And He was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:17; see Isaiah 56:7)

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven… deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-10, 13)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me …. (Ephesians 6:12, 16-19)

… If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

… Pray without ceasing …. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Sometimes you need to group multiple scriptures together to really hear what God is saying. Every church within reach of this newspaper should be a house of prayer. But few are.

Start by asking yourself how much time you personally spend in prayer each day. How much time in your church’s Sunday morning worship service is dedicated to prayer? Does your church have an active and organized prayer ministry?

National surveys indicate that Christians average five minutes of prayer per day. Average daily use of social media is over two hours for adults and even more for youth, and average daily television use is over three hours.

The average daily prayer time for pastors – our spiritual leaders – is under seven minutes. They spend less than 1% of their waking hours talking with the Lord they serve and represent.

Even the historic mainstay of church prayer, Wednesday night prayer meeting, has in most churches become a smorgasbord of fellowship meals, music practice, youth activities, bible studies, and committee meetings, with a prayer gathering nowhere in sight. All of these have their place, but they were never supposed to displace and replace prayer.

My friends, we are giving lip service to the power of prayer, but it is clear we do not really believe in it because we do not practice what we preach, and we are suffering the consequences of our failure.

A prayerless church operates in its own human strength rather than the divine power of the Lord. You can help people, but you cannot overcome the evil that is our real enemy. Just as the Amalekites prevailed against the Hebrew army whenever Moses lowered his staff, the gates of hell will prevail against a prayerless church. (Exodus 17:8-13) It has already happened in Europe, and it is gradually happening in America, where both participation in Christian faith and the impact of Christianity on society are shrinking with ever-accelerating speed.

To change the direction we are heading, we must change how we operate. Changing your music style and embracing social media outreach may draw more people to your church. Changing your individual and congregational prayer life will draw the presence, power, and purposes of God, which is what we need most. (James 4:8)

While most churches in our Kingsport region do not even mention prayer on their websites, there are wonderful exceptions. Christ Fellowship has prayer room services every Monday and Wednesday night. Preaching Christ Church has Tuesday night prayer meeting, with a true focus on prayer, and a social media prayer ministry that even reaches people in other nations. Celebration Church has a Sunday night prayer meeting, as well as small gatherings that meet to pray before their worship services. There are other examples as well, and all these churches are thriving.

Please share this column with your pastor. Volunteer to help. The early Church devoted themselves to prayer, and the results were amazing. (Acts 2:42-47, 4:24-31, 12:1-17) Our Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Become His house of prayer and see what happens!

God bless you, and God bless our community.

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