“We must believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted with us a force that can move the Heavenly world and bring its power down to earth”…Andrew Murray
I want you to take a moment with me and imagine a scenario. You’ve been tasked to build something- a very big something, and a very important something. It doesn’t really matter what it is- you pick the project. All that matters is that it’s big, and important– and that you’ve never, ever built one before.
Needless to say, no matter your level of skill or expertise, this would be a difficult, and perhaps anxiety inducing, assignment. Chances are, you’d feel pretty well in over your head as you set out to complete this task. Sure, you may have a few ideas of how to go about it, and you even make some measurable progress as you attempt to enact those ideas. But regardless of how much forward motion you make, the task is so overwhelmingly big- and its completion so frustratingly elusive- that the proverbial “finish line” never does seem to get much closer.
But let’s just say you happen to personally know someone who has built one of these very big, very important somethings before. In fact, you know the only person who has ever successfully completed one. In many ways, you’re enamored with this person and his off-the-charts ability. You read about his past exploits. You marvel at pictures of his finished works. You get together with your friends and discuss just how fantastically skilled he is, and just how much help he would be in completing your very big, very important something. In all of these ways and more, you just can’t seem to say enough about this person.
This being the case, how exceedingly foolish would it be if you never actually picked up the phone to call this person? All the glowing talk, all the admiring thought, all the honest intention in the world does no good at all if you never actually engage the “master builder” in the project at hand, requesting His direct and personal assistance.
As evidently foolish as such a failure to act might seem to us, I’m afraid that this is exactly how we often approach the most significant “building project” any of us has ever been given- namely, the building of God’s church in this world. Most Jesus followers- myself included- would likely give lip service to the reality that we have no power to accomplish things of spiritual significance apart from the intervening grace and power of God, the “Master Builder.” Despite this supposed belief, though, many of us live practically as though we can somehow get along just alright without Him.
How do we do this? Primarily, through a failure to pray. Prayer is one of those things that most everyone would agree is a good idea. But too often, this practice remains just that- a good idea, thought about and talked about but all too rarely done. Particularly in the American church, where we are resourced up to our eyeballs, we are prone to neglect the most critical Resource of all- God Himself!
Make no mistake- Prayerlessness is faithlessness. We can talk about God until we’re blue in the face, claiming just how dependent we are on Him, but until we actually “pick up the phone” and call out to Him in desperation, we betray our lack of actual faith, instead depending wholly on ourselves. In the meantime, we may build something that resembles His church, but it will never have the structural integrity or staying power that God desires and intends. A church without prayer is a church without true power.
Do you find yourself falling into this subtle spiritual trap? I know I do. I can think about God all day, and even talk about Him regularly (I do this for a living!), and at the same time display a stunning neglect of actual, direct engagement with Him. We can do this corporately, as a church family, as well as personally. And the scariest part is, we can move right along with the illusion of progress while remaining disconnected from the only One who is able to affect the depth and breadth of transformation that we say we’re after.
Friends, we must repent of our prayerlessness, and instead respond to God’s open invitation to call on Him to move in power and love. We must “pick up the phone” to heaven personally, purposefully, and persistently, believing that when we do, God will hear us, and He will respond to us in perfect love and wisdom. Can you imagine the church- and the transformed lives- that could be “built” when we throw ourselves humbly at the feet of the One who has promised to “build His church”? Heaven only knows what will be possible when we move beyond our good intentions to obedient action. I’m praying- not just thinking, and not just talking- that we’ll answer this call personally and corporately this very day, and every day to come, and in the process God accomplish more than we ask, think, or imagine possible.