"Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints" - Ephesians 6:18

When the Lord Jesus told us what His House should be, doesn’t say a “house of fellowship”, a “house of study” or a “house of singing”.

Now, there’s not a thing wrong with any of those aspects of church life. They are, in fact, noble, necessary, and sacred things.

But when the Lord spoke through His prophet what declared what His church should be know for, He said, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations" (Isaiah 56:7). In fact, at no point in Jesus’ ministry was he more furious than He was when Israel had turned the Temple into something that didn’t resemble a “house of prayer” (Luke 19:46; Mark 11:17).

Plain and simple: Jesus tells us what His church would be known for, He emphatically, and without nuance, tells us it’s prayer. That should be no Suprise to us as throughout the Bible, the practice and the necessity of prayer is presupposed, taught, and modeled.

The longer I've been a follower of Jesus, the more I've come to value and appreciate prayer in both my personal life and pastoral ministry.

I’ve come to realize that what the early church father, Augustine, said about the Pastor and his prayer life was spot on: “The Christian speaker, while he says what is just, and holy, and good (and he ought never to say anything else), does all he can to be heard with intelligence, with pleasure, and with obedience; and he need not doubt that if he succeed in this object, and so far as he succeeds, he will succeed more by piety in prayer than by gifts of oratory; and so he ought to pray for himself, and for those he is about to address, before he attempts to speak.” – Augustine

While these words concerning the essential quality of prayer are absolutely true as they relate to a minister’s effectiveness, they’re equally true in relation to every believer and to the church corporately. Simply put, if there is to be any exceedingly, abundantly kind of Gospel-good accomplished in and through the church, it will come as a result of, and as an answer to, the prayers of Gods people.

I’ve been reminded of this reality in the first few messages of our Sunday morning sermon series through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. I’ve been equal parts instructed, encouraged, and convicted as we’ve walked through the elaborate, well thought out prayer that he offers in chapter one, as well as the simple, spirit prompted petition he makes in chapter 2.

Through these passages (and many more), the Spirit of the Lord has impressed upon my soul the need to “level-up” in prayer in my personal life and in my Pastoral leadership. Desiring to be sensitive and obedient to the Lords very clear call, I want to offer a challenge to each of you that involves going deeper in prayer both personally, and corporately.

On a personal level, I want to challenge you to:

Designate a particular area of your home as “place of prayer”. It could be a bedroom, a closet, the living room table, your workshop, etc. It’s not the place that really matters, it’s the fact that you’ve set it aside as a particular location where you will meet with Jesus every day.
For me, that place is a prayer bench that my oldest daughter and son-in-law built me for my birthday. Each morning since I’ve gotten it, I have spent time with the Lord there. Sometimes I’ll put some worship music on in the background and just spend some time praising Jesus through gratitude. There have been other occasions in which I will simply read from the Psalms, ask the Lord to reveal Himself to me through His Word and then just sit in silence, carefully listening to what He has to say. On most occasions, I have my prayer journal with me, and I write out specific requests that I have as the Lord brings them to mind.

Commit to spending a minimum of 10 minutes of your day communing with the Lord in prayer. Like the location, it’s not the amount of time that’s significant, it’s the intentional decision behind it. Whether you designate 10 minutes or 10 hours to prayer, the act itself is saying, “Lord, I know that prayer matters. I know that I our relationship won’t be properly cultivated without it and I know that fruitfulness and abundance in my own life depends on prayer, so I am committing at least 10 minutes of my day to simply spending time with you through prayer."   

Now, if you are new to the discipline of prayer, 10 minutes may seem like a big ask but as you grow in prayer, you’ll find it to be easier and easier. In fact, 10 minutes soon won’t be sufficient. But starting out, it may be that you may need a prayer guide or a devotional book to prompt and guide you. That’s ok. On many days, I will just open the scriptures and pray Gods promises back to Him or use the lyrics of a hymn or worship chorus to help form my prayers.

Include Three Specific Prayer Points in your time with the Lord each day

Personal Awakening (Renewal): Pray that the Lord would reveal to you any personal iniquity that exist and as He does so, confess that sin to Him and trust Him to forgive you and cleanse you of unrighteousness. Pray that you’d be awakened to the grace, love, holiness, and power of God. Ask the Lord God to stir in us a passion for our first love, to reignite a passion for Him, His church, and His mission. We want a fresh infilling of His Spirit.
Corporate Awakening (Revival): We believe God wants to move in and through His church, amen? Let’s ask Him to do just that. Revival has been defined in many ways by many people, but I see revival simply as a special season of grace and mercy where God pours out His Spirit for sanctification of His saints and the salvation of the lost. Ask God to revive North Anderson so He can use our faith family to impact lives in our community. Ask Him to unite us in spirit, purpose, and mission. He’s already moving in and through our church family, but I believe He desires to open up the windows of Heaven and shower us with His goodness and blessing.
Community Awakening (Awakening): Pray that the power of the Gospel would impact the culture around us. Let’s pray each day that Anderson is awakened to the Kingdom of God. Let’s pray that see Christ through the way we love, serve, share, and live. Ask God to use you to reach the lost, broken, and hopeless with the gospel of Jesus.

On a corporate level, I want to challenge you to be intentional in:

Going above and beyond in praying for one another. This certainly includes interceding for your brothers and sisters as the Spirit brings them to mind and let them know! But also, be intentional in praying for a brother or sister, in real time, as they share a need with you instead of a simple, “I’ll be praying for that need”. As comforting as it is to hear a saint promise to pray for us later, there’s few things as powerful as them dropping what they were doing and lifting us to the Father in the present.

Better utilize the altar on Sundays. Unfortunately, altar prayer is one of those things that the western church, in general, has gotten away from in recent years. While I made Altar prayer a priority early in my tenure at North Anderson, I’ll admit that I’ve not made this a priority in the way that I’ve led. I own that failure and am determined to set it right.
Let me be clear, there is nothing magical about an altar. Again, it’s not the place that’s the main thing, here. It’s the posture.
An altar is a place of humbling, bowing in the presence of a holy God. It is a place of surrender and sacrifice – a place where some things die and others come to life!

Join us for “The Gathering” Beginning March 24th (Palm Sunday), we will host a monthly assembling for prayer that we’re calling “The Gathering”. It will take place every 4th Sunday evening at 6:00pm and the focus will simply be worship and corporate prayer.
To wrap all of this up, in this renewed commitment to personal and corporate prayer, I’m believing God to do exceedingly, abundantly more in my life, the life of my family, and the life of our church. Let’s bombard Heaven in fervent prayer to that end!
I love you all and consider it an honor to be called your Pastor.
Grace, peace, and blessings,
Pastor Kyle