August 28, 2018

PRAYER: How Praying Together Shapes the Church

In the book PRAYER, which Crossway kindly sent me to review, author-pastor John Onwuchekwa examines how communal prayer shapes the life of a church and is as necessary as breathing. I love the analogy! But, sadly, the flip side fits, too – for example, if we think of Christians holding their breath, waiting for God to DO something!

As the first chapter, “Breathe Again,” reminds us:

“Where prayer is present, it’s saying something – it’s speaking, shouting. It teaches the church that we really need the Lord. Where prayer is absent, it reinforces the assumption that we’re okay without him…. It leads a church to believe that there are plenty of things we can do without God’s help, and we need to bother him only when we run into especially difficult situations.”

The truth, however is that, “…prayer is among the most vital keys to a successful ministry. It’s as necessary as breathing. It’s not meant to replace work but enable it. If we care to see our churches thrive in faithfulness to God, then our churches must pray like their lives depended on it. We must learn how to breathe together.”

What’s wonderful about this is that breath, air, wind, Ruah, Holy Spirit power know no denominational lines! And neither does the “Lord’s Prayer” or “Our Father.”

As the author points out in the chapter, “The World is Yours,” Jesus shows us what to ask for as we pray “Our Father” in unison and follow that potent example, corporately.

Conversely, notice how Jesus speaks to the individual in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and other biblical areas where He teaches on morality.

“But when talking to this same crowd about prayer, all of his pronouns are plural.”

Our corporate prayers are to draw on scripture and lean on the Lord as we: “Populate the prayer list primarily with kingdom, whole body, and major life concerns.”

The chapter, “Lean on Me,” also includes biblical examples of how the early church prayed as one corporate being, and, as the Body of Christ today, we still have access to that prayer power! With prayer a priority – a mission – an outreach guided by God – we can effect change and draw closer to God.

May this book give our churches the CPR needed to have a lively, healthy prayer life and breathe easy in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer, reviewer

PRAYER: How Praying Together Shapes the Church, hardback

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