Word Alive! © 2023 Winter Series Living and Thriving Again! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 14 Mar. 2023, Lesson/ Chapter 4, Part 1
Thom S. Rainer, Anatomy Of A Revived Church, 2020
Quiet Time: Thom S.Rainer, Lesson/Chapter 4 (pp. 59-70)
Committing To Powerful Prayer – The renewed and revitalized life cannot occur without continuous devotion to prayer. Prayer is not a series of repeated phrases or special language; but it is persistent communication with God, through faith in Jesus Christ. While prayer permits us to make our requests to God; it is foremost, response to, and reverence for, the God of all creation. Observe this dual nature of prayer, given in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul urges Christians: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT). We should note that prayer brings us into maturity with God through our faith in Jesus Christ! This understanding of prayer determines whether we grow, mature, and thrive, as Christians; or, if we falter in our relationship with Christ. The disciples failed to grasp the “urgency” of prayer, during a time Jesus needed them most to join Him in prayer. Albeit, the disciples were weary themselves; they, like many of us, abandoned the discipline of prayer, and succumbed to their immediate human urgings (Read, Luke 22:45-46, NLT). In another Gospel account of the beleaguered disciples; upon finding them asleep instead of praying, Jesus said, “Keep watch and pray so that you will not give in to temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (See, Matthew26:41, NLT). In his helpful book, Anatomy of A Revived Church, Thom Rainer, comments: “Of course, we theologically know the power of prayer. That is to say, we believe it but don’t always practice it. The tyranny of the urgent replaces the priorities of God.” Despite our human weaknesses and strivings, prayer is fundamental to the need of the human spirit. The earliest stages of worship were the recognition of God as sovereign Lord; and, centered on sacrifice and prayer. (Read, Genesis 4:30, NLT). In our day, an understanding of prayer should exceed recitation and familiar phrases. At the core of prayer, is submission to the will of God. Spiritual maturity, Christian formation and the revitalization of the Body of Christ, is dependent on persistent and prevailing prayer. The prayer life of Jesus was vital to His ministry: “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (See, Mark 1:35, NLT). That verse is preceded and followed by a very hectic ministry Jesus engaged in! Jesus also taught, how urgent prayer is; and how persistent we must be in prayer (Read, Luke 18:1-8, NLT).
Committing To Powerful Prayer, Part 2 – Prayer further, is about our relationship with God. Jesus illustrates this well in the prayer he prayed when He was preparing for His atoning death on the cross. Jesus first spoke about His relationship with the Heavenly Father. He then spoke of His gratitude for the mission God had given Him in discipling followers to take His message into the world. We note, that Jesus recognizes and honors God the Father, for all He has attempted to do during His earthly ministry. Jesus prays for the “protection and care” of His followers, and for their unity as believers (cf. John 17:11, NLT). Even in this prayer, also known as the Hight Priestly Prayer,” Jesus provides some teaching elements about sustaining the true nature of the Church, through attaining unity within the fellowship. The initial empowerment of the church, and the revitalization of Christian lives, in every era, have come as a result of committed prayer (Read, Acts 1:12-13a; 14, NLT). Pastor and Author Thom Rainer says he has witnessed the turnaround of thousands of churches. There was no instance where he did not encounter “a few people” who demonstrated “a passion to pray for the revitalization of people and ministries.” We must avoid the temptation to measure the health and life potential of our churches only by numbers. In the Scriptures, we will see that living and thriving as Christians is dependent on the commitment of a persistent and pervasive prayer life. We clearly witness the efficacy and power of prayer in the early New Testament Church (cf. Read, Acts 4:23-24;31, NLT). Comparative to our times, these were small fellowships, which accomplished great things! Dr. Rainer advises: “The big danger is succumbing to the suggestion that low numbers equal failure. In almost every church revitalization, prayer was the instrument God used, and he honored the consistent and persistent prayers.” While there are some Church practices and cultural rituals which have exhausted their time; the perpetual discipline Christ has given us to sustain life and the Church is “prayer”. We must never stop praying (Read, I Thessalonians 5:16-22, NLT). Christ has made it possible for every Christian to enter God’s throne room (Read, Hebrews 4:16, NLT). This is our spiritual privilege!
________________________KEY IDEA ________________________
What We Believe!
“There must be powerful prayer to precede and bring real change.
1. Persistent prayer is necessary to revitalize life and the Church.
2. We must have a passion for prayer; and lead others to pray!
Luke 22:45-46, NLT
“At last He stood up again and returned to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. “Get up and pray so that you will not give in to temptation.”
Genesis 4:30, NLT
“When Seth grew up he had a son and named him Enosh. At that time people began to worship the Lord by name.”
Luke 18:1-8, NLT
“One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” He said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’ Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? But I tell you, He will grant justice to them quickly. But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on earth who have faith?”
John 17:11, NLT
“Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.”
Acts 1:12-13a;14, NLT
“Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying…They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women and the brothers of Jesus.”
Acts 4:23-24; 31, NLT
“As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. When they heard the report all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God… After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word with boldness.”
I Thess. 5:16-22, NLT “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.”
Hebrews 4:16, NLT “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”