Why “Impromptu” Corporate Prayer Dishonors God
There are likely times that all of us could anticipate the content of most of the prayer offered in our corporate church settings. We know all the pet phrases and favorite words. During “prayer meetings” the short, perfunctory prayer by the deacon who is reporting on visitation for the week will always refer to “unspoken needs” and will request that God “heal them according to Thy will,” but won’t contain much more. The invocation to start the Sunday morning service will repeat bland requests for God’s favor “on those who could not attend,” for God to “be with them” and to “be with us,” and give half-hearted thanks “for this beautiful day of Sunday.” Before taking up the offering someone will, quite familiarly, ask God to “bless the gift and the giver.
Prayer during deacon meetings (when it’s done: one deacon chairman eliminated prayer on the ground that everyone should be “prayed up” before they got there), committee meetings, Bible studies and other settings does not fare much better, and is usually comprised of a mix of well-worn expressions and spiritual-sounding phrases to which no one really knows the meaning any longer and that are simply rearranged to disguise their age and to fit the occasion.
But it should not be this way!
Prayer is one of those activities that is both a great privilege and also absolutely crucial to the spiritual health of the both the individual believer and the body of believers of the local congregation. Something about prayer unites us i true spiritual communion with God, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, and on the basis of the work that Jesus Christ has done to reconcile us to God. The trinitarian aspect of the godhead is truly demonstrated in prayer: the Son enables us to approach the holy God in prayer; the Spirit helps our weaknesses and shapes our prayer; God receives our prayer and communes with us through it.
Prayer in Scripture is vibrant, excited, inspiring, which leads us to ask several questions about our: Why is it so different? Does it matter? What can be done?
(Look for Part 2 “Why is Ours so Different?” soon…)