A strong foundation is the key to any structure. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $20,000 house or a million-dollar mansion. If the foundation is shaky, the house will likely fall amid the howling winds and storms that enter our life.
The Bible speaks clearly about the need for a strong foundation. We all know the parable about the wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27). When the rain and the winds came, the house built on the rock withstood the pounding.
The foolish man, however, built his house on the sand. When the winds and the rain came, the foolish man’s house collapsed with a great crash.
In June of this year, Southern Baptist editors held a dinner meeting and the guest speaker was Bill Elliff of Arkansas, a longtime pastor, revivalist, consultant and author. He didn’t speak to us that night based on his skills as a writer. Instead, he challenged the editors and writers to enhance our prayer lives. He gave us all a copy of his new book, Simply Prayer. I normally don’t endorse or recommend books but this is a must read for anyone who feels his or her prayer life is not what it needs to be.
And, of course, God knows I need all the help and prodding I can get, so guess who was the guest speaker at the recent Focus Week (staff retreat) of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board? Again, it was Bill Elliff and he spent two full days talking to the staff about prayer. He also talked about the need for revival and spiritual awakening, not only in Tennessee but across our nation and the world.
A lot of the material he provided came directly from his book. He asked two questions that caught everyone’s attention: Who is the most important person in the room? The answer was not anyone because of position, power or prestige. The most important person in any room, Elliff said, is the person who prays. The second question really hit home for me. “Is prayer your foundation or a side room?”
Think about it. One, does your church have a prayer room and is it easily accessible and used? I attended a church once that had an excellent prayer room but it was in the basement and not that easy to find.
Elliff wrote, “Most churches have multiple components. There is the worship ministry, the preaching ministry, the children and student ministry, the missions ministry. Off to the side — peripheral at best — is the prayer ministry. It is small and even non-existent in most churches and a sign of our urgent need for revival.”
In his book, Elliff challenged his audience to read the 650 passages in the Bible on prayer “and determine where prayer should fit into your life and your church.”
Every Christian needs to make that determination for his or herself. We all have to ask ourselves, “Is prayer my foundation or a side room?”
If we are truly honest, many, not all, will have to confess that we too often regulate prayer to a side room where we go when (or if) we have time or have an urgent need. For us to combat the evil in our world today, we have to let prayer be our foundation for our life and our ministry. Prayer is not an option, prayer is a necessity.
My sincere prayer is that Tennessee Baptists will make prayer the foundation that undergirds all of our ministries. Without a foundation of prayer, these ministries won’t make an impact on the kingdom. B&R Note: Elliff’s book, Simply Prayer, is available from amazon.com.