I recently found myself writing an email carrying the simple message that ‘prayer is the most important work of the Church in the earth’. Having pressed send, I began to reflect upon the phrase. Then, having written it, I asked myself, do I believe it? I know I actually spend more time worrying about life’s untidy details than I do in actual prayer. And when it comes to that often-sung phrase of laying down my burdens at the feet of Jesus, I am embarrassed to say I know I often walk away with a rucksack hung upon my back. So what was I actually saying?
In a material world, in which so much of our value system has been built around possessions, ownership and lifestyle choices, it is perhaps unsurprising that something as apparently invisible and non-material as the work of prayer has been lost from the public consciousness.
It is worth recalling that Jesus, following his ascension, now stands and intercedes on our behalf before his Father; this same Jesus whose earthly life was marked by regular times of both personal and public prayer. Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ (NRSV) and conveys the thought that prayer is perhaps the primary engine that fuels all kingdom endeavour upon the earth.
Prayer builds the highway along which the will and purpose of God can travel into spaces far distant from the place in which I pray. Prayer is itself a source of great power for good. Prayer might seem an insubstantial and therefore insufficient response to the many, varied, complex issues of our age. Yet prayer has the power to move mountains. Its power can only ever be released in as far as we engage in the activity of ceaseless prayer. I need to have confidence in my conviction that, ‘prayer is the most important work of the Church in the earth’!
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings