To each person who participated in the twenty-four hours of prayer, thank you! I realize some of you physically could not come to the building, but I have no doubt that you prayed for us as a congregation. "How many did come and pray?" I have no idea. "Was it successful?" Very! "How can you say that if you have no idea how many came?"

First, the purpose was to invite God to assume the key role as we select additional elders. That happened. Men and women poured their hearts out to God asking for His guidance and help. Second, it is important to understand what was not the purpose. The purpose was not to statistically impress ourselves. I fear that we too often use statistics to commend ourselves for our efforts rather to honor God in what we do. Never do we want to be like some of the Pharisees who prayed to impress others.

Circumstances brought me to the building before 6 a.m. Friday. Before 6 a.m. an elder arrived to open the building and begin the day of prayer. Joyce and I volunteered for one of the early morning periods Saturday morning. An elder was at the building praying when we arrived. When we left, a former elder was at the building praying. Some of you came more than once. This congregation probably spent more time in focused prayer those twenty-four hours than it has in a long time.

It is simple to listen to sermons or Bible classes about prayer. It is easy to discuss the need for prayer, the power of prayer, the purpose of prayer, the need to express dependence on God, the need to invite God into our lives and work, and God's ability to help. The idea of prayer does not trouble us. Discussing the need for prayer is not intimidating or distressful to most of us. The idea of praying sounds very spiritual.

Actually, when it comes to God's affairs, we tend to invite God's active involvement if we think we cannot handle it by ourselves. "We don't need God to help us select elders. We can handle that just fine. We know what He wants. We can take care of that for Him. If we just pray for God's help in one of the assembly 'prayer slots,' that is enough." Actually, prayer can be considered more of a formality than a dependent plea.

Isn't the difference amazing? "What difference?" The difference between the idea ("everyone needs to pray about 'this!'") and the actual (actually coming to the building and spending some time in prayer about "this").

Does the building possess a "magic" that makes prayer more effective? No. As in all relationships, it is doing the "unnecessary but thoughtful" that allows a person to reveal his or her heart. Deep love seeks special ways to reveal and express itself.

Keep on praying. Reveal your heart to God. Let God guide your heart in your decision.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 16 July 2000

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