What Ever Happened to Prayer?

This post was inspired by a 1982 message by Teen Challenge founder, David Wilkerson. It was true then and more true now.

Very few believers pray anymore! It has somehow lost its appeal. No wonder the church is in trouble. Folks are too busy working for Jesus to talk to Him! Ministers have become so busy doing kingdom work, they have little time or motivation left to pray. Bob Mumford used to explain it this way: A huge tanker, carrying tons of fuel, grinds to a halt. Why? Its own gas tank was on empty. Selah!

Church leaders have time and energy visit, build, strategize, study, write, preach and teach. Prayer is often tacked on at the end when God is asked to bless our work. The success of the first church was the apostles taught them to pray first then act. It was their first resort, not their last.

When preachers lose touch with God, they lose touch with their people and their needs. Preachers who don’t pray tend to have egos that spin out of control. They substitute sweat for unction Because they lack God’s anointing, they have had to learn how to manipulate emotions. The sad state of the church is we have many talented leaders, but not many who, like Elijah, can touch God in prayer. Talent is no substitute for time spent with the Lord.

Meanwhile back at the church. There isn’t much praying going on in congregations either. I’m 100% for getting prayer back in our schools! But God’s real problem isn’t lack of prayer in schools. The challenge is getting His people to pray in their homes and churches.  We can get folks to Bible Studies, no problem. Suggest prayer meetings however and there is dead silence.

“But we do pray!” you say. Yes we do.  At the conclusion of church meetings and Bible studies we often ask for prayer requests. We spend a few minutes asking God to bless what we’ve done or will he please look in on Aunt Tillie’s arthritis. Do we share our own struggles and needs? Rarely. . Do we ever really expect prayers to be answered?  Are we vigilant to look for the answers to these prayers?

Why Don’t We Pray? People say they don’t have time to pray, but we know we all make time to do the things important to us. It’s not lack of time. Partly it’s a lack of desire and faith. We don’t pray because we really don’t believe it works. But why is this? Because effective prayer has not been modeled for us. We have learned the theory of prayer, but not the actual practice. So the bottom line is we don’t pray because we don’t know how.

“Oh, Lord, teach us to pray for results.”

Next Post:  How can believers learn to pray for results?

A Tribute to my Uncle Pete

My earliest memory of him was when he asked, “Wade, what’s that updock on your back?”

“What’s up doc,” I replied innocently. That joke delighted everyone but me. You see, I had buck teeth back then and used to imitate Bugs Bunny with that phrase. But when people seemed to be  laughing at me, not with me, I stopped.  Classic Uncle Pete, so clever and funny!

He was always Uncle Pete to my brother Bill and me and also to my two boys, Wade and Ward. We adored and respected him, and not only because he was the single most entertaining, funny guy we ever knew.

God put him on this earth to tickle people’s funny bones, and he was very faithful to that calling, even when he couldn’t attract an audience. I remember him wearing that costume of the guy he invented named Father Pitt or Penn or such. It was so clever, but  sadly, folks just didn’t get it.

It was also because he was such an engaging romantic and lover. I’ll never forget the look of urgency on his face when he ran around Niagara Falls on a mission of love. We ran with him, searching for a letter he had written and hidden there years before.  Why was it so romantic! He wrote it to the love of his life years before he ever met and fell in love with Maria. A rock slide buried that letter, but never the passion that drove him to show authentic love to many around him—so like his mama, my Grandma, who showed us such unconditional love when we needed it most.

Funny thing about love. It’s not really a single thing, but, like the rainbow, has many colors and dimensions. Uncle Pete explored most of them, whether it was with his nephews, his students, his family of origin, with the family he and Maria built together or, later in his life, with Jesus.

Have you ever felt very close to someone because they loved someone you also loved? When Uncle Pete and Maria became personally acquainted with Jesus, I felt our relationship took a quantum leap forward. Did he have failures in that relationship as with others? He must have. Haven’t we all? Even St. Peter failed the Lord. Didn’t he deny him three times? Yet the Lord forgave and used him still.  I remember how crushed Uncle Pete was when I failed the Lord.  I’m not sure he ever got over that.

But now we can rejoice that il professore, Peter Iole, is done with the troubles of the world. I wonder if he isn’t still doing his thing, entertaining and tickling funny bones of that great audience above—the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and all the saints who have marched into glory with him.

