The central act of discipleship is mission. The main point of the church is mission. The mission of Jesus’ followers is the following of Jesus’ mission. These were some of the things Paul shared with us from Mt 10 and Mk 6 last week. I completely agree, as would anyone who has had a good read of the New Testament.
But it got me thinking: how could we ever possibly live up to fulfilling the mission of Jesus? And then it struck me: the quality and quantity of our prayer lives individually and corporately directly corresponds to our effectiveness in fulfilling Jesus’ mission. That is, a weak and minimal prayer life equals a heart thin on love for others and a life ineffective for Jesus. God still loves such a person, but they just aren’t very helpful to His cause. You can’t possibly have deep compassion for others, energy to work and act as agents of God’s kingdom, nor bear the good news of Jesus to another person unless you are relying on God and the empowering of His Spirit through prayer.
And this led me to consider the need to pray together as we support and encourage each other to live for Jesus and his mission. Tim Keller says it well:
“Prayer is therefore not a private thing. As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally. Why? If the substance of prayer is to continue a conversation with God, and if the purpose of it is to know God better, then this can happen best in community.
C. S. Lewis argues that it takes a community of people to get to know an individual person. Reflecting on his own friendships, he observed that some aspects of one of his friend’s personality were brought out only through interaction with a second friend. That meant if he lost the second friend, he lost the part of his first friend that was otherwise invisible. “By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.” If it takes a community to know an ordinary human being, how much more necessary would it be to get to know Jesus alongside others? By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.
That is why, Lewis thinks, that the angels in Isaiah 6 are crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another. Each angel is communicating to all the rest the part of the glory it sees. Knowing the Lord is communal and cumulative, we must pray and praise together. That way “the more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.” Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. 118-19.
Your prayer life as a member of KBC is of great interest and importance to me. Our effectiveness and faithfulness to Jesus’ mission is tied irrevocably to our praying. It’s hard work; but then again, so was dying on a cross to save the world.