Elephant Hunting

We have noted in the past several posts that the persecution of Christians, abortion, and the political assault on the rights of Christians are not elephants in the evangelical room that no one is discussing. Rather, these elephants are not allowed in the room, are not given any significant place in the worldview of the evangelical. As a result, we are not meeting our responsibility in protecting innocent lives that are being trampled by these elephants.

In the past several posts we have noted four reasons why evangelicals turn a blind eye toward such huge issues. We closed yesterday’s post by noting that one reason for ignoring such pressing problems and the associated responsibilities resides in the sense that we can do nothing about them. Therefore, it is pointless to discuss them or even think about them. In other words, evangelicals just don’t possess an elephant gun that would deal with these issues.

The Ultimate Elephant Gun

The reality is that prayer constitutes the ultimate elephant gun. Armed with prayer we are never helpless, but we have the firepower to deal with these challenges. We have the promises regarding the power of prayer in Scripture, being assured that as children of God we have access to His throne, that He hears  will answer.

Not only does Scripture teach us the principles of prayer. It also records many instances of God’s power being unleashed through prayer in the real world. The Book of James makes reference to the example of Elijah who prayed that it would stop raining, and it did. Then he prayed that the rain would start again, and it did. Or we think of the prayer of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 which resulted in Judah’s defeating a much larger army. Needless to say, Scripture is replete with such examples of the power of prayer.

Unbelieving Believers

The attitude of helplessness so prevalent among evangelicals in the face of the elephants confronting us reveals that we are unbelieving believers. We actually don’t believe what we affirm to believe. We profess to believe everything written above, but our prayerlessness and the accompanying attitude of helplessness exposes our unbelief.

This lack of belief in the power of prayer is not confined to individual Christians but to the church in general and to pastors in particular. If this assertion sounds harsh and judgmental, let me ask the following question with which I have confronted several pastors: Why do we not pray more in church? 1 Timothy 2 indicates that prayer comprised a major component of the early church worship service. Why is it that in our churches as much if not more church time is assigned to announcements as to prayer? Why is far more time assigned to worship (singing) and preaching than to prayer? Why are the major issues we have been discussing not addressed in prayer? Why have we confined prayer to a five-minute segment in which we make polite and predictable petitions? The answer is simple. Because pastors and other Christians really don’t believe that God answers prayer. They can make professions to the contrary until they are blue in the face, but their beliefs are exposed by their actions.

Nor am I interested in hearing about prayer meetings, which in most churches if they are held at all are attended by 10 people on a good night, with mort time allotted to Bible study and discussing prayer requests than to the actual praying. If prayer is powerful why not assign it prime time when the entire church is present? Why not model it for the congregation so that they can see our confidence in the power of prayer.

You Can Only Imagine

Imagine Sunday morning services in which the congregation got on its knees and the pastor, elders, and others spent 20 minutes to a half hour pouring out their hearts regarding the urgent issues of the day. This would ignite confidence in God’s people that the church actually believed in prayer, that God is at work as we pray, that prayer does change things, and that we are not victims but mighty through God. It would transform the church in America.

Why is persecution of Christians on the rise? Why do abortions continue on at a rate of well over 2000 a day? Why is the political left able to increasingly tighten their grip around our throats? James gives us the answer: “You have not because you ask not.” And why as a church don’t we ask? That would be a good question to ask your pastor.

3 comments on “Elephant Hunting
  1. Rafael Restrepo says:

    I have to add a hearty AMEN, to your observation Paul. For two years we have sought to emphasize prayer in one of our churches, it was mainly to move comfortable Christians to action. We have introduced prayer chains, prayer leaders, prayer cards and a no les then 10 min. congregational prayer during the Sunday Service in which the entire church participates. We have prayer teams, prayer groups, and prayer leaders. We found that one year of prayer focus was not enough, so we did a second. We were lead to add to Prayer emphases a prayer series that lasted 9 installments spread from January to October. But we also realized in the first year that we needed to know God better so we coupled it with a parallel series on Worship, 6 installments and we believe there is more to come. Answers to prayer? No room to begin to record them. By God’s Grace my wife challenged us to take on a big elephant, slavery, the trafficking of women. All I can say is God pulled out an elephant gun and surprised us all. We know we are just beginning to understand prayer. This is Spain we shoot at different elephants here, may the church in the USA find their elephant guns and aim well at those in your jungles. Looking to N.Africa for a bit of hunting… “On earth as it is in heaven”

  2. Hal bennett says:

    Thank you – I for one have been convicted to change.

  3. Paul Brownback says:

    Thank you both for these responses. Raphael, your comment reminded me that I was remiss in not mentioning that some pastors are doing a great job with prayer. I am gratified by what you are doing. Churches like Brooklyn Tabernacle would attest that their ministry was built on prayer. I am sure that there are many others. Unfortunately they represent a small percentage.

Have a comment?