Oak Ridge church of Christ in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

“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 worshiped with us for a while in Beaverton, Oregon, in the late 90s. 

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 for 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 of weeks instead. 

One of our favorite things to do with the Wades is hiking. Since Beth’s degree is in horticulture, she educates us on on these explorations about all the interesting facts related to the local plant life, while Murray, 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 all their autumn color in the woods outside the windows of our van from which I wrote and recorded, until we’d all take a break from our work to enjoy our daily walks and talks. 

Murray and Beth labor earnestly with the good congregation here, but there is one unique way this congregation sets a special example. Like the early church in Acts 2:42 that was said to be, among other things, continually devoting themselves to prayer the church of Christ in Oak Ridge, Tennessee continues to build their congregation up in this same beautiful way, almost 2,000 years later. Each morning at 9:00 a.m. for about 10 or 15 minutes they gather online “face-to-face” to approach the throne of grace together. A volunteer brother in Christ leads them in expressing their praise, thanking the Lord, and making intercession for whatever needs have been communicated by this tight-knit flock.

That is an exceptional amount of prayer time together. I mean, when we consider their meeting in person for class and worship, by the end of the week, they may have prayed a couple of 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 every one of our lives. What a track record! 

Prayer is so much more than merely reciting a wish list. All the facets of prayer deserve a balanced focus — praise, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession should all be included along with those requests. Both listening and talking to God are keys to building intimacy with Him. 

Prayer is an opportunity to witness firsthand 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. 

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 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