We have experienced something very special over the past several weeks here at First Baptist, Metropolis. For nearly two months now God has moved within our congregation in a very special way. Last Sunday night in our deacons meeting we rejoiced in the fact that last month eighteen people joined our fellowship, most of them by baptism. What’s even more exciting is that nearly every week, I am hearing from other Pastors around the country about how God is moving in their congregations. Couple that with the fact that right not across the nation there are two films in the theaters that expressly present the gospel (Son of God and God is not Dead) and it becomes clear that something special is beginning to happen. While it is too early to call it revival, God is clearly up to something and if you pay attention you will see Him moving all around you. With this in mind, I want to encourage everyone who reads this to refocus and rededicate themselves to the work of prayer.
It is no secret that every revival in the history of the church has begun with people setting aside time to pray and to seek God’s face. We are all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Notice the emphasis here on prayer and repentance. These are the two key elements in every great revival that has occurred in the church. Therefore, over the next couple of weeks, I am going to dedicate this blog space to encouraging and equipping Christians for the work of prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” One of the first things that stands out in these verses is that these commands are to be the perpetual activity of Christians. We should always be rejoicing, always praying, and always giving thanks. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to serve with an older Pastor named Tom Darter. One of the interesting characteristics of Tom’s personality was that when he started to pray he would begin with the word “…and.” So if you were sitting down to a meal with Tom he would pray, “…and Father we thank you for this food.” If you asked him to pray for a need he would say, “…and Father I come to you today on behalf of Joe…” If he was praying in the worship service he would say, “…and Father we praise you today for…” He always began his prayers with the word “…and.” One day I worked up the courage to ask Tom why he did this. I will never forget what he said, “Joe, prayer is the continuous work of every Christian. Our prayers do not have a beginning and an end, our lives are just one continuous prayer.” Tom went on to explain that when he prayed he was just continuing an ongoing conversation with God that had begun at the moment of his conversion.
This is what Paul has in mind here when he says “pray without ceasing.” We should be in an ongoing conversation with God that reflects our gratitude, our dependence, and our adoration. Today, as you go through your daily schedule I hope that you will strive to keep up a constant conversation with God. As you go through your day, talk to Him. Praise Him for His goodness and grace. Ask Him for the things you need. Thank Him for the many blessings, even the small ones, that He sends your way. Pray without ceasing.