“What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.” —E.M. Bounds
Gospel ministry in America today has achieved a level of proficiency unprecedented in the history of the church. We have million dollar facilities with the latest technologies, marketing strategies that rival Madison Avenue, and unlimited number of programs to meet every conceivable need of the spiritual consumer.Sunday morning services are designed to dazzle by sight and sound. Colorful lights awash over stylish backdrops offer soothing ambiance as professional worship leaders inspire the crowd with musical brilliance. Anyone want some coffee, tea, juice or bagels? We’ve got plenty to make everyone feel welcome and right at home. We’ve become so proficient.
And the preaching? It has never been so dynamic. Video clips, drama routines, and PowerPoint accentuate the modern pulpit. Preachers have become skillful orators that deliver cute, humorous, and motivational sermons in less than seventeen minutes without the slightest hint of offense or controversy. We’ve become so proficient.
To ensure oratory excellence, preachers today need not labor over—or struggle to write a good “talk.” There is an abundance of material right at our fingertips, our libraries are filled with commentaries and published homilies. Famous preachers offer sermons for sale on DVD and millions, if not billions of sermons are ready for download at the click of mouse or the swipe of an iPad.
We have become so proficient. We are strong in technology, strong in facility, strong in programs and strong in presentation. But I fear that what is our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness.
R.T. Kendell wrote, “If the Holy Spirit were taken completely from the earth today, ninety percent of church work would go on as if nothing at all had happened.”
My fear is that we have become so proficient in our own ability that we no longer rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve become so proficient we can do it without Him. We no longer need Him, we no longer seek Him, we no longer pray.
Any novice Bible student knows that the most important meeting of the New Testament church was the prayer meeting. Unfortunately, today, it’s also the least attended meeting.
It’s true. Today we have no problem filling the church for fellowships and social events, but where is the prayer? We have no problem gathering people for potlucks and chili cook-offs but where is the call to fast? In the words of David Wilkerson, “We love the supper room, but avoid the upper room.” And unfortunately, the church will never penetrate this godless culture and make true converts to Christ unless we fall in love again with prayer.
We may build a crowd with our motivational talks and free coffee, but will we make disciples? Will the power of the Holy Spirit be so strong upon our services, our worship, our preaching that sinners realize their need to repent, be converted and surrender to the Lordship of Christ? Will the anointing of God be so heavy that lives are transformed, addicts are set free, marriages are restored, bodies are healed and young people are called to ministry? Not without prayer. Tragically, hell will be filled with people who’ve learned from prayerless, un-anointed preachers how to be happy and achieve success. If there is one thing we need today, it’s pastors who pray, preachers who pray, men of God who mount the pulpit with a fire in their bones acquired through prayer, fasting and a hunger for God.
More than a century ago, Andrew Murray said, “The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution in history to world evangelization.” Likewise, Leonard Ravenhill declared, “The man who can get believers to praying would, under God, usher in the greatest revival that the world has ever known.” In the early 20th century, Dr. R. A. Torrey wrote, “The devil is perfectly willing that the Church should multiply its organizations and its deftly contrived machinery for the conquest of the world for Christ, if it will only give up praying.” Torrey further wrote, “Satan laughs as he looks at the church of today, and says: ‘You can have your Sunday schools, and your children’s programs and your Men’s Clubs, and your choirs, and your music, and your preachers, and even your revival efforts even—if you do not bring into them the power of Almighty God, sought and obtained by earnest, persistent, believing, mighty prayer.’”
But how does a church become a praying church? How do a people become a praying people? The answer is found in three simple words: A PRAYING LEADER!”
The next few blogs I will write will have one goal: to inspire leaders to pray! What good are facilities if not a house of prayer? What good is music if not soaked in prayer? What good are our eloquent homilies and colorful PowerPoint sermons if not bathed in prayer? We may reach the minds of men; but if we do not transform them from spiritual death to life through repentance, all of it is nothing more than a show of vanity to entertain the flesh.
This entry was posted in All Devos, Effective Praying and tagged Andrew Murray, Christ, David Wilkerson, Dr. R. A. Torrey, E.M. Bounds, Effective Praying, God, HolySpirit, Leonard Ravenhill, Madison Avenue, Prayer, Prayer Power, R. A. Torrey, R.T. Kendell.