In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalm 5:3
Murray Wade, an elder at the Oak Ridge church of Christ was born in Oregon, but didn’t become a Christian until he met Beth in college while they were both getting their degrees in Biology. We didn’t meet them until they came to visit Murray’s brother who worshipped with us for a while in Beaverton, Oregon in the late 90’s.
Murray invited Mark to preach for the church in Oak Ridge some years ago, and since then he and Beth have come back to Oregon to spend time with us at our beach house. We had planned on staying with them just a handful of days, but when they invited us to stay for Thanksgiving, we ended up enjoying each other’s company for a relaxing, productive couple weeks instead.
One of our favorite things to do with the Wades is to hike because Beth’s degree is in horticulture, so she educates us on all the interesting information around the plant life around us, while Murray, as an ornithologist, is a regular tour guide when it comes to the identifying the call of the birds all around us and explaining their unique behaviors. Our mid-November visit was perfect for enjoying all their autumn color in the woods outside our Airstream where I wrote and recorded. Murray and Beth labor earnestly with the good congregation here, but there is one unique way they set a special example.
In Acts 2:42, the early church was said to be, among other things, continually devoting themselves to prayer. Almost 2000 years later, the church of Christ in Oak Ridge, Tennessee continues to build their congregation up in this same beautiful way. In fact, each morning at 9:00am for about 10 or 15 minutes they gather online face to face to approach the throne of grace together and there a volunteer brother in Christ leads them in expressing their praise, thanking the Lord, and making intercession for whatever needs have been communicated by the flock.
That is an exceptional amount of prayer time together. I mean, when we include their meeting in person for class and worship, by the end of the week, they may have prayed a couple hours together. Like the apostles in Acts 6:4, they are entirely devoted to prayer. And like Epaphras, they are “always laboring earnestly” in their prayers (Colossians 4:12). No wonder this congregation is growing! They pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) because they’ve come to realize there are not many things more effective than asking an omnipotent and compassionate God for help. And when His answers to our prayers are so stunningly obvious, it is not only awe-inspiring, it is very, very faith building. God has been proving His trustworthiness and lovingkindness since day one, in each and every one of our lives. What a track record!
Prayer is an opportunity to witness first hand that with God all things are possible, "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Matthew 21:22). I think you’d agree, when we see how effective the prayer of a righteous man is, clearly, none of us can afford to be undisciplined or haphazard in one of the single most important aspects of life --- our prayer life.
Prayer is so much more than reciting a wish list. All the facets of prayer deserve a balanced focus --- that is, praise, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession, along with those requests. If you are one who is disciplined around the habit of daily Bible study listening to what God had to say, could you use more discipline in habitually pouring your heart out to God? Both listening and talking to God are keys to intimacy with Him.
Let’s each ask ourselves, “How’s my consistency?” Does it take a crisis to hit before we are consistently on our knees behind closed doors? Can we honestly say we are truly devoted to prayer? (Romans 12:12). And if we are not, what have been the unseen ripple effects of that loss of focus? It’s hard to think about what our “hit and miss” approach to prayer may have prevented the church from accomplishing. Instead, let's visualize what the church would look like if we all recommitted ourselves to being entirely devoted to prayer. Prayer so changes things. It has in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and it will in your congregation as well.
Oak Ridge church of Christ
225 North Purdue Avenue
Oak Ridge, TN 37830