Several months ago, I picked up several books that have to do with churches praying. The concept of being a church that spends time praying together has been heavy upon my heart. And so I want to read more about this concept. One of the first books I have read is The Church that Prays Together by Elmer Towns & Daniel Henderson.
In this book, Towns and Henderson take a look at ten different types of churches and how they make prayer central to their mission. The premise of the book was intriguing to me as I wanted to see how different churches integrate prayer into their ministry. And believe me when I say this, they look at different churches. But they are clear from the beginning that they are going to look at all different shapes and sizes of churches.
"First, we wanted to look at several different denominations, because people from different theological persuasion can pray and get answers to their prayers. Second, we wanted to look at different sizes of churches. We believe small-, medium-, and mega-size churches are all uniquely privileged by God to do His work through prayer." (12).
While they say they are going to talk about the prayer life of 10 Dynamic Churches, they only talk about nine of them (although, one is in two locations, so maybe that is why there is a discrepancy). The nine churches they investigate are:
- Jefferson Baptist Church; Jefferson, Oregon
- The Brooklyn Tabernacle; Brooklyn, New York
- Second Baptist Church; Houston, Texas
- Arcade Church; Sacramento, California
- Lakeview Wesleyan Church; Marion, Indiana
- Christ Fellowship; Palm Gardens, Florida
- Central Christian Church of East Valley; Mesa & Gilbert, Arizona
- Vietnamese Baptist Church; Houston, Texas
- Thomas Road Baptist Church; Lynchburg, Virginia
Let me share about the one church that impacted me the most and why. Pastor Dee Duke of Jefferson Baptist Church firmly believes that the way a church becomes a prayer church is only if the pastors of the church pray. After being convicted of this, he set seven specific goals for his life and ministry concerning prayer, which they quote on page 18:
- Spend on uninterrupted hour per day praying by himself.
- Spend one hour per day praying with at least one other person.
- Pray for everyone in the church by name weekly.
- Pray at least once per month with other pastors.
- Preach on prayer for three months.
- Plan four major church prayer events each year (always to precede a major evangelistic thrust).
- Identify the church's 'farm' (twenty miles in every direction from the church), claim it, and target prayer for it.
Now, I can take issue with some of these things (for instance, the claiming the church's farm . . . I'm not even sure what that means). But the thing that impressed me is that he committed to praying. I bet there were days and weeks in which he didn't reach his goal. But it made a conscious decision to begin praying.
I wonder if sometimes, we make things way too complicated. I know I do. Even in reading this book, I want to find out what churches do when it comes to prayer. And what I know I should do is to pray. Simply pray. The older I get in my spiritual life with Christ, the more I realize I don't pray enough. I know we probably all could say that, but I'm saying it. I don't pray like I should. I'm lazy. I'm way too content to live off my own strengths and energy. I'm way too self-dependent.
That needs to change. I hope it does.