I was recently at a denominational gathering for a group that I know values prayer tremendously. In one of its core values it states: “Prayer is the primary work of God’s people.” I have no doubt that this group believes that. But when I look at what is emphasized in the group’s magazine, website, and materials that come out of its national office to churches, prayer is not placed in a position to make one think it was as important as other things – certainly not enough emphasis to show they believed it was the primary work of God’s people.
One of the primary reasons prayer is so weak in churches and in believers lives these days has to do with this “lip service” given to the importance of prayer. It seems enough for a church to say “we believe in prayer,” or “we want to be a praying church.” Our actions don’t seem to matter as much as simply saying that. The Apostle James (who was affectionately known as “Camel Knees” because of the callouses on his knees from kneeling in prayer) says, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). If we apply that truth to prayer, he is saying, if you say you believe in prayer, but that belief is not accompanied by activity and actions that prove that, then you don’t really believe it!
What Graf is getting at could be – and should be – applied to any Core Value of a church or organization. After all, if something is not put into practice is it really a value at all? And the same could probably be said regarding many of our supposed spiritual disciplines. But about prayer many especially seem to be prone to pontification without participation.
By the way, Prayer Connect is a new magazine and e-journal well worth reading.