The second mark of the true church is an active prayer life.
The church seeks to know and to follow God’s will. An authentic missional church is a praying church. It never loses sight of the fact that they are God’s people, who are sustained by God’s power and acutely aware that they are guided by God’s purpose and plan. Christians are committed not only to doing God’s will but also to doing ministry God’s way. How is that accomplished through praying with bold persistence?
“And I tell you: Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.” Lk 11:9-10
The Apostle Luke shares with the world what Jesus taught them about praying, with a bold persistence. Jesus uses an illustration of a man coming to a friend for help. At first, the friend says it is late, and the children are in bed. In other words, this is an awful time. Come back at a more acceptable time. Because to go and unbolt the door would awaken the children. However, the friend was bold in his tenacity. He would keep asking, keep knocking and keep seeking. The lesson for the Church about prayer to our Lord revolves around these three different aspects.
The concept of “Ask” is commonly used for prayer. To best understand this, it must explain that in the Greek it is not an imperative of command (“You must ask to receive”) but as an imperative of condition (“If you ask, you will indeed receive). The force of this Scripture is not a command of Jesus to pray, but instead an invitation to prayer.
Therefore, our Heavenly Father proves to us that he is our Father, and we are, indeed, his precious children by giving to us those things that are beneficial to us.
“Searching” is frequently used to describe seeking after/for God
“You will seek the Lord your God from there, and you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your being.” Deut. 4:29
“Seek the Lord when he can still be found; call him while he is yet near.” Isaiah 55:6
I like to describe it this way. God places a God-size hole in the human soul. That can only be satisfied and filled with the presence of the Almighty. For us to seek God is to desire that spiritual connection with God’s face through prayer.
I have heard this described as we “knocked at the gates of mercy and finding that they were open to us.”
This verse is an example of the divine passive (“it will be given to you” means God will give it to you. In saying “it will be opened to you” means God will open it to you) and of Jesus’ use of exaggeration, makes it very clear that not all prayers are answered. Prayers that are answered are those in line with God’s will and would include an implied reference to Jesus’ prayers in the garden before His date with Calvary “…yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
With consistency and bold persistence, the Church learns to develop a healthy, vibrant prayer life.
The third mark is one that is often controversial in our Church because we have very definitive ideas of what worship should contain. I will not get into forms or structure. That is for another time.
The authentic missional church is a place of dynamic, engaging Christ-centered worship. The styles may vary, but the worship strokes the heart and soul of the worshipper. The Word of God engages and involves people in the mystical union of God and His people. This vibrant worship happens as the Word of God is preached and Christ’s body and blood are shared in the breaking of bread. In worship, the people engage God in corporate and individual prayer which invites God’s will to be done in their midst and in the lives of those in the community they have been called to serve. For those who have taken advantage of God’s invitation to honor the Sabbath, when they leave the House of God there is little doubt that they have been in the presence of Almighty God. The members have been impacted by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word, music, prayer and the Means of Grace. That is what vibrant worship looks like, and it is not based on a form it is based on the substance of the worship service.
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