“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) These are some of the most pointed words in Scripture, words that pierce to the very depths of one’s soul. God clearly expects His people to be mature, Christ-like, serving Him and one another, and doing righteousness. Yet…what preacher doesn’t feel the chill that greets his thoughtful, carefully exegeted, Bible-based sermons? Week after week, he looks in vain for some trace of godliness stirring in the pews. The lethargy, the indifference, the absorption with self, these things grieve the one in the pulpit charged with igniting a fire that won’t light.
God has called us – all believers – to personal communion with Himself. Until we’re in His ineffable presence, prayer and meditation on His Word are the means by which a vital relationship occurs. Ministering the Word in America today is not a problem. Internet, books, radio and tv, there’s a surfeit of commentary and expository material available to the humblest Christian. What’s missing is prayer.
Why pray? To deepen our faith, of course. Surely it’s not to tell God what’s going on, as if the wise Ruler of the cosmos who sees our hearts has to have us inform Him what needs to be done. (Matthew 6:8) Prayer can’t be to change God’s mind, or change His will about anything. No. We pray to change us! So if there’s anything desperately lacking in America’s churches today, let’s say it, it’s prayer. We lead essentially prayer-less lives, so we know nothing of the presence of God in our lives.
The ministry we present here seeks to address this issue. We know the Spirit empowers us to be mature and sanctified. So the vision we seek to impart is enjoining all the members of a congregation to pray for one another. The prayer, specifically, is that another person, the prayer target, will grow in spirituality, seek to serve Christ, increase in obedience to the Word, in short, fulfill Philippians 2:12. The prayer is offered in the hope and expectation that the Holy Spirit will sovereignly bring that target to repentance and revival. And, at the same time, it is hoped that the one praying for growth in the target will break out of his or her mold of selfishness and likewise grow in concern for the needs of others. How could I pray for so-and-so’s increased obedience to the Word without realizing my need to obey it too? Repeated, daily prayer for another should create in us the habit – if not the desire – of communing with God, of looking to see Him at work answering our prayers, of enjoying the sweetness of being alone with Him.
A renewed emphasis on prayer triggering the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, coupled with exhortation from the pulpit, in God’s will may bring the revival we long to see. In our view, few ministries in the church are as strategic and as critically needed at this moment in history as this one.