A HEALTHY CHURCH EXERCISES REGULARLY
A healthy church persistently and sweats it out in the practice of prayer. While poor spiritual habits lead to a sluggish faith, prayer trains for a sprinted marathon. For those who follow Jesus, the run is never a short-cut pill, never a steroid-induced strength, never a sitting-still, and most certainly never a giving-up attitude. A healthy church presses on, enduring through the strain of life and ministry in order to accomplish the goals that God has set (Philippians 3:14-17).
Prayer stretches the soul (Ephesians 3:14-21). In prayer God draws near to his people and enables them to move free from burden (Psalm 145:14-18; Deuteronomy 4:7). Prayer, continually practiced, purges the system of sinful condition and leads towards forgiveness (Philippians 4:5-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Matthew 6:12). As agonizing as the process of spiritual fat-trimming can be, a local church engaging in prayer together learns agility in ministry, endurance in trial, inspiration in challenge, and peace in hostility (1 Corinthians 9:25; Hebrews 12:11).
Prayerful training leads to godliness, the key to making healthy choices in this unhealthy world (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Practicing prayer enables followers of Jesus to be fully trained to be like Jesus (Luke 6:40). A healthy church doesn’t live comfortably. A healthy church does not settle for patterns of soulful malnutrition. A healthy church prays hard.
This is the third part of a series of posts exploring the essential elements that must exist in order for a church to be considered healthy. This material stems from an assignment I completed for my most recent course at ACTS: “Developing a Healthy Church.”