As some of you are aware, I have been frequently highlighting and stressing the ‘Necessity of Prayer’ here at Hillside North Church since I’ve arrived. That is no accident and I do not apologize for it. The fact is, we need to pray like we need to breathe. English evangelist and author Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The true church lives and moves and has its being in prayer.” God’s desire for Hillside North Church is not only that we be ‘one as He is one’, but that we be sanctified and unified through prayer.
In the book of Acts, Luke states that the early church “… devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Those are all necessary ingredients for a healthy church, but ironically, the New Testament church as we know it began while a group of believers were praying. As ‘church members’ were simply calling on God, the Holy Spirit was poured out. The NT church was born!
As necessary as prayer is to any church, it is not the easiest or convenient thing to do. In fact, it is one of the most challenging disciplines that any Christian or church will encounter. Prayer is not natural to any of us. Sure, many a soul has cried out to God while in a “fox-hole” situation, but for the most part prayer is not a discipline that comes easy for any of us. We must be intentional regarding it. In Mark chapter one verse 35, it says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” I don’t know about you, but getting up “very early” to pray is not one my strong suits! We must be intentional about it even so. I have found that God gives grace and strength to seek His face even in our weakness and even in the dark and lonely hours of the night!
What we are actually looking for as a church is something that we cannot achieve by simply rolling up our sleeves, grabbing a shovel and digging in. We are looking for God Himself; only HE satisfies. As one of my favorite authors, Oswald Chambers, has written in the past “We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose for prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.”