Two weeks ago, nine men met at three in the morning to pray for five hours. Why would we do such a thing? There is an exceptional value in sacrifice. All one needs to look at to understand the principle of sacrifice is to look at the cross of Christ.
In my humble opinion, no one speaks to the subject of prayer like E. M. Bounds. In his book, THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER, and the chapter, Prayer and the House of God, he wrote the following.
"A Church is a sacred place, set apart from all unhollowed and secular uses, for the worship of God. As worship is prayer, the house of God is a place set apart for worship. It is no commonplace; it is where God dwells, where He meets with His people, and He delights in the worship of His saints."
"...Our Lord put peculiar emphasis upon what the Church was when He cast out the buyers and sellers in the Temple, repeating the words from Isaiah, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer." He makes prayer preeminent, that which stands out above all else in the house of God. They who sidetrack prayer or seek to minify it, and give it a secondary place, pervert the Church of God, and make it something less and other than it is ordained to be."
"The inner chamber is a sacred place for personal worship. The house of God is a holy place for united worship. The prayer-closet is for individual prayer. The house of God is for mutual prayer, concerted prayer, united prayer. Yet even in the house of God, there is the element of private worship, since God's people are to worship Him and pray to Him, personally, even in public worship. The Church is for the united prayer of kindred, yet individual believers."
"The life, power, and glory of the Church is prayer ...Without it, the Church is lifeless and powerless. Without it, even the building itself is nothing, more or other, than any other structure. Prayer converts even the bricks, and mortar, and lumber, into a sanctuary, a holy of holies, where the Shekinah dwells. It separates it, in spirit and in purpose from all other edifices. Prayer gives a peculiar sacredness to the building, sanctifies it, sets it apart for God, conserves it from all common and mundane affairs."
"A church with prayer in it has God in it. When prayer is set aside, God is outlawed. When prayer becomes an unfamiliar exercise, then God Himself is a stranger there."
As God's house is a house of prayer, the Divine intention is that people should leave their homes and go to meet Him in His own house ...While it is conceded that the preaching of the Word has an important place in the house of God, yet prayer is its predominating, distinguishing feature ...Prayer is the one distinguishing mark of the house of God. As prayer distinguishes Christian from unchristian people, so prayer distinguishes God's house from all other houses."
"The house of God is a Divine workshop, and there the work of prayer goes on. Or the house of God is a Divine schoolhouse, in which the lesson of prayer is taught, where men and women learn to pray, and where they are graduated, in the school of prayer."
"Any church calling itself the house of God, and failing to magnify prayer; which does not put prayer in the forefront of its activities; which does not teach the great lesson of prayer, should change its teaching to conform to the Divine pattern or change the name of its building to something other than a house of prayer."
Bounds then proceeded to teach some lessons on the priority of scripture in worship and the house of God. He speaks about Ezra and expositional preaching. He does not, in any way, diminish the place of God's Word in the house of God and worship. He concludes this chapter in this way.
"For its successful accomplishment (Preaching), however, a preacher needs must be a man of prayer. For every hour spent in his study-chair, he will have to spend two upon his knees. For every hour he devotes to wrestling with an obscure passage of Holy Writ, he must have two in the which to be found wrestling with God. Prayer and preaching: preaching and prayer! They cannot be separated. The ancient cry was: "To your tents, O Israel! "The modern cry should be: "To your knees, O preacher, to your knees!"
During the five and half hours that we spent together, there was a sweet fellowship as we worshipped God. Words of praise, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession could be heard in the building. We wept together and listened closely to the yearnings of one another's heart. We sought God's heart, confessed our sin, desired His coming kingdom, and interceded for the Church and the world. The needs of the Church become so much clearer in a true spirit of prayer. Everything comes into clear focus when you listen carefully for the voice of God.
When speaking about God giving up His people's enemies, Moses wrote the following in His song of praise to the Elohim of Israel."
"How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up?" In the economy of God, how many people pray matters. God turns the prayers of two into the mediation of ten. From one perspective, a little equals much, but from another, more equal exponentially more. The extraordinary significance of corporate prayer is its magnified value.
Each of God's people's responsibility is not wanting upon gifts of the Spirit, natural abilities, or any such things. Placed upon each believer is the debt of Christ's sufferings. They can never be repaid, but they should never be taken for granted. We serve Christ now out of appreciation for what He did then as a sacrifice, and forever for what He will always do as our intercessory High Priest.
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