My past contributions to this blog will be all the evidence you need to support the following self-descriptive claim: I am the type of fellow who endlessly analyzes and strategizes about, among other things, how we ought to be doing church. So imagine my surprise when it occurred to me the other day that I have been wasting my time.
My moment of enlightenment (and it was enlightening) came when I was standing in the back of a musical worship session at the camp I took my high school students to this last weekend. As I saw students confessing sin and praying for one another, the following thought entered my mind: "You do not pray seriously about your ministry, and therefore do not actually rely God to minister. This is foolish."
The next thing I did was laugh. Folly is funny, even when it is your own. I laughed at how a guy with as much Bible training as I have could still manage to be so foolish. Then I thought, "I wonder how many other reasonably smart, personable, and generally competent folks are out there ceaselessly thinking and talking about ministry who don't spend real time praying for the Spirit to work."
I assume there are many. Some of them probably read this blog.
So here is the point of this post: what we really need to do if we care about being effective ministers of the gospel is to pray. We need to pray a lot. We need to pray alone and we need to pray in groups. We need to pray specifically for our congregations, our leaders, our ministries, and the non-Christians we know. And if we aren't doing these things, we need to repent and start praying.
We can plant and water all day, but God must cause the growth (1 Cor. 3:6). There is no clearer indication of our belief in this truth than our commitment to prayer. Revivals don't come from the analyzing and strategizing- or at least not primarily. They come when we pray.