One of the most gratifying things to me has always been mowing the lawn. I can be outside and get a little bit of exercise, but also I can see immediate results. Next to the tall overgrown grass is the freshly cut lawn. Instant results are gratifying. However, there are areas in life where I don’t see results instantly. Gardening, learning new habits, and saving money are some examples. Prayer in worship is often more like the second example. A necessary work that rarely sees immediate results.
Consider the role of corporate prayer. We pray every week for results that we may not immediately see. Weekly we bring our same concerns to God. It may seem unimportant, but it’s one of the most important things the church does. Chores are not always fun, but they need to happen. I would take the statement even further if we don’t do this; everything else will fall apart. Imagine how chaotic our life can be if we never clean the house, wash clothes, or maintain the car. Corporate prayer in the w is more than but not less than maintenance. Our corporate prayer is essential. It communicates to us and those around us that we are dependent on God, a community of disciples, and the spiritual nature of our gatherings.
Many areas in life we can define success based on our work and effort. The temptation is found in churches as well. If we do “X,” then people will come. In corporate prayer, we communicate our dependence upon God on building the church. If God doesn’t build, then we labor in vain. The early church in Acts was in prayer in all aspects of their church life. The church life, taken from their example, is right when it is devoted “to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42) The role of prayer in their ministry was a testimony of complete reliance upon the Lord. (Acts 2:46, 3:1, 13:2-3, 4:23-31, 14:23)
We err if we think that only those in the front or most visible can contribute to worship. In corporate prayer, there are no celebrities. Corporately our voices are heard, child or elderly, strong or weak in one who prays for all. (Ps 8:2; Col 4:12) The collection of saints praying is a force to be recognized. It is the difference between a drop of water and the roar of many waters and thunder. (Rev 19:6) Worship is the Lord’s house, a house of prayer where we participate with the heavenly saints before his throne. (Is 56:7; Rev 5:8)
Prayer does not appear, on the surface, to be exciting or worth much attention. But that is because of its spiritual nature. Prayer is for many things. It is the church unsheathing her weapon for battle. Prayer is interceding on behalf of and blessing others and asking for the work of the Holy Spirit himself. (2 Cor 1:11,Lk 11:13) The life of the Christian does not battle against flesh and blood thus we pray. We pray because we are a community of disciples who are dependent upon a gracious and merciful God. Let us pray!