The saying”A prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian” is a common saying in the church with almost a general acceptance.
The impression behind this christian adage is that prayer as an act has power in itself. These mindsets have led most Christians to depend simply on prayer for Christian life; they consider prayer to be the live-wire or life support for spiritual life! You need to go to the church and see the frenzy of worship given to “prayer” this days!
While such beliefs have some truths based on the fact that prayer generally is an important aspect of Christian life, but this extreme ideology is unscriptural and destructive.
Prayer can be worshipped as an idol. When prayer as a religious practice become what we simply depend on for life, prayer then takes the place of God and then become a god to us. Serious care must be taken because this belief can subtly slip into our Christian life unknown. We could claim to pray to God, but deep down our hearts, we are simply counting on our prayers not really on Christ to whom we pray.
The fact that this is true with the church is evident in the church by the attitudes of ” spiritual and mature Christians.” By this I mean, Christians who take pride and boast about their prayer life compare to other people in church; they boast of how articulate, long and frequent they can pray. The church community has shown this by the passive tradition that celebrates and recognise”prayer committed christians” as powerful few individual Christians.
Do not get me wrong, I am not against prayer. Prayer is a scriptural injunction (1 Thess. 5:17). I do pray and I love prayer. However, the attitude the church is developing on pray over the years is worrisome!
When we simply depend on prayer for spiritual strength we built false life. The sustenance of our spiritual life does come from prayer as a practice but God. Therefore, it is simply religious and deceptive to depend on prayer for christian livelihood.
Because of such ideology, Some Christians have always expect to have strange supernatural power and feelings to sustain them through prayer. But because we are meant not to naturally possess some supernatural power with us, we feel disappointed.
However, this false ideology that life should be dependent on prayer will not just let us face the reality of who we truly are and then we are force to live falsely and presumptuously that we possess some supernatural power while feeling deep down empty inside of us.
Sources of Apostolic Spiritual Strength
Going through the book of acts baffled me how simple the Apostles took christian life compared to christian practice today. It is clear that the church at the inception was a praying church but they never view prayer as an act to be their source of power.
The church depended on the name of Jesus to be the source of its power. Jesus Christ Himself had prayed in John 17:11 to His Father on the night of His arrest that:
I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. NASB.
The apostles understood this truth and simply depended on the name of Jesus to reign signs and wonders, and cast out demons. The most amazing thing is the way these men simply demonstrated the power of God through the name Jesus.
First, they understood that the manifestation of God’s power had nothing to do with who they were other than saved people simply by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Their power to perform anything supernatural was solely dependent on the name, Jesus Christ. Note the affirmation of the source of the apostles power from Peter in the texts below: Acts 3:16, 4:10
And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. NASB.
There is no doubt that there is power in the name of the Lord. Both the Old and New Testament agree on that Proverbs 18:10, Philippians 2:9-11:
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NASB.
There is intrinsic power in the name of Jesus that when invoked power can ordinarily be displayed regardless of the spiritual conditions the vessel. Jesus says that on the day of judgment He will reject and deny access to the kingdom to some who would have performed signs and wonders in His name (Matthew 7:22-23).
This implies that the usage of the name of Jesus to wreak havoc on demons and perform miracles does not depend on anything self. If unbelievers can perform signs and wonders in the name of the Lord, what else? On the contrary, the church today trust more in religious activities to manifest the power of God than in the name of Jesus.
Though we pray through the name of Jesus but in reality, we believe that God can only manifest His power through our self-righteousness and legalistic performance. In other words, the name Jesus is just one of the prayer cliches and not the essence of the power of prayer.
Probably the worse. the church has done in Nigeria society in this regard, is the blasphemy of the name of the Lord. Comedians and master’s of ceremonies (MCs) blaspheme the name of God, some are even invited to mock God right on His altar. This only shows how much ignorance the church has about the name of the Lord.
Secondly, when listing the Christian amour for spiritual battle, apostle Paul did not only list prayer as the only source of power for christian life prayer comes last on the list. Take a look at the list below: Ephesians 6:14-18.
Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. RSV.
It is so sad that some Christians have, however, taken prayer out from the list of spiritual amour and have built an imbalance Christian life only on it.