We should pray for the church. You really can’t say anything less debatable than that. But it bears repeating. Because most of us ought to do it more and could use some help to do it better.
Prayer is communication with God, and it is spiritual exercise. We know we need physical activity but neglect to flex our spiritual muscles. We understand the cost of countless hours sitting at a desk or reclining on a couch. Failure to get up and move saps our body’s strength. It can make us depressed and even shorten our life.
What about the body of Christ? It too suffers the consequences of motionlessness. When the body’s parts don’t get up and pray, infirmity creeps in. Fatigue, discouragement, apathy and dissension spread like cancer. Christ’s body gets sick.
Prayer can cure what ails the church. Healing begins with small rewards, like a positive attitude. Just as going out for a run improves one’s mood, a few spiritual laps of prayer could make us more joyful and loving members of Christ’s body.
Running is easier with a companion and a goal. Prayer is too. Sunday morning in church is a great time and place to find companions and set goals. But what about the other six days?
The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches has produced an excellent model for promoting prayer for the church. Its eight-page “Week of Prayer” insert in Mennonite Brethren Herald is both informative and practical. It outlines seven days of prayer on a coast-to-coast tour from British Columbia to Atlantic Canada. A brief history of MBs in each province and a summary of current ministries accompanies specific prayer requests.
Of Saskatchewan we learn that an oil, gas and mining boom has made the province “a destination for skilled workers from China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Saskatchewan’s churches are reaching out to their new neighbors with initiatives like Forest Grove’s multi-campus expansion plans and Lanigan’s growing circle of missional communities.”
In British Columbia, 44 percent of the population claims no religious identity. But the province has more than twice as many MB congregations — 113 — as any other.
In Quebec, secularism “has scrubbed away religion from people’s lives… . Resources and energy [in the conference] are stretched, but spirits are strong.”
To aid in prayer for the global church, Mennonite World Conference posts prayer requests on its website, mwc-cmm.org. A recent one: “Pray for the Kutuzivka Mennonite Church in Ukraine, which is building a new church in the neighboring village of Molochansk, where most of the members live… . A depressed economy presents challenges.”
We should pray as Col. 1:9-10 says: “Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will… . And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way.”
We should pray, because Christ’s body needs the exercise.