Congregational Life and Ministry

The Marks of the True Church: Prayer and Worship


The second mark of the true church is an active prayer life.

  1. Empowering 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.

  • Keep Asking

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.

  • Keep Searching

“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.

  • Keep Knocking

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.


  1. Vibrant and Christ-centered Worship

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.


Other posts in this series:



How To Pray With A Thankful Spirit

The Light Breaks Through


Corrie ten Boom in The Hiding Place relates an incident that taught her always to be thankful. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp. They had not seen Ravensbruck. On entering the barracks, they found them it overcrowded and flea-infested.

That morning, their Scripture reading was 1 Thessalonians. It would remind them to rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first refused to give thanks for the fleas. But Betsy persisted, and Corrie finally succumbed to her pleadings. During the months they spent at that camp, they were surprised at how freely they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings, without guard interference. It was not until several months later that they learned the reason the guards would not enter the…

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The Benefits of Praying The Bible


When I take the time to marvel at the power of God in my life, I am in awe.  God speaks to me through music.  In the intimacy of my headphones and a great song or hymn, God pours love and mercy into my heart.  So I thought about sharing with you a spiritual discipline; praying the Scriptures.

Through the lyrics of the song, “Word of God Speak” by MercyMe, God spoke to my heart about prayer through the power of music.


I’m finding myself at a loss for words

And the funny thing is it’s okay

The last thing I need is to be heard

But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak

Would you pour down like rain

Washing my eyes to see

Your majesty

To be still and know

That you’re in this place

Please let me stay and rest

In your holiness

Word of God speak

Praying God’s Word

Why would we want to pray God’s word? I think the songwriter hits the nail on the head.  There are just those moments in life where we just can’t find the phrase.  It is possible in those moments that we are hurting.  We can be so beaten down by the world that there is nothing in our heart to bring before God.  There are no words, only pain.  In those moments we know we need his strength, his healing, but we are emotionally and spiritually empty.  We need God to speak to us.  We need to hear a word of hope.  Our soul needs to be reminded of his majesty.  That broken spirit needs just to be still and know that he is almighty and sitting on the throne.  In those moments why not read the words of the author of creation?

Your prayers are never stronger than when you are praying the Scriptures. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 4, verse 12 says, “God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions.”  God’s words are powerful.  Whether we are reading them or using them as our basis for prayer, why not tap into the powerful promises of God?

To comfort you, know this dear one, not only does God hear our prayers. He vows to answer them when those prayers are in line with His will.

Benefits of Praying the Scriptures

Praying the Scriptures will increase your spiritual development. As you pray God’s word, you begin to see and hear how God acted and answered other followers.  As you see God in action, you learn that He is faithful.  You see the faith stories of those who trusted the Almighty.  Those stories provide us with an inner peace and confidence in the love and protection of God.  The Bible is filled with the testimonies of many people who saw God appear in their lives and provide for the needs.

You can live a stress-free life if you will only just pray.  When you pray you are turning the situation over to God. You’re taking the situation out of your hands, and laying it in His hands. You’re releasing it to God.  There are no more capable hands to place our cares in other than the loving arms of our savior.  The one who cared so deeply for us that he gave his life for you.

Other posts in this series on Prayer:


What to Pray In the Midst of Persecution​?

Man Looking Up At Stars

In this post, we continue our discussion on prayer. This post is a four-part series on praying with boldness through problems.  The emphasis today is praying to the Creator of the Universe.

In Acts, chapter 4, the church and Christ’s disciples are being persecuted and harassed.  After one final and futile attempt to intimidate and silence the apostles by the Sanhedrin, they were released. Peter and John returned in the Greek to “…their own (people).” We do not know the number of individuals counted, but it was not the entire church which now consisted of 5,000 men. The two reported all that had happened to them and all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

The first response of this group of believers was a bit unusual. They immediately turned their attention to Old Testament Scriptures, which referred to God as the Creator of all.  It is interesting the way the believers dealt with this persecution.  How they handled their problems I pray will give us insights on how to address our problems.

They Praised God as Creator.

That is an acknowledgment that God is in control of all things.

When I am feeling weak and overwhelmed by the troubles ahead of me, I don’t need a bigger version of myself to rely on. I need a smaller version of me and larger version of my God.  I need to come to grips with the truth that I may not be able to control things happening all around me.  So I need to raise my voice to the heavens and know and believe that there is a living, Almighty and powerful God who will come to my aid and work on my behalf!  I need a Creator-of-the-Universe size, God.

Hear the praise dripping from the lips of those who experienced this Creator-of-the-Universe size, God.

“When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,

and the people’s plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers were gathered together,

against the Lord and against his Anointed.’

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.[1]” Acts 4:23-24

Oh, give thanks that God is God! When we pray, we should pray that the Holy Spirit would give us a bigger view of who God is. He alone is God.  God has no equal.  He takes a backseat to no one, and nothing is impossible or too difficult for Him! After all, he made the heavens and the earth.  Is there anything our God cannot do? That was the point the believers were making.  That is why they went back to the Old Testament.  Back to where it all began to remember just how powerful and impressive, our God is.  The creator God reminds us that He is in control of all things because He created all things.

September 11, 2001, is a day that is still too fresh in most of our minds. I remember that day feeling small and insignificant. There was this feeling of being “out of control.” One man who had no control over his world that day was Stanley Praimnath. Little did Stanley know when he prayed for his family that morning just how much he would need the blood of Jesus to cover and protect him. Stanley worked on the 81st floor of Tower #2 as a vice president for Fuji Bank Limited. He was at his desk on the phone when he saw the second plane coming straight for him. What can you do in the face of certain death? He jumped under his desk as the aircraft crashed into the building. The plane was burning just twenty feet away from him, but God miraculously helped Stanley and another man make it down all 81 flights of stairs before the building collapsed. Stanley knew that he was powerless to do anything, but God was in control and spared his life. He said, “…it was the handiwork of the Lord that turned that plane. My Lord Jesus is bigger than the Trade Center, and His finger can push a plane aside!”

The psalmist David knew what it was like for his life to be out of control. David’s enemies were trying to murder him. Was David overcome with fear? Was he paralyzed by his attackers? It all goes back to the idea that God is the maker, the creator, as these verses remind us:

  He is the one who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He is the one who keeps every promise forever.  Ps. 146:6

 O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Is. 37:1

David had learned that in the same way he had once cared for his sheep keeping the lion or bear from attacking and destroying the flock that God would watch over his children. David rested in the confidence that God was in control.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 4:23–28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.