They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And every soul was in awe at the many signs and wonders being done through the apostles (Acts 2:42-43).
“Did you know we have prayer warriors in our church?” That’s how my ninth grade Sunday School teacher began his lesson one week. “We do,” he said with a believe it-or-not confidence. Since I grew up in a church filled with military personnel, especially gung ho Marines, I felt sure I knew what a “warrior” looked like. But what he said next puzzled me: “A couple of them are sitting in that little office down the hallway.” He pointed to a nook where our two Sunday School secretaries diligently collected attendance sheets and offerings. I knew them as Mrs. Ruth and Mrs. Eunice, two saints whom I can best describe as “sweet little old ladies.” While I certainly held them up as models of mature Christian discipleship, I struggled to consider them as “warriors.” Nevertheless, my teacher described how those dear sisters in Christ had “prayed him through” several tumultuous trials. I discovered I had a lot to learn about the power of prayer.
As evidenced in Acts, our Christian ancestors were convinced prayer is never a waste of time. They believed prayer represented one of the church’s most essential tasks. Indeed, prayer has left an indelible mark upon all the great revivals of history. John Wesley, one of the key leaders of what is known as the First Great Awakening in the 18th century, was known to say he thought very little of a person who didn’t spend at least four hours in prayer every day!
How different is our usual practice today? Far too often we flippantly and reflexively offer our “thoughts and prayers” after any crisis or tragedy. We see it as a mere formality, as something to express our concern. But the kind of prayer demonstrated by the apostles in Acts is far more aggressive—far more warrior-like.
The fundamental problem, I believe, is that our prayers today are almost always defensive prayers and rarely, if ever, offensive prayers. We typically pray in response to something that’s happened, instead of praying proactively. When we pray exclusively defensive prayers we’re implicitly denying what God’s Word promises about prayer—“the prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). Our spiritual growth and health as a Christian will always be a reflection of our prayer life. Don’t leave this power untapped; it’s freely available to every disciple. Ask! Seek! Knock!
As your pastor, I want you to know I’m praying God would bless you, protect you, and equip you to serve Christ wholeheartedly. I also want you to know how much I appreciate your prayers for me and my family. May the Lord encourage our prayer warriors and raise up more!