Prayer People vs. Word People
Juxtaposition – [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uh n]
an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.
There is a mystery to the way prayer works. Often the Biblical commands about prayer and the Biblical narratives about prayer seem to be at odds with one another. Prayer often feels like a two-sided coin.
I would like to compare and contrast the different sides of the coin when it comes to the mystery of prayer. In so doing, I hope you can identify ways that you could grow in your own prayer life.
Those who believe prayer is most important find support for their position in verses like these that say revival and awakening come as a result of prayer and consecration. It is clear in scripture that prayer is a vital part of growing the Kingdom.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:14
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Colossians 4:2
Here is a command from the Old Testament, a verse from the birth of The Church, and a New Testament command. Clearly the Bible says that prayer is a vital part of any movement of God on campus, in a city, or in a nation. Prayer people believe this with deep conviction.
PITFALLS FOR PRAYER PEOPLE
No doubt prayer people are right. The scriptures are filled with commands to pray, fast and repent. We see the revival and awakening in the wake of prayer people throughout the scriptures and throughout history. However, there are also some subtle but devastating pitfalls with those who embrace prayer without the word.
They are sometimes prone to be self-righteous and judgmental. They can get really angry at people, especially leaders, that are not as committed to prayer as they are. They sometimes have a hard time persuading others about the importance of prayer because they do no know how to do so nicely.
They are sometimes prone to not have any unbelieving friends. Their strong belief in living a holy life sometimes lead them to unnecessary places. They often do not have any friends who believe differently than them. They don’t know how to be “in the world and not of it” like Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17.
Those who believe the word is most important find support for their position in verses like these that say revival and awakening come as a result of evangelism and missions. It is clear in scripture that preaching the gospel is a vital part of growing the Kingdom.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Act 1:8
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. II Timothy 4:2
Here is a command from the Old Testament, a verse from the birth of The Church, and a New Testament command. Clearly the Bible says that the word is a vital part of any movement of God on campus, in a city, or in a nation. Word people believe this with deep conviction.
PITFALLS FOR WORD PEOPLE
No doubt word people are right. The scriptures are filled with commands to evangelize, preach, and go on mission. We see the revival and awakening in the wake of word people throughout the scriptures and throughout history. However, there are also some subtle but devastating pitfalls with those who embrace the word without prayer.
They are sometimes prone to be close-minded and arrogant. They can be so convinced about their approach to ministry that they are not open to anyone who thinks and acts differently than them. A subtle but slow pride begins to develop in them as they begin to think that they have a corner on truth.
They are sometimes prone to work in the flesh and not in the spirit. They can rely on manmade plans and strategies more than they rely on God. They subtly begin to trust in their plans, programs, strategies, and tactics more than they are trusting in God. It’s evident in the fact that they spend more time in planning and studying than they do in prayer.
Justin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.