I have never met a church leader who would say that prayer is unimportant, nor have I ever heard a congregation affirm a similar statement. I have, though, worked with many churches who practically show that prayer matters little to them.[i]
In those churches, no particular leader is responsible for coordinating a prayer ministry. Prayer lists are dominated by the trials of church members, often to the exclusion of the needs of non-believers. The praying that does occur is more often reactive than proactive; that is, a problem develops, and then the church starts praying.
Great Commission churches, though, stress prayer as a non-negotiable component in fulfilling Matthew 28:18-20. They understand that non-believers are blinded by the enemy (2 Cor. 4:3-4) and are held in the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13-14). These churches know that God alone changes hearts and gives growth (1 Cor. 3:7); thus, they intentionally intercede on behalf of witnesses and non-believers. In most cases, they pray for non-believers by name.
Prayer in these churches is an admission that they cannot accomplish the Great Commission in their own power. Ironically, the churches that best focus on the Great Commission are those that most readily admit their absolute dependence on God to accomplish these tasks. These churches do the Great Commission from their knees.
Is your church a Great Commission praying church? Are you a Great Commission praying leader?
If not, take time right now to spend time with the Lord. Confess any dependence on self. Ask Him to break you and your church over the lostness of the world.
Then, send your church members to this post today, and challenge them to pray before the Lord's Day tomorrow. You will gather with the people of God differently tomorrow if you’ve been with Him today.
[i] Excerpt from Great Commission Resurgence (Nashville: Lifeway, 2008), 30.