? However, they are there, maybe not in that wonderful Precious Promise Book,” but they are in God’s word for sure. So the question is this, have we faced any persecution sense we’ve become Christians? Now, let’s consider the early church. For they didn’t gather in great man-made cathedrals or chapels, but in common places such as homes or in fields, and yes even in underground catacombs (grave chambers). This they did because there were (and still are) those who opposed our Christian faith.
So, a church shouldn’t operate like some social event with their live band and key motivational speaker, but be an active group of people instead. For we read in the scriptures that they came together to pray and encourage one another in the faith. This they did to equip themselves with the tools and strength needed to spread the gospel to the world, even in the face of persecution and death. Because let’s face it. If we’re not being persecuted in one form or another while being Christians, then are we really living our life according to the bible (yes, I’m preaching also to myself). For Paul said: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:10-12)
So, let’s make sure that we as a church are not watering down the gospel to make it more appealing and comfortable. Therefore, I encourage you to read through the New Testament, especially in the book of Act. There you will find an active church who was preaching the grace of God, even when faced with persecution. This in hopes that all would be saved by coming to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Home fellowships are an ideal place for us to come together and 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, House Churches can be a tool to help breakdown denominational barriers by bringing in your neighbors who may attend a different assembly. And if there are any unbelievers living nearby, it could be a good way to expose them to the simple basics of what a true Christian assembly 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)
Also, encouraging one another in our walk with the Lord helps us to learn and to grow in him, and small home fellowships are an ideal place for this to happen. This is because smaller fellowships take 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. 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.
Now, am I encouraging everyone to right away uproot themselves and their family from their current traditional church and find a House Church. Well, that depends on how your current church operates. For there are traditional style churches that may be geared toward prayer and evangelizing their community. However, if you’re in a church that’s not, try starting a home prayer group which encourages each other to spread the gospel. This you can do while still attending your current assembly. My wife and I hosted a church in our home which lasted several years. We did this while still going to our traditional church on Sunday. However, I personally believe we could have left the traditional church and make our home fellowship our only church. But again, I’m not against all organized assemblies, just those who are not operating according to God’s word.
So, if you are one of those who are caught in a mega churches where you can easily get lost in the crowned or stuck in some traditional church (where you sing a few songs, hear an hour long sermon and out the door you go), I encourage you to consider finding or hosting a Home Church. For how many churches have you been to that actually practices what Paul the apostle commanded. For he said: “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) Yes, prayer should be the main event within a church, along with songs and a message of exhortation.
Imagine if an unbeliever stepped into your church and found people weeping and pleading for their family, congregation, community, governing leaders, our nation and for all that are lost in this world. That person is going to realize that God is in hearts of these people, for they truly love and care for others.
* 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 the links below for more info on house churches:
(Scriptures taken from the King James Version unless noted)
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