On Prayerlessness

Corporate Prayer is the holy, singular & united act of the body of Christ of earnest worship, intercession, petition, entreaty and request before God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is a working definition.  I’m not seeking to coin it or make it the standard by any means.  I do feel that it encompasses the focus of my message. 

Singular –
c.1340, "alone, apart," from O.Fr. singuler "single, separate" (Fr. singulier), from L. singularis "single, solitary," from singulus (see single (adj.)). Meaning "remarkably good, unusual, rare" is from c.1400, though this was a common meaning of L. singularis.   

Earnest –
O.E. eornoste (adj.) from a noun eornost "passion, zeal" (surviving only in the phrase in earnest), from P.Gmc. *ern "vigor, briskness" (cf. O.H.G. arnust "struggle," Goth. arniba "safely," O.N. jarna "fight, combat") The proper name Ernest (lit. "resolute") is from the same root.

Since we started this series on prayer, how many of you have witnessed your prayer life increase in holy, singular & earnest significance?

If it hasn’t, then we need to re-evaluate what is the persistent obstacle to prayer. 

The following are questions I’d like to share with you.  You may consider them a bit outlandish, but I assure you that there may be some readers who may definitely identify with these issues and/or similar concerns. 

What impedes my prayer life?

Was I raised to pray? 

Do I see prayer as difficult, esoteric and not worthwhile?

Is it the building where we meet?  Does that somehow make prayer difficult for me? 

Are there any negative connotations regarding prayer that seem to impede your ability to pray?  Is it what Pentecostals do and not Brethren, for instance?

Do you feel that the issues of prayer are to be addressed in private and without the need to expect or pressure a congregation to be more intentional in its corporate prayer mandate? 

Do you feel that too much about prayer is for more conservative Christians?

I can tell you that I have struggled in this town with the getting people excited about prayer.  I don’t know what it is really. 

I tell people about my being involved in prayer movements and so on and they always seem so interested and almost in awe.  There’s a respect that is expressed over the whole idea of prayer.  But there’s a seven-mile bridge between the respect that apparently people have (Christians included) for prayer and the actual exercise and practice of prayer. 

According to Wesley L. Duewel, there are 4 key blessings that come from united prayer.  In his classic book on prayer, Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Duewel identifies the following blessings: 

(1) The spirit of prayer is deepened. 

(2) Love of the brethren and unity is intensified.

(3) Faith is strengthened.

(4) Spiritual power is multiplied. 

We can safely deduce that in the absence of prayer, the spirit of prayer will significantly diminish.  The bonds of affection and love within the community will greatly suffer.  Faith will be hindered and the power promised to the Church faithful will be extinguished.

The sin of prayerlessness is the absence of united prayer by a community who claims to be united in Christ Jesus.  If we claim to be the body and yet do not walk in the light as He is in the light, we lie.  We do not practice the truth. 

So, how do we address prayerlessness? 

How can we combat prayerlessness? 

How can we become a praying community? 

I believe we are called to wrestle with the issue of primacy of prayer in our lives – both individually and corporately.

Wrestling suggests we struggle, sacrifice, combat, feel hurt, pain and experience exhilaration as we approach inevitable victory in Christ.  For the wrestle in the arena of prayer is to find certain victory.  It is the nature of the process that requires being put through a spiritual crucible. 

Duewel offers the following reflections on prayer wrestling:

Wrestling -

(1) Helps us realize our dependency on God.

(2) Helps us share Christ’s heart.

(3) Teaches us spiritual alertness.

(4) Teaches us spiritual passion and vehemence.

(5) Teaches us the secret of triumphant overcoming.

(6) Strengthens our faith.

(7) Enables us to amass prayer resources.    

Wrestling is an inevitable reality and process germane to our walking with the Lord.  It is part and parcel of our subjective pilgrimage before and alongside the Holy.  It is fiction to believe that we will ever be totally divested of struggle.  In fact, it is precisely the struggle which strengthens and nourishes our perseverance. 

Dependency, for instance, comes through the travail and ultimate recognition that we are not equipped to handle this life alone – left to our devices, as it were.  We need God.  But this acknowledgement comes only after we struggle with the situations – we kick against the goads – and we come to the sobering point of brokenness and dependency. 

To that end, we pray for perseverance and not revival; for strength and for resolve, rather than for anything resembling effervescence and superficial “spirituality”. 

Prayerlessness can only be confronted by prayer and by the unadulterated surrender of expectations as it pertains to God and “what He should do”.  Instead, when we embrace His will, then prayer won’t be about us anymore and what we need to do, we’ll simply bask in His grace, goodness and rediscover what it means to be astonished by the Lord Almighty.  


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