Prayer and devotion are part of every Christians daily life. Christian prayers are diverse: they can be completely spontaneous, or read entirely from a text. The most common prayer among Christians is the “Lord’s Prayer”, which according to the gospel accounts (Matthew 6:9-13) Jesus taught his disciples.
The importance of prayer for Lay Preachers, the congregation and wider community should not be under estimated. ‘Prayer’ is not some quaint peculiarity of Christianity. Many faiths and creeds throughout the diversity of human kind have an awareness of praying. The devotion of Muslim, Jew and Buddhist is often observable in many media reports. As Christians ‘Prayer’ is important.
Many people in the pews were taught to pray in their childhood. Those who have been raised in Christian families’ may well have experienced ‘Grace and Meal time devotions. People have been encouraged to pray first thing in the morning and at days end. Prayer happens in the context of a relationship; a love relationship with God. In our typical Church Service there will be a variety of prayers, shared, said and recited.
Using the ‘Acts’ acronym we can remember four sorts of prayer.
- Prayer of Approach, (Adoration)
- Prayer of Confession (Repentance)
- Prayer of Thanks giving (Gratitude)
- Prayer of Supplication (Intercession)
Unfortunately few modern Lay Preachers seem to understood about prayer-saturated lives, prayer-saturated preaching, and prayer-saturated churches. It’s important to realize prayer doesn’t start with us. Prayer starts with God. God is the initiator. He moves us to pray. He gives us prayer ideas. He holds out the promises we claim in prayer. God is at work in all our praying.
Early Christians, preachers seem to have been devoted to prayer. Prayer was a priority in the early Christian church. Where in the leaders were devoted to it. The word devoted literally means “to occupy oneself diligently with something” or “to persist in.” We read in Acts 6:4 that the apostles gave up other duties in order to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. As Lay Preachers we need to make a conscious effort to be people of prayer. We must not overlook the importance of prayer specifically as it relates to the preparation and delivery of powerful biblical sermons?
The most important preparation is the preparation of the preacher. This happens in ones relationship with God, and prayer is an important part of that love relationship. By prayer, we invite the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts and lives, to impress us with the truths of a passage. The sermon needs to be born of prayer and bathed in prayer. The Holy Spirit knows the needs of my listeners, and He will reveal to me the things that they need to hear. Then when we deliver the sermon, the Holy Spirit comes in response to our prayerful invitation and anoints us with power and freedom.
A Church which is committed to prayer-saturation will be conscientiously remembering the Preacher and the congregations in its gathering together times.