Prof urges preachers to return to prayer akin to early church’s

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)--Search committees selecting a pastor need to examine a candidate’s prayer life for three essential components -- intelligence, passion and effectiveness, said Ben Awbrey, preaching professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Such are the components of a ministry built on a proper foundation of prayer, Awbrey said April 27 at the Kansas City, Mo., seminary.

Examining a prayer of the early church as recorded in Acts 4:24-31, Awbrey challenged a chapel audience to emulate the prayer life of the early church. “God hasn’t designed you to be adequate within your own giftedness, personality, background or education. He is only interested in you serving him through the power that he provides when you and I are humble and dependent, coming to God through prayer.”

Citing the intelligence of the early church’s praying, Awbrey said, “They understood that Jesus’ enemies did what God had predestined. They prayed to the God who was the sovereign ruler of the universe,” said Awbrey, noting in their prayer they referenced back to Scripture, matching recent events to what Scripture said would happen.

Too often today, Awbrey said, “We don’t know the God of the Bible. We don’t know the God to whom we pray because we don’t take the time.”

Too much TV and a lack of a commitment to study the Word of God in order to preach the Word can keep a minister from praying intelligently, Awbrey said.

“Are you going to pour over [the Word of God], examine its parts, provide insight and challenge those whom you serve with the Word of God?” the professor asked. “You can’t know God without knowing the revelation of God which is the Word of God.”

The issue of television is not to throw it away, Awbrey said, but not to watch too much of it. Since many Christians “pay homage to that electronic God,” they don’t know the God of Scripture.

“How can you call them out to where they should be if you also a victim of the TV?” Awbrey asked.

The passion of prayer is found in verses 29-31, Awbrey said. “They were not informing God; they were unburdening their hearts just like Jesus did in John 17. They were praying to speak the word with confidence, the very thing that got John and Peter in trouble. They were praying for God to be heralded, even though they were unheralded. They could pray this way because their motives were so very pure.”

The effectiveness of their prayer was revealed when, after they prayed, the place was shaken and they spoke the word with boldness. “God answered their every petition. They were filled with power and boldness,” Awbrey said.

“They prayed intelligently because they knew God. They prayed passionately that God would be glorified and that they could be used of God. They prayed effectively and God answered their prayers.”

Awbrey closed with a challenge to make prayer the foundation of a lifetime of ministry as did the apostles who committed themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. “Nothing has changed,” he said. “The order is still the same.”

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