Personally, I’m a history guy…always have been and always will be. Now I know that with that statement I just lost some of you, but hang with me for a second…
When you look at the relationship between God and man throughout the history of the world there’s the undeniable pattern of mankind moving towards God and then man moving back away. It’s like a terrible rhythm that we have been stuck in throughout the story line of the humanity that we just can’t seem to get out of. This “rhythm” is seen in Israel’s story in the Old Testament, church history in the New Testament, in modern church expressions, and in different chapters of our own personal story.
The subject of prayer and communion with God seems to be right in the middle of all of this…people leave the place of prayer and communion with God, people find themselves in a desperate place and return back to the place of prayer and communion with God. People leave God by leaving prayer, people leaving prayer always leave God. So my heart asks, “what if the body of Christ would make the priority of our churches never leaving the place of prayer and intimacy with Jesus?” Sounds like a no brainer right? Except that when you look at the spiritual landscape today, churches that pray, and people that pray are more rare than they are common. Is there still a faithful remnant? No question about it…probably a larger remnant than any of us know or comprehend. But the challenge of prayerlessness in our local church communities remains in front of us.
Over the past few years as we have started to explore having a culture of prayer as the center-piece of local church life at Destiny, and there have been other believers in our region that have begun to identify us as the “praying church.” Is it really supposed to stick out as something unique? According to scripture, “praying church” is really a linguistic redundancy as Jesus sees His church as a people of continual prayer and communion. “My house shall be a house of prayer for all the nations.” Local church = culture of prayer.
I believe that Jesus is dreaming of people that desire to be near to His heart and create environments that center around communing with and loving Him. I also believe that prayer-less expressions of Christianity can be debated as legitimate expressions of Christianity and here’s why. Paul tells us that the church is a body that is maturing and growing up into the Head, Christ Jesus. A praying church is a church that’s pressing into the Head. A prayer-less church is a headless body. A prayer-less church is literally a body that’s lost its mind. God is doing some unprecedented things in our day and is calling His body back to Himself in a radical way, giving His people their mind back!
Back to history for one last second…the Church leaves Jesus by leaving prayer. And at the same time, the Church rediscovers Jesus by rediscovering prayer. There have been many chapters throughout the human story where God’s people do return to their First Love and once again find great joy in a culture of prayer and worship. In other words, “praying church” becomes the normal expression of the Jesus’ body once again…they get their mind back. If it’s happened before it can happen again, and I believe it is happening in our day and in our time. Let’s embrace with boldness what God is doing in this hour and grow-up into the Head Christ Jesus!