It is sort of an unwritten "rule" that the Wednesday night church crowd are the truly committed ones. My experience and observation has indicated that perhaps they are committed to attendance, but not necessarily to prayer. Wednesday night prayer time is often treated as something that needs to be gotten out of the way so that we can get to our Bible lesson, choir practice, and then home. Prayer is not the priority, it is one of many small priorities.
Can a church without prayer as a priority survive? To narrow the scope, can a Christian without prayer as a priority survive? The "pat" response here would be, "Well, no, of course not." Good answer, but is it the right one? I believe that Christians, and even churches can SURVIVE without prayer, but they cannot THRIVE.
The question begs to be answered: Do we want our churches to THRIVE, or merely SURVIVE?
I can only answer for myself. I want to thrive. I really do. I want my church to thrive. I want the life of Christ to spread like wildfire in our church and community. I want my home to thrive. It is not. Neither is my church, community, or my own personal prayer life. I think I know why.
Last Sunday at dinner with my wife and our kids, I asked if anyone would like to ask the blessing. One of the children enthusiastically offered to do it. We bowed our heads, and the blessing was, "Thanks for the food. Amen." I suddenly got religious. I was appalled. How dare they insult God our Father with such an empty prayer! And a pastor's child at that! Well, a stepchild anyway.
As the meal progressed, I hardly spoke to anyone. It dawned on me that some of my own prayers were not as sincere as, "Thanks for the food. Amen." I began to realize that my own prayer life was dull, lifeless, intense in times of struggle, and generally pointless. I knew I wanted more than that, but all my prayers are usually focused on needing things from God. Many times it is needing things, asking for things, and not getting them. My prayer life is a cycle of hope and disappointment, with seemingly no real power.
I have always made this statement: "We don't need prayer in the schools, we need it in the home and in the church." As the pastor of a church, I believe that my personal prayer life will have a direct impact on that of my church family. The same is true of my home. I want to break the cycle of asking, hoping, and being let down, but how?
So, I guess I will go to Prayer Meeting tonight and play along until I experience a breakthrough of sorts. The fact that the Lord is dealing with me on the issue of my prayerlife indicates that a breakthrough is imminent.
Stay tuned, and let's keep praying...