My friend and I are enjoyng an interesting and ongoing discussion. Both retired from pastoral ministry, we both stay busy while eagerly pursuing trends in the church. John recently sent me an assessment of current Christianity as he sees it, which an editor published. If I respond a subject at a time, I can do several shorter-than-usual (for me) blogs and interact with John at the same time, so here's a couple of thoughts.
John was a “Brit” via Canada. He has an Assembly of God heritage, with extensive experience with the Christian & Missionary Alliance, the U Methodist Church, the Missionary Church and the Church of God, Anderson. First on the list he gave me is “A PRAYER CRISIS”. :
The Lord Jesus said the Church is to be a “House of Prayer”! How sad that in many Sunday Worship Services only about three to four minutes out of about ninety are given over to the vital matter of Prayer each week. And often much of what is voiced in prayer is repetitious from the previous week, except for the addition of any current concerns for those of the Church family that have some new or ongoing problem.
It is obvious that in these situations the congregation is self-centered as there is no reference to anything outside their local situation. Sadly, many of these congregations wonder why they do not grow numerically. Ironically, if any of the following “Crisis” matters were voiced before those same people, they would readily agree that these issues are valid subjects for urgent prayer and intercession.
I have to agree about the “House of Prayer.” I remember realizing as a pastor how little of our church activity was adequately doused in anything other than a brief and perfunctory prayer to officially open whatever function it might be. Can you imagine the Church Board dividing one of its meetings into one hour of prayer and one hour of business? Unheard of!
When was the last time you listened to a serious Pastoral Prayer? The last one I heard by my pastor was “filled” with congregational wants, aspirations, and needs. Yes, there was submissiveness to the Divine Will, but in thinking back, it was too “full of us” and too empty of praise, thanksgiving, adoration. It was taking the car to the gas station and getting a fill-up, mostly all about us.
I grant you, I frequently hear prayers that petition for world needs, for local military personnel, and for people with serious needs. Yet, as a fulltime caregiver, I confess I have almost stopped “asking” God for additional blessings on my spouse. I became aware that God had already answered so many prayers, and extended so many blessings, to maintain good conscience I simply Thank Him for all those other blessings and take comfort in being in His will.
I'm not sure I pray enough. Yet, I carry on a thought-filled conversation with God most days. When the Air Force discharged me in 1947, they released me because “they said” my spouse would only live 3-12 months--”C“ word. They were not playing God; they just gave me the medical facts, except they did not know “all” the facts, nor did I.
God was good enough to give us a lifetime together. In that time, one of the things I have learned is the F Word--faith. Give more thanks and ask for less. To paraphrase a book Stan Toler wrote, God may have scared us a few times, but he has never let us down yet!
From Warner’s World, what do you think?