Building a House of Prayer: Part 1
Building a House of Prayer: Part 2
Building A House of Prayer: Part 3
Building a House of Prayer: Part 4
Building a House of Prayer: Part 5
Building a House of Prayer: Part 6
Building a House of Prayer: Part 7
Building A House of Prayer: Part 8
Building a House of Prayer: Part 9
Building a House of Prayer: Part 10
Phase 3: Adding the Ceiling and the Roof
Some activities have pleasing side effects. We start jogging to lose weight and find that it also relieves tension. We invest in IRAs to avoid taxes but end up with a tidy retirement. We stop to help a family whose car is broken down and end up converting them and becoming friends. Prayer is like that. It has side effects - and they are all pleasant. These are not answers that God gives to prayers, but are extras He throws in to praying churches (cf. 1 Kings 3). You could say God tops off His answers to prayer with additional blessings. In the analogy of building a house (church) of prayer, these crowning blessings are the ceiling and roof.
A Praying Church Will Have Fewer Rebellious and Unruly Members.
Jesus spent more time in prayer than any man in Scripture, and it is not coincidental that He was also God's most submissive Servant (Matthew 26:39; John 5:30; John 6:38; John 12:28; John 14:31; Romans 15:3). When we pray as He taught us, ,Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth,and forgive us our sins (Luke 11:2-4), we come away without the baggage of pride, which is the fuel that starts church fires. Our perspective is better on our knees. We come to see ourselves as beggars needing what only God can give (cf. Matthew 5:3). We can better see the big picture when we are small in our own eyes. God is in heaven; we are on earth. God is infinite; we are finite. God sees the future; we have trouble understanding the present. God on His worst day is better than we are on our best day (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:25). The more we pray, the more we recognize that we are impotence kneeling in the presence of Power and need holding a hand out to Supply.
The more time we spend thinking about God, the less likely we are to rely upon ourselves. Jesus, when He was one of us, expressed man's position: I can of mine own self do nothing,I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (John 5:30). Job was a man of prayer, and he learned to submit to God whatever the circumstances. At the death of all his children, and the loss of all his property, he still said, ..the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21). David spent much time at God's throne, and came back with the attitude ,behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him (2 Samuel 15:26). When Israel saw their true condition, they prayed, ,do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee, (Judges 10:15). Even though the message was against him, Eli said, ,It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good (1 Samuel 3:18).
If preachers taught churches to spend more time in prayer during the week, there would be less arguing with his sermons on Sunday. If elders led their flocks into meaningful prayer, they will have fewer of them disputing their decisions. If we went back to praying as Jesus prayed, there would be no rejecting of God's Truth for innovations He never put a stamp of approval upon. God tops off the efforts of a praying church with peace and a submissive membership.
A Praying Church Will Be a Forgiving Church (Mark 11:15).
So many congregations don't grow because there are old feuds in the family, bad blood in the body, and half-buried hatchets under the pews. Unforgiveness is a rot-ting carcass in the spring of the water of life; it is mold on the bread of life we are trying to dispense to our communities; it is a cancer in the body of Christ. We must get rid of it!
How can we develop a forgiving attitude in church members at odds with each other? Appeal to self-preservation. We must simply tell them what Jesus did - if you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you. If you want others to go to hell, then you will go there. This seems to have been the main point Jesus was making in the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). This is the part He chose to elaborate upon after concluding it. He did not comment on hallowed, or daily bread, or the coming of the kingdom, but He did upon forgiveness. After He said, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12), He explained, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15). He was one of us, and divine, too, so He knew this would be a hard thing for Adam's race.
A Praying Church Will Become a More Holy Church.
When Jesus went up into a mountain to pray, He came back with His face shining (Luke 9:28-29). When Moses spent time with God, his face was so bright they had to cover it (Exodus 34:29-33). Stephen, a man close enough to God to be described as full of faith and the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:5), had his face shine as an angel (Acts 6:15). We may not get up from prayer looking any different, but we will get up acting differently. We cannot spend time in the presence of God's holiness without some of it rubbing off on us. Anthropologists have long observed that man becomes like the god he worships. As we worship the holy God (1 Peter 1:16) of Scripture in prayer, we become more holy. Would not our churches grow faster if there were less hypocrisy and worldliness among our members? If we can develop a praying membership, hypocrisy and worldliness will dry up on the vine and then be cast away as untimely figs.
A Praying Church Will Be a More Optimistic Church.
Some older preachers observe a higher level of pessimism in the brotherhood today than when they were younger. Some younger preachers (and older ones, too) are less aggressive in preaching the simple Gospel of God today because they seem to think that the things we have preached from the Bible have had their day. They say the church of Christ is on the decline. Some insist that we have to change with (for) the culture, or we will die. Is Christ dead (Romans 8:31)?! Then how could His body be dead? Is God finished with the work of saving people? Then how could His instrument for saving souls be out of business?
We can always make a case for pessimism, but we can also make a case for optimism. The only answer to pessimism is to focus on God instead of on man. God has lost none of His great power (2 Samuel 22:32-33; Job 36:22; Psalm 66:3; Jeremiah 32:17). And He still gives power and boldness to His people when they pray (Psalm 68:35). We need to pray again the Psalmist's prayer: ,O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come (Psalm 71:18).
There are clouds, of course, and we would be foolish to lay down our swords and use a trial in both hands, but we also must not put down our trial and take up two swords (cf. Nehemiah 4:17). There have been clouds before. If we had been alive in March of 1866 when Alexander Campbell died, what would we have thought?1 The Civil War had fractured the country and divided much of the church. We might have wondered if the movement would survive, but it did. If we had been alive during the 1900s when the digressives split the church, we would have wondered if it would survive. We lost much of the brotherhood - most of the members, almost all of the large churches, and most of our church properties. But the church survived. J.D. Tant, a powerful preacher, came to Nashville in the early 1900s and had a debate with a Baptist preacher. After the debate the Baptist and Reflector Magazine wrote: That is the end of Campbellism in this community. The death knell has been sounded, the casket has been lowered, Campbellism is dead in Nashville. They were, of course, using a derogatory misnomer for the Lord's church, but the church certainly was not dead. About one hundred and thirty churches of Christ will meet in the Nashville area next Lord's day. David Lipscomb, like an old woman with a broom trying to keep the tide of digression from coming in, taught and fought. And the church survived. We regained our aggressiveness and then thrived.
These illustrations are taken from an unpublished sermon by Paul Rogers. It was preached in Fulton, Mississippi, during a VBS.