Prayer is the source of the Christian Life, a Christian lifeline. Otherwise, it is like having a baby in your arms and dressing her up so cute—but she’s not breathing! Never mind the frilly clothes—stabilize the child’s vital signs. It does no good to talk to someone in a comatose state. That is why the great emphasis on teaching in today’s churches is producing such limited results. Teaching is only good where there’s life to be channeled. If the listeners are in a spiritual coma, what we are telling them may be fine and orthodox, but spiritual life cannot be taught.
Pastors and churches must get uncomfortable enough to say, “We are not New Testament Christians if we don’t have a prayer life.” This conviction makes us squirm a little, but how else will there be a breakthrough with God?
If we truly think about what Acts 2:42 says—“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”—we can see that prayer is almost a proof of a church’s normalcy. Calling on the name of the Lord is the fourth great hallmark in the list. If my church or your church is not praying, we should not be boasting in our orthodoxy or our Sunday morning attendance figures.
My wife, Carol, and I have told each other more than once that if the spirit of brokenness and calling on God ever slacks off in the Brooklyn Tabernacle, we will know we are in trouble, even if we have 10,000 in attendance.
During countless Tuesday night prayer meetings I find myself encircled by the sacred sounds of prayer and intercession filling the church and overflowing from every heart present. As the meeting edges to a close, I overhear mothers petitioning for wayward children, men asking God to please help them find employment, and others giving thanks for recent answers to prayer. I can’t help but think, “This is as close to heaven as I will ever get in this life. I don’t want to leave here. If I were invited to the White House to meet some dignitary, it would never bring the kind of peace and deep joy I sense here in the presence of people calling on the Lord.”