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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 101

Corporate Prayer

Matthew 18:19-20, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

It used to be that prayer night was an integral part of every congregation. It used to be that believers would come together, whether on a Monday, a Thursday, and even on what has become the holiest of days, a Friday night, just to pray and be in the presence of God.

What used to be and what is, are unfortunately two very different things, because priorities are priorities, and if we’re not the first in line to see the new theatrical release on Friday, a little bit of us dies.

For some, prayer has become a nuisance, and for others within the household of faith, it has become a quaint practice of the simple folk. Sure it’s fun to talk about, and read about, but doing it ourselves would be akin to milking a cow by hand, or plowing a field using nothing more than a hoe and a horse.

Perhaps the old fuddy-duddies needed to pray all the time, both corporately and on their own, but we are an evolved generation, who realizes there are far greater benefits in spending our time face-booking, tweeting, or surfing the web, than being in the presence of the one true God and having fellowship with Him.

And we still wonder why God isn’t moving in the churches? And we still wonder why we’re not seeing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within the congregation of God?

There can be no glory without prayer, and those who came before us knew this truth without equivocation. Although we might look down our noses on past generations, there is no denying the fact that they knew God in greater measure, on a deeper level, possessing a far greater intimacy with Him, by appropriating and incorporating prayer into their lives, than we do having jam sessions, pizza nights, and bingo nights.

Our own foolish pride will not allow us to acknowledge simple truths which would make all the difference in how we prioritize prayer and fellowship with God, because to acknowledge these truths would be to admit we were wrong, and who admits to being wrong about anything nowadays?

We have replaced corporate fellowship in the presence of God, with spiritualized versions of block parties, wherein community is emphasized, but no one is ever directed toward the ultimate goal which is Christ.

‘Everyone just come for a good time. Free pizza, free soft drinks, and we even bought a Ping-Pong table.’

I’m sold, sign me up!

And so, people attend church for a sense of belonging, a sense of community, and not to encounter Christ Jesus the Savior, not to be born again in water and Spirit, and not to be reconciled unto God.

Because men’s initial reason for attending a certain congregation is not Jesus, and because Jesus is rarely if ever preached within many churches, you have armchair theologians, and part-time philosophers whose perpetual mottos are ‘Jesus didn’t really mean that,’ and ‘I know that’s what the Bible says, but that’s not what it means.’

It is because the sheep are ignorant of the gospel of Christ, and because they have no desire to get deeper into the word of God, that doctrines such as the prosperity gospel are still widely accepted within the church.

When you outsource your spiritual nourishment, and care not a smidge about it, you are in essence dependent on the individual to whom you outsourced your spiritual succor, as far as what he chooses to feed you is concerned.

Babies know what tastes good. This is why they giggle and smile when you feed them honey, and make funny faces when you try to feed them vegetable puree. The parent’s responsibility however, is to feed the child a balanced diet, so he grows, and has enough nutrients wherein his physical body is fully functional.

I fear we have come to trust and respect certain individuals as our spiritual mentors, elders, and even fathers, only to realize they themselves are not mature enough to feed us a balanced spiritual diet, but rather, they give us what we want, all day, every day, and what we want most of the time is fluff.

I’ve been in many a church, where the pastor insisted that I preach the truth to his congregation, only to walk it back once I got started, quantifying their statement with , ‘perhaps that’s a little too much truth. I don’t think my people are ready for that quite yet. ’

The truth is that the act of prayer is a necessity both individually and corporately. It was Jesus Himself, who spoke the words, ‘where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.’

As the old adage goes, ‘if Jesus said it, I believe it,’ Yes, it is that simple. Yes, it is that cut-and-dried.

But what if two or three are gathered together, yet they are not gathered in His name? Will He still be in the midst of them? No, He will not. If Jesus specified and quantified His statement by saying ‘in My name’ then it is only when we are gathered in His name that He will be in the midst of us.

It is in the name of Jesus that we must come together; it is in the name of Jesus that we must pray, even though it may offend the divinity neutral, or the pseudo-spiritual I-believe-in-a-god-but-not-necessarily-Jesus folks among us.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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