• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Prayer is the work

A good friend used to quote the statement, “It’s not that we should pray about the work; prayer is the work!”   I’m not sure who was at the origin of that statement, but its message certainly rings true.  Most of us are activists at heart and prayer can quickly become one of those ‘options’ or add-ons.  It’s important, just not that important, we think.cdop-smal-group-prayer

Then we read a verse like this one that Paul sent to Timothy, a fledging pastor and worker, and find ourselves challenged about the place of prayer in our life and ministry: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  (1 Timothy 2:1).  This an exhortation of urgent importance which is quite inclusive in scope.  If nothing else, it puts prayer at the very top of our priority list and reminds us that no one is unworthy of our prayer focus.

What recently struck me is how often I have read this text in the singular, as addressed to Timothy (and by extension to me as an individual worker). However, over and again, Paul slips in the usage of the first person plural to remind us that the work to which he is calling Timothy is a work for the entire community.  In fact, he is inviting us to a ‘concert’ of prayer rather than just a solo.

I’m concerned that sometimes in our busyness, we forgot the importance of prayer, and particularly of prayer together with others. God calls us, through prayer, to influence our culture and touch the hearts of men and women lost without Christ.

Creative ways to make that happen, of joining more often in collective prayer with others, are certainly within our reach.

7 Responses

  1. Dear David,

    You are so right. It is all about prayer. The way I first heard this idea was in the statement, “Prayer is the battle.” It means the same thing, but I like the thought expressed in the word “battle.” It isn’t work, it is a battle for the hearts and souls and minds of people. It is a spiritual battle and we can only fight it in prayer, in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is indeed the most important part of what we do.

    In Jesus’ love, Gary

    • Another way to put it: it’s a marathon! Prayer calls for perserverance and community as we engage together in this ‘battle’ for peoples’ hearts!

  2. I could not agree more David and appreciate the priority WT is placing on prayer! http://utmost.org/the-key-of-the-greater-work/ I first heard this statement from Jeff Owens, who shared this devotional (in the link) in our team meeting. God used this concept to show us how little we actually pray and that what we value is different than what we say we value. Tough lesson to go through, but God has been continuing this work of deepening our prayer life!

    • I don’t want to ‘guilt’ us into greater prayer, but drawn into greater prayer because of the amazing love of God and His missional heart for the world.

      • I agree, however now I feel guilty! :). I it would have helped to communicate how God brought/is continuing to bring us through this by experiencing Him in deeper and more passionate ways as a team and how He drew us into deeper community as a result of this time spent in prayer, etc. Guilt is short-lived and self-driven, but changing core convictions and seeing Spirit-filled transformation is long-lasting and becomes who you are, which can only be by God’s grace!!!

  3. Oops! I left out a word or two in my response (: I meant to say that we should not ‘guilt’ people into prayer. Prayer should be a natural outgrowth or response from drawing more and more from the well of God’s amazing love. If we do feel ‘guilty’, it’s probably because we are going somewhere else to find our ‘salvation’ and joy.

  4. Prayer is one aspect of work indeed, as can be seen from these passages: Col 4:12-13, Rom 15:30, 1 Tim 1:4, 1 Thess 5:12-13, John 17:4.

    I think this is really important to point out, as you did, David. Especially since many of us tend to be working too much and praying too little. Perhaps it may help us to realize that when we pray there is a sense in which we do work as well. No need to feel guilty then.

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