Prayer: More than Wishful Thinking, Part 2
By Adrian Powell
Too often Christians act as if prayer is an optional side of the life of a disciple, as opposed to a vital part of the Christian experience. And then comes the realization that, as you read the Bible consistently and with attention to the text, you will eventually begin to pray the Bible, especially the Psalms. As you pray the Bible, you will find that there are truths that become plain to you about the efficacy and power of the prayer of faith as you hear the prayers of others who fail to do likewise.
We begin to hear things that call into question just how much thought, preparation, and foundational theological understanding go into the prayers of believers. Because, as Pastor Joel Adjei, of Kendall Community Church of God in Miami, Florida, has said, “So many people fail to understand that, when we pray, we are in a spiritual battle, and that we have to be purposeful in prayer in order to overcome the wiles and ways of the enemy. It is far easier to do the work of God when you have folks who are willing to put in the effort and pray, than to try and deal with those who don’t want to put the serious work in.”
When a church is making preparation to make a difference spiritually in their neighborhood, it is not so much the leaders of the church but the members in the pew that will be the catalyst for the change that must come through concerted, fervent prayer. “We have half the congregation engaged in prayer during the services, either in person or by video participation,” Pastor Adjei explains. “The church has been a part of the neighborhood for over eighty-four years and has been the source of a lot of hurt. Knowing that history and the strongholds that are in place, you have to get back to the fundamentals to overcome the depth of those roots.”
The fact that people fail to persist in prayer shows that they don’t take the reality of spiritual warfare seriously. As the devil is the enemy of our souls, the fact that we are indifferent to the most effective weapon against his tools renders us powerless when he tries to frustrate, fixate, or fluster the believer as they attempt to go to God in prayer.
We must be careful as well in how we address God, and be certain that we address each person of the Triune Godhead in appropriate ways, making sure that we don’t confuse their Personhood with the another. We should not ask that the “blood of the Spirit cover my sin,” for instance, because it was the Son who came to earth to provide the atoning sacrifice for our sin.
Additionally, we need to be certain that there is no unconfessed sin in our lives that would prevent our prayer from being heard. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (ESV). So, we must be sure that we ask from the right motivation and with a pure heart.
Pastor Adjei observes, “We are only concerned with making sure that people are being properly discipled, and that only comes through prayer and an emphasis on the Word. That’s the only way you can be certain that they are getting what they need to grow and not anything else. Those two things are the foundation that we base this ministry on.”
Be certain that you aren’t praying to either put on a display of your knowledge nor to be the center of attention by causing people to have to endure long prayers, for Matthew 6:7 tells us, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (NKJV).
We need to understand that in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 we are called to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Therefore, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of our “feelings,” regardless of how our lives may be seeming to unfold we are to rejoice, pray, and be thankful.
This is because we know that in spite of how things may appear at the moment, we have a hope that lay beyond the limits of this physical world and have the promise of indescribable joy and ineffable fulfillment in a never-ceasing time of worship.
For Part 1 in this two-part series on prayer, highlighting Kendall Community Church of God, click here.
Adrian Powell is an associate editor with Church of God Ministries and senior pastor of Faith Community Church of God in Grove City, Ohio. He has been published in numerous periodicals, newspapers, and blogs, and has authored two books—The Jubilee Harvest and Resident Aliens: A Living Faith in a Hostile World, available at Amazon.com.
Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Kendall Community Church of God prayer around the campfire.