In last week’s devotional, we looked at “Prayer Perils” that often accompany an increased commitment to prayer in the local church. We explained the practical expectations of satanic counter-attack, superficial resistance, traditional suspicion, methodological dissonance, leadership transition, slow advancement, and personal discouragement. To read more, CLICK HERE.
Now, we look at the exciting possibilities that occur when we make an authentic and enduring commitment to a dynamic culture of prayer in the local church. From the promises of God’s word, church history, and my own journey over the decades, I want to encourage you to understand all the Lord could do as you resolutely seek Him together in the context of life and ministry.
Expect Spirit-provided direction – Many ministries seem to lack clear direction. The account of the early church in the Book of Acts inspires us as they obediently waited on the Lord, both prior to and after Pentecost, in order to receive the direction of the Holy Spirit for all of His blessings in, among, and through them. Today, we are still expected to seek the leadership and direction of the Spirit for His work (Romans 8:15; Galatians 5:25; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13 & 22). He gladly provides it.
Expect authentic unity – The Spirit is the source and preserver of unity among God’s people (Ephesians 4:3-6). As we seek the Lord in one accord, receiving grace and wisdom from the Spirit, we are united at the deepest level. We experience and express our oneness in Christ, while other loyalties and agendas are surrendered to His will (1 Corinthians 3:3 & 16; 12:13).
Expect individual transformation – The entire focus of my book, Transforming Prayer, was to help believers understand the reality that prayer is primarily designed to transform our lives and empower us as agents of transformation in the world (CLICK HERE for more information). Paul described it this way: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Expect personal encouragement – Our Lord is the “God of All Encouragement” (2 Corinthians 1:3). The early church faced many trials but continued to come to the Lord in prayer to receive divine enabling and encouragement in many situations (for example, Acts 4:23-31; 16:25-34). We can do the same.
Expect Spirit-empowered outreach – The Holy Spirit is a witness-bearing Spirit (see Acts 1:8). The story of Acts is the account of the Spirit of God filling His people as they sought the Lord and then empowering them with a burden and divine capability to share the Gospel locally, regionally, and beyond. In the same way, our lost and troubled world desperately needs His Spirit-empowered Gospel lived through us.
Expect growing trust – Nothing allows us to know the hearts of other believers like praying together. Twice, I was called to large churches following the trust-destroying event of a moral failure by my predecessor. I learned that when God’s people seek Him together, they get to know one another at a deep level. The love of the Spirit restores trust and health, even in broken situations (see Romans 5:1; 15:30; 1 Corinthians 13:7).
Expect the grace of humility – It has been said that the key to humility is a high view of God. Worship-based prayer cultivates a deep reverence and love for the Lord, according to His word. This diminishes pride and invites divine grace and wisdom. God blesses a humble people and grants them favor in their relationships (James 3:13-18; 4:16; 1 Peter 5:5).
Expect “glorious” church services – The New Testament reminds us that our goal in worship services is that participants (saved and unsaved) are compelled to declare, “God is truly among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:25). His “glory” (His honor and His manifest presence) is our aim (Ephesians 3: 21). United hearts, seeking His blessing, invite this kind of work.
Expect a spirit of thanksgiving – Paul noted that when believers pray together, it accelerates their recognition of His work because they actively participate through their prayers. This multiplies the expressions of thanksgiving to Him (2 Corinthians 1:11; 4:15). Nothing compares to the joy of a thankful church.
Expect joyful generosity – When the Spirit grips the hearts of people and invites them into His purposes, He also empowers a new level of giving. People drink deeply of the grace that empowers supernatural generosity by giving themselves first to the Lord. He naturally unleashes grace in their finances (see 2 Corinthians 8:5-8).
Expect spontaneous ministry mobilization – Like generosity, Spirit-empowered service flows from hearts that are calling on the Lord. When we seek Him, we are motivated to serve Him in the supernatural enabling of His divinely-granted gifts.
Expect God-ordained growth – Christ wants to build His church with a growth that is from God (see Matthew 16:18; Colossians 2:19). When we declare our dependence on Him as the source of growth, He delights in advancing His work through us by His power.
Expect the potential of revival – Revival is a sovereign bestowal of the supernatural power of Christ upon His people. We do not manipulate it by our prayers, but when we pray, we are in a posture to catch the “wind” of revival when it blows. Even our extraordinary praying is often an indicator of the Lord’s prompting and His desire to prepare us for a special endowment of His power.
Expect eternal reward – When we stand before the Lord, He will not ask us about the “size” of our ministry but the “substance” (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Ministry accomplished in the mere energy of human effort will be burned like wood, hay, and straw. Christ-reliant, Spirit-empowered, prayer-energized ministry will endure for His glory and our reward, like gold, silver, and precious stone.
May God give us conviction, perseverance, and great hope as we expect and experience His reward for a faithful, praying people.
Copyright © 2014 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.