My wife and I have been in full time ministry since 1998. We have been on all kinds of teams and in all kinds of ministry environments. I have friends who work for the para-church, the mega-church, and the little-church. I know church planters, church fixers, and church builders. All of us are very busy.
The one thing that I have learned in my time in full-time ministry is that prayer is not doing the work of ministry. Everyone will tell you it is. But, our calendars and to-do lists show that we don’t believe this. If a pastor or missionary says, this week I will be praying. All of us think, “Really? That’s it?”
When there are prayer meetings at our churches, we don’t show up.
What is even more insidious is our language. We very often link the word “just” with “pray” or “praying”.
I am convinced that prayer is the hard work of the ministry. It is the tilling of the soil and breaking of fallow ground. I am slow to admit this but I know the hardness of my own heart and that extended time in prayer is breaking it up and softening it significantly.
When we look back the history of major revivals throughout the ages they are always in conjunction with the people of God becoming aware of and responding to their need to pray. It is our desire to see the world reached with the Gospel through the launching of church movements all over the world. For this to happen, nothing less than revival is needed. Therefore, we must pray.
But, we cannot use prayer as a means to an end. Our hearts must be broken over our need to pray. Why? Because it is in prayer that we encounter God. We hear from him. We experience him. We build intimacy with him. Prayer is a holy encounter with the divine.
Perhaps this is the reason that we do not pray; we do not feel worthy to enter into his presence. So it is, we are not. But Jesus has “slathered us in grace” and so we find that the door is always open to enter into the presence of God the Father.
Prayer is more than just ministry. It is the expression of our trust in life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.