“Oh, Lord, I want to be in that number.”  Amen

So, if you’ll pardon the expression, “knock ‘em dead,” Uncle Pete and thank you. You made us laugh. You shared our joys and sorrows. You taught us some very important things about love.

 

Why is the Modern Church Struggling?

One of our readers wonders why the modern church isn’t showing much success fulfilling its mission. He asks, have we:

  •     reduced true fellowship to filling auditorium seats?
  •     become more focused on gaining members than winning the lost?
  •     emphasized going to church, rather than being the Church?
  •     become overly concerned with buildings and salaries?
  •     promoted religion and call it Christianity?

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THE HARBINGER Error

I’ve been reading the best-selling book The Harbinger because friends are asking me about it. The error made by the author, Jonathan Cahn, is a common one. He cites and uses Bible prophecy addressed to Israel (Isaiah 9:10-12), and applies it to the U.S.

A well-known example of this error is a popular and well-meaning movement among Christians which called “If My People.” The goal was to call America to repentance and revival. Now that was a good thing, of course. But it isn’t America or any political entity that God calls to revival. It is a call to a spiritual entity, the Church of Jesus Christ. This movement used as their authority, II Chronicles 7:14.”If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray…..I will heal their land.”
God Bless America. When we sing this fine song, we do well to remember it is a prayer to God, not a statement that the USA is especially blessed by Him. Do we find find any passage in Scripture that clearly shows the USA is God’s chosen—that we are called by God’s name as Israel was? Has our history shown us to be an especially godly nation, ever?

Knowing how we clung to the evil of slavery when every other western nation had rejected it;  knowing how we have unjustly abused both Native and African Americans; knowing that only through the bloodiest civil war in history did we finally declare that slavery was not OK; knowing we banished God from our schools and other institutions–knowing all this, can we honestly believe God especially favors the USA?

Were the founding fathers believers?  The leading framers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,  Franklin, Jefferson and Madison, were deists, not Christians. They believed God was far removed from human affairs–, that he wound up his creation like a clock and then abandoned it.

Is the USA the New Israel? When the Apostle Peter wrote, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (NASB) is he describing the U.S? Of course not. He describes the church, the body of Christ—a spiritual entity not a political one. Israel is a type of the church, not of our nation or any nation.

This unfortunate error—believing the U.S. is special, is termed chauvinism or jingoism, words derived from actual individuals who held that their land was superior in some way.  It was this belief that caused 19th century France to plunge Europe into horrendous warfare for 12 bloody years. It was this error by the German people, who proudly sang, Deutschland Uber Alles (Germany Over All) that birthed the horrors of two world wars and the Jewish holocaust.

We need to abandon this belief the the U.S. is special to God unless it can be proven in some way. We do know that Jesus loves and favors his church. Can we pray instead that God’s people, His church, will turn back to Christ and once again   become a vital force in the world. It was the church of Jesus Christ that turned the Roman world right-side-up, causing them to abandon the evils of paganism, slavery and entertainments of death. It was a vital Christian faith that pushed for England to reject slavery and the exploitation of children. The church can be great once more.  Lord, do it again.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Picked On

We want to remind you brethren of the afflictions we endured….The burdens laid on us were great—so overwhelming, we despaired of life itself. (2 Cor 1:8).

Have you ever felt picked on? I mean have you ever come to the point where you believed life or God or the universe had it in for you? After surviving Stage IV cancer and a serious heart attack all in the same year, Matt, a good brother from church approached me.

“Wade,” he said, “Don’t feel you’re being picked on. It’s not so unusual for someone with cancer to then suffer a heart attack.” I felt comfort from Matt’s concern but also remembered Tevye’s comment when he felt picked on. In Fiddler on the Roof, he was complaining to God about all the troubles he and his fellow Jews suffered, “I know, I know. We are your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t you just choose someone else?”
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Fire on the Earth

Jesus said he has brought both fire and a sword. Of course his warfare is with spiritual powers, not governments, as the Jews wanted.  Corporate prayer is like the oxygen that allows the fire to grow. CommUNITY  and a spirit of brotherly love is the fuel that keeps it burning. But our warfare seems to be more with one another.

A House Divided.  I have just read in a periodical how one segment of the church is publicly condemning Franklin Graham for a particular moral stand. Another group is publicly condemning Presbyterians for their beliefs. Who is right and who is wrong isn’t  Continue reading