A Culture of Prayer
What do exercise and prayer have in common?
A. More people talk about doing it than actually do it.
B. The more you do it, the more you are motivated to do it.
C. It takes personal discipline to make it a habit.
D. It helps to do it with someone else who will keep you accountable.
E. All of the above.
I sat in our conference room last week with three groups of parents exploring how we could make prayer for LCS a more significant element of our school culture. I think there would be a high level of agreement that the answer to the question above is “E.” We all realize prayer is a critical necessity in the life of our school and the lives of our children and we all sense that we would do well to cultivate an environment conducive to exercising this means of grace.
There are certainly plenty of areas that can be targeted for school improvement these days. A quick review of the marketing emails that fill my inbox include programs to address bullying, core curriculum, drugs, secular world views, morality, writing skills, math fundamentals, community service, and even a juggler to teach your students concepts in science! I’m sure at least some of these have their place, but I sense that some schools expend a lot of energy and resources pursuing some program in hopes that it will be the “silver bullet” that will provide the answers to the riddles their schools are facing.
Why is it that we are so quick to involve ourselves in a wide variety of activities that we hope will allegedly help our children get an edge in life and yet neglect this divine priority? What is it that causes us to overlook the most accessible means of grace? The scriptures are filled with promises that God bids his people to call on him (Jeremiah 33:3; Philippians 4:6; James 5:16; I Thessalonians 5:17) and affirming his desire to respond. There are far more promises from God to give us hope for the time we invest in prayer for our children than for most of the other activities that capture our imagination.
Several years ago there was a widely acclaimed research study that announced that patients with serious illnesses who prayed regularly recovered at a higher rate than patients who did not. The researchers concluded that praying had some kind of mystical therapeutic effect on the patients. At no time was there any consideration of the fact that there might be a god hearing those prayers who would actually respond and act on behalf of the patient. Their presuppositions did not include the reality of God. (Hebrews 11:6) The power is not in the prayer. It is all about the fact that there is One who hears and answers prayer.
Prayers are not the currency that we place in the divine vending machine in hopes that when we put enough in, we get what we want. God is much more than the cosmic butler. He is, as Francis Schaeffer said, the God who is there. The God of the Bible is the One who bids his people to come to Him on behalf of our children asking Him for the redemptive and transforming work of the Holy Spirit in their lives to give them “all that pertains to life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
Prayer is the intersection of the recognition of our dependent state, our great need, and the realization of who God is. It helps to restore our perspective, weaken our fallen sense of self sufficiency and enable us to grow in grace. Praying with others also deepens our sense of community among believers as well as recognizes God’s promise, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”(Matthew 18:20)
The conclusions from our conversations last week included the following:
- We acknowledge the priority of prayer in the life of LCS and the lives of our students.
- We want to provide a variety of opportunities for parents and students to pray together.
- The focus must remain on prayer rather than a program, system, or activities that may detract from praying.
I encourage you to be alert to coming announcements of opportunities to invest more time in praying for our students, staff, parents, board, and the overall ministry of LCS. The opportunities will be varied to provide for those who want to pray aloud with others and those who prefer to come to the Lord in the quietness of their heart. One size won’t fit all. Regardless of your personal preference, let’s all take advantage of God’s desire to work in the lives of all of us when we call upon Him. The dividends will be eternal!
–Originally posted in 2012