R.T. Kendall in his book, “The Midnight Cry”, says that in Kentucky they say, “Backsliding starts in the knees”. What they mean is that Christians and churches start sliding backwards in their relationship with God when they stop living a life of prayer. A healthy Christian and church lives a life of prayer, but in time they can slide back into just living a life with prayer (i.e. sparingly attend or have prayer meetings with no real heart for it) and then eventually live a life of no prayer (no prayer meetings, no daily devotions, no fervent calling on the Lord in the day of trouble).
As we enter a new year, this is a good time to evaluate our lives, and the life of our churches, to see what our prayer meter reads. I believe that the church is in for a rough ride in the days ahead and my prayer is that instead of giving in and giving up to the godless trends of our culture, we will rise up in prayer and become a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. When Jesus was faced with temptation, He prayed (Mk.1:12,13; Mt.26:36-42) and told his disciples to watch and pray when they were facing temptation too. And when He talked about the difficulties that are leading up to the end of the end times, and how to be ready for His return, He said “watch and pray” (Mk.13:33).
When the early church, like the church today, was told to stop telling people about Jesus and all that He commanded (Mt.28:18-20), what did they do? They had a prayer meeting! They didn’t just go to their own personal prayer closets (though I’m sure they did that too), they came together to encourage one another, to welcome the Presence of the Holy Spirit and to pray prayers of agreement. Then they prayed like Jesus told them to when He said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send/thrust out workers into his harvest field.” (Mt.9:38). They said, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus,” (Ac.4:29-30). The result was that they were thrust out into the world, like a shot out of a cannon, and changed it. May we become that kind of people and church.