Denver L. Thomas
Why do we pray? How do we pray? For what do we pray? We need to seek Biblical guidance for answers to such questions. We might look at some specifics.
A favorite scripture is found in James 5:16 where it tells us, “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.” Webster defines effectual as “producing an intended effect” and fervent as “marked by great intensity of feeling.” Does this not suggest that proper praying requires great personal involvement?
Paul, in writing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 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.” In this context we can see the need to pray that we might live peaceably with all men. Such an environment also allows for freedom of worship and spreading the Good News.
It has been suggested that today’s church has gone into hiding. Church growth has slowed considerably in recent times—we are no longer the fastest growing—what a difference just one generation can make. We seem to have lost sight of the unsaved of the world as we do our preaching and teaching in safe havens behind closed doors to those who already know and have obeyed. Countering false teaching is no longer our practice—debates are a thing of the past. We no longer see the need to go in search of the lost. We have found numerous ways to downplay the commands “to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
In connection with this, a brother suggested to me “the duty of a preacher is to edify the church.” If the brother is suggesting that this is the only duty of a preacher, he is wrong. The duty of a preacher is, in the first place, to preach the saving gospel to a world lost in sin. In the second place, he is to edify the church - the saved. Think of it this way—If we preach and teach only to the church, how long will it be before there is no church to which to preach and teach? What does Matthew 28:19-20 say? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
In Matthew 9:36-38 we read, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” In this setting, we see Jesus asking that those about Him become involved in the lives of those about them. When He said, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest,” was He not seeking their collective help?
How about us, today? Should we not be praying “that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” and apply the same thought that James provided in James 5:16? We would do well to remember, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” We simply cannot stand aloof and expect good things to result. I cannot recall a recent prayer calling for church growth. We need to bring the church to the forefront once again and actively seek the lost. It is only in that way that we can expect the church to flourish and to grow numerically. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Should we not be aiding in this effort? How shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14.
We need to be carrying the Word to the lost! So let us pray for growth and so act!
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” -PO Box 821, Milton, WV 25541.
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