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“Prayer is vital.Where else are we going to get the wisdom, strength, guidance, and power we need to carry out God’s work?”
Even in our secular society, people pray. As a matter of fact, research tells us that high numbers of people pray each week outside of a church setting.
What kinds of prayers are they praying? We can only guess. Two normal types of prayers are memorized prayers such as “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” and crisis prayers: “God, help me!”
While rote prayers can be meaningful, they can also be super-stitious—like rubbing a rabbit’s foot or looking for a four-leaf clover to bring good luck. People may begin to think that if they pray a particular prayer something good will happen, and if they don’t pray that prayer, something bad will happen.
Crisis prayers, on the other hand, come from somewhere deep inside. When human beings are stripped of a sense of control, they cry out to God. They believe that there is a greater power who will listen and help in times of need.
Unfortunately, once the crisis is over, people often stop praying.
Not to discount these kinds of prayers, it is good to think of memorized prayers and crisis prayers as a first stage of prayer. They demonstrate a desire to communicate with God that can lead to even deeper and more personal conversation with our heavenly Father. Like the awkward stage of getting to know someone, at first the give-and-take is basic, but as the relationship continues, the conversations become more meaningful.
This is the way it is with prayer. At first, prayers are self-conscious and fundamental, but as people grow in their relationship with God, prayer becomes a rich encounter with the heavenly Father. Many people in our church are expressing a growing desire to experience God more through prayer.
One indication is that over the past two years, more than two hundred people have attended a six-week class called “When God’s People Pray” (based on the book and DVD series by Brooklyn Tabernacle Pastor Jim Cymbala).
Chris and Sue Finch, who have been attending Wheaton Bible Church for eight years, are passionate about the importance of prayer. That’s why they have become “catalysts” for prayer in our church and why they have led the When God’s People Pray class since 2010.
Their hope is that the people of Wheaton Bible Church will see prayer in all its beauty and power.
“Prayer is so much more than asking God for things,” says Sue, “Prayer at its foundation is a conversation with our Father. We have so much to learn from God about this wonderful privilege.
“Like human conversation, prayer involves both speaking and listening. It involves honoring God, confessing our sins to Him, listening to His Holy Spirit, remembering and claiming the promises of Scripture, and engaging in spiritual warfare.”
Sue’s enthusiasm about prayer comes through as she talks about the different ways people can pray. “You can sit, kneel, stand, or even pace,” she said.
“People can pray alone or in groups. When people are in a group, they can pray one at a time or all at the same time. They can come to the front of the church and receive prayer on a Sunday morning, or they can come to the front and kneel, seeking God’s face. There is so much to prayer!”
Many of those who have joined Sue and Chris’s class have also grown passionate about prayer.
“Prayer is vital,” Jeanne Utterback says. “Where else are we going to get the wisdom, strength, guidance, and
power we need to carry out God’s work? Our relationship with God is our lifeline and ‘relationship’ means we spend
time with Him, that we talk to Him.”
Dave Moore said, “Prayer is the most important thing a believer can be involved in with the life of the church.”
“Prayer is the power that advances His church and takes back enemy territory in the hearts of Christians, in our neighborhoods, and in the world,” Karen Arenz adds.
Jeremiah 33:3 records a message straight from God to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who was at that time imprisoned by the king: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” The Lord says this to us today. When we talk to Him in prayer, He says, He will answer.
When we ask God for wisdom, when we ask Him to change our situations, when we ask Him for the ability to endure, He promises that He will hear us and respond.
Pastor Jim Cymbala, author of When God’s People Pray, says, “If we do not yearn and pray and expect God to stretch out his hand and do the supernatural, it will not happen. That is the simple truth of the matter. We must give him room to operate.”
Many of the people of Wheaton Bible Church are eager to give God that room.
Prayer is the key to unleashing God’s power to live the Christian life and do the ministry of the church.