I recently preached a message called Establishing a Culture of Prayer. In this message I used illustrations from the book of Acts to show that prayer was engrained into the life of the early church. Praying together was foundational to the early church’s existence.
What exactly is a “culture of prayer?”
One way to look at it, is that a culture of prayer is simply when prayer is normal. When lifting our voices together to God is not awkward or out of the ordinary. When laying hands on each other to pray for healing is common. When prayer is no longer seen as a last resort but as a first priority.
The book of James outlines this type of culture:
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
James describes various situations, and the appropriate response to all of them is some form of prayer. Notice how many times the words pray, prayer, and prayed are used in the above passage.
James describes praying when suffering, praising when cheerful, being prayed over when sick, confessing sins and praying for one another, and finishes by highlighting the powerful and persevering prayers of Elijah. He is careful to remind us that Elijah was only human like the rest of us. In other words, powerful praying that get answers is within the grasp of everyone who calls on the name of Jesus.
God is raising up a praying people across the earth today. He is intent that His “house shall be called a house of prayer.” (Matthew 21:13). A culture of prayer is the atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit moves. It is the catalyst for God’s intervention in the world. It is the place where heaven invades earth!