“There’s a satanic lullaby here,” a Christian Iranian wife said. “All the churches here are sleepy.” But she wasn’t talking about the churches in Iran. Surprisingly, the church in Iran is the fastest growing church in the world.
Yes, you heard that right. According to an article on godreports.com, “Fastest Growing Church Has No Buildings…,” Christianity in Iran is growing faster than any other place in the world. And the place they referred to as being “sleepy” and having a “satanic lullaby”? The USA. After living in the US for a short time, the Iranian couple decided to move back to Iran. Evidently, severe persecution was not as great a threat to their faith as the asserted sleepy way of living out our faith here in the US.
What do you think? The very same day I read the above-mentioned article, I came across another article about an interview with a foreign church planter in areas where Christianity isn’t allowed. The name of the article – “Why Don’t We See Revival and Miracles Like They do in Other Countries?”
Could the answer be prayer? After all, every great revival has been preceded by great prayer.
If the frustrations I’ve heard about being too busy and struggling to spend time with God is any indication, I’d say prayer is the answer. Perhaps we are too sleepy. Perhaps we’re like the disciples when Jesus asked them to pray and they fell asleep instead (Luke 22:45). Perhaps Jesus would ask us today as he asked the disciples, “Why are you sleeping? Pray that you may not enter in temptation.” (Luke 22:40 & 46)
Jesus wasn’t asking the disciples to pray for Him, but for themselves. They needed the strength and perseverance they would gain through fervent prayer. Meanwhile, Jesus went to be alone and prayed for what He was about to face, to gain strength for what He was about to do. We, too, need this strength and perseverance for our lives today in this mixed up world. And we need wisdom and faith from the Word of God.
Jesus’ words aren’t the only ones that tell us to [theoretically] stay awake. 1 Peter 5:8 – …be watchful. Ephesians 6:18 – keep alert with all perseverance. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 – So let us not sleep, but keep awake and be sober.
Be watchful and alert for what?
I think we may be too busy to notice – too busy to notice what satan is doing in our lives, in our country, and in our world…too distracted to recognize the forces of evil playing havoc all around us.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish 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, praying 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… Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV (emphasis mine)
Perhaps we’ve been lulled to sleep by our too-busy, consumer-driven, entertaining lifestyle. Or maybe when we’re not sleeping because we’re distracted or so over-tired, we’re just dizzy from the whirlwind we’re in. Have we lost our spiritual equilibrium? Could what we think is a strong commitment to our faith be anemic by other standards?
Something tells me it wasn’t supposed to be this way. This isn’t what Jesus had in mind when he said to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27) and our neighbor as ourself. Are our lives so full we barely have enough time or strength left over to love the Lord that deeply, much less our neighbor? Will we be considered a Jesus freak if we love the Lord that much? Or worse, we’ll be considered intolerant by those who won’t tolerate the Bible or anything it stands for.
But God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We are still to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, even if we face persecution. We are still to seek the Lord with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13). And the way we do that is through consistent prayer and God’s Word.
But how can we do this in our over-packed, fast-paced life?
Perhaps the better question is, can we afford not to do this in our over-packed lives? Our families, our nation and our world are spinning out of control and need our fervent prayers to slow the whirlwind. When you look around, wouldn’t you say we need more prayer, not less? We need a new commitment to a deeper level of fervency; but we need to be proactive if we’re going to pray fervent, effective prayers (James 5:16).
The reason cited for the growth of the church in Iran? Their foundation is prayer.
God’s laws are the same, and so isn’t His love and grace. And so, He still listens and answers our heartfelt prayers.
We all can pray more. Consider what is possible through more fervent prayer. We need a revival of prayer. Will you be part of that revival? Will you help usher in the power of God to heal our families and our nations by a new commitment to pursue prayer proactively? (click to tweet)
I’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation in the comments.
This is what Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World was written for – to enhance and revive our prayer lives so we can pray fervent prayers that avail much (James 5:16). Short, frequent prayers are great – they’re one way we pray continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but Jesus taught key elements of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer. So in this book, we’ll look at those elements and see why they’re still important for us today as well as how including them will make our prayers more effective. The goal is to encourage, inspire and empower our prayer lives. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.
Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World can be used as a personal devotional or group Bible Study. It releases from New Hope Publishers on November 18 and can be preordered here.