Title:  The Ministry of Prayer

Summary:  Prayer should be the first step in anything we do both individually
and collectively.  It enables us to seek Godís direction and move forward with his
blessing in our efforts to serve him

Function:  To move the church to begin a prayer ministry and having a plan for
regular prayer as a body

Text:  Matt 26:36-46

Scripture Reading:  James 5:13-17


Intro:
1.  Child said - Canít be good by praying - was convinced prayer not work
	a.  Was bad, and mother sent him to his room
	b.  Mother came in later, child said thought about it and prayed
	c.  Mother said if ask God to make you good, he will help you
	d.  Child said, that not what he prayed for - prayed for God to help mother
	     put up with him
2.  That sort of thing that can happen if not believe in power of prayer
	a.  God does listen and act when we pray
	b.  Isnít that amazing and wonderful?
3.  People pray in so many ways, and God hears
4.  Matt 26:36-46 - Learn several things about prayer

I.  Prayer needs to be the first step in all we do
	A.  It needs to be central to every step
	B.  In Lukeís account of the Garden
		1.  Prayer was his ďcustomĒ (Lk 22:39)
			a.  Began ministry with prayer (Lk 3:21)
			b.  Prayed regularly during ministry (Lk 5:16)
			b.  Ended ministry with prayer (Lk 23:46)
		2.  Major part of his plan for ministry was prayer
			a.  Before he made major decisions, he prayed
				- (Lk 6:12-13) - Whole night in prayer to choose
				    his Apostles
			b.  After a hard days work ministering to others, he prayed
				(Mt 14:23)
			c.  (Lk 11:1) Prayed so much, disciples wanted to learn
		3.  Jesus was a man of prayer
			a.  If Jesus, Son of God prayed so much, shouldnít we?
			b.  If he made prayer central to his life, shouldnít we?
	C.  Church in Texas in danger of closing its doors, no money
		1.  Re-Prioritized everything - Prayer became central
		2.  Problem, didnít seek Godís guidance
		3.  Prayer became first, and central order of business
			a.  First thing they do with new Christians - Teach to pray
			b.  Second, teach the to be Evangelists (thatís Biblical)
			c.  Major job of elders - Prayer and ministry of the word
		4.  Church became strong and numerically exploded
	D.  If not receiving Godís guidance, power, blessing, not asking
		1.  Somone once said:
			a.  When rely on organization, get what organization can do
			b.  Rely on education, get what education can do
			c.  Rely on eloquence, get what eloquence can do
			d.  Donít want to undervalue any of these
			b.  But when rely on prayer, will get what God can do
		2.  Prayer needs to be first step and integrated into all we do

II.  Prayer is a family affair
	A.  Jesