Acts 2:41-43 "So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles."
Yesterday I began sharing with readers where God has been dealing with me lately on the subject of envisioning an awesome church. Four terms were used yesterday to summarize what is meant when I say - "envision an awesome church": intercession; word; fellowship & co-mission. Whatever vision God has for each local church must include these four necessary elements. All four work together in harmony and not one of them must ever be excluded.
When it comes to the area of intercessory prayer or prioritizing prayer, churches do not consistently practice this vital effort. It is for this reason that I want to focus on this first element in envisioning an awesome church. Without intercession and without regularly dedicating our efforts at word ministry, fellowshipping and co-missioning to reach all peoples for Jesus, our churches will be at best religious and moral institutions that though beautiful and efficient in their programming, yet will have no power and no impact.
Now did this first major step of intercession only exist in the Book of Acts. Certainly not! When we comb through the New Testament letters (epistles) and Revelation, we see the Apostles urging the churches to pray. I will only mention the references and then expound briefly on one of them as we close out today. Here are the references we see the Apostles teaching and urging the churches to engage in prayer. (Romans 8:26-27; 1 Cor 14:15; 2 Cor 1:11; Ephesians 1:18; Phil 4:6-7; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:17; 2 Thess 3:1; 1 Tim 2:1; 2 Tim 1:3; Philemon 1:6; Hebrews 13:18; James 5:13-15; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 John 5:14-15; 3 John 2; Revelation 5:8)
Practically speaking, whenever the church has a dedicated prayer meeting, the church membership ought to do all they can to be a part. Any meeting that is conducted in a church ought to not just have a token opening prayer, but include intercession over whatever is being discussed and if possible, intercession for those involved in the meeting. Praying for unsaved people should occupy a large percentage of our intercessory efforts. When we pray for the unsaved, we will approach reaching them with the heart of God Himself.
As we close out this post regarding what it means to envision an awesome church, the first necessary ingredient is intercessory prayer. Author Gregory Frizell in his book "The Power of Prayer and Fasting", page 3, Broadman & Holman Publisher, notes: "While we continue on our frantic search for the next promise of power, personal fulfillment, and self-gratification, God stands at our side, patiently waiting and holding a connection that will give us one of the greatest sources of power we will ever know. It's a source of power still unknown, underused, misunderstood, and even fear evoking in the minds of some people. Pure and simple, it is the power of God that manifests itself through prayer and fasting."
Can you and I imagine such an awesome church? If all we do is invest sweat and gritting of teeth alone, then the fruit of the best intentions of the flesh is all we will get. If all I do in preaching is just read the commentaries and jot down a few point without intercession, the sermons will amount to religious "talks" and nothing more. However whenever prayer is coupled with programs, planning and preaching, the outcomes will far exceed the efforts of men. When Jesus says in Matthew 17:20-21 that we can move mountains by prayer, this assumes we have aligned ourselves to God's will through prayer. A mountain cannot be moved by men, but only by God. An awesome church must begin with a serious concerted effort towards mutual and individual intercession.