Does your church pray? I don’t mean a polite “invocation” at the beginning of the service, but does your church corporately participate in intense, eternity-changing intercession when it gathers?
What is an “invocation,” anyway? We say that is when we invoke, or invite God to enter our worship service. Really? We’re inviting Him to His house? What kind of double-speak is that? It’s His day, and He invites His people to worship in His house. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” He urges through the apostle Paul.
A more appropriate request then might be that He would make us attentive so we can hear His voice. We might ask Him to, as the song says, “Tune our hearts to sing Thy praise,” that He will help us make the songs we sing true worship gifts to Him. We entreat Him to shut out the distractions and draw us into His presence. We ask that He will lay on our hearts the same burdens that are on His. Repentance and praise must be consistent ingredients.
While it’s true that “prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend,” that doesn’t mean that it is casual or impromptu or shallow. We would not come to speak to the people for God without preparation; neither should we come to speak to God for the people without preparation. If it’s true as Jesus said that His house should be a house of prayer, then there is no more important part of the worship service than praying, and no more important preparation than preparing to pray.
We were in a service recently when the worship leader drew us up short with a simple question: Does our church spend more time in the announcements or in praying? Now I’m not suggesting that we worship with a stopwatch, but I am suggesting that we take seriously the managing of spiritual priorities.
If our meetings are bland and predictable, if miracles are few, if our emphasis is on raising church expense rather than on raising the dead, maybe…maybe it’s because we are seeing prayer as supplemental rather than central, as a casual saying of grace at the beginning of the meal rather than as the joyous savoring of the meal itself.
It’s something to pray about, isn’t it?