Prayer cannot truly be taught by principles and seminars. It has to be born out of a whole environment of felt need. If I say, “I ought to pray,” I will soon run out of motivation and quit; the flesh is too strong. I have to be driven to pray.
Too many Christians live in a state of denial. “Well, I hope my child
will come around someday.” Some parents have actually given up: “I
guess nothing can be done. Bobby didn’t turn out right—but we tried; we
dedicated him to the Lord when he was a baby. Maybe someday.”
The more we pray, the more we sense our need to pray. And the more we sense our need to pray, the more we want to pray.
Prayer is the source of the Christian life, a Christian’s lifeline.
Otherwise, it’s 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’s why the great emphasis on teaching in today’s
churches is producing such limited results. Teaching is good only where
there’s life to be channeled. If the listeners are in a spiritual coma,
what we’re telling them may be fine and orthodox, but unfortunately,
spiritual life cannot be taught.
Pastors and churches have to 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 isn’t praying, we shouldn’t be boasting in our
orthodoxy or our Sunday morning attendance figures.
In fact, 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’re in trouble, even if we have 10,000 in
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn
Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in
a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime
friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson and a frequent speaker at the
Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge
throughout the world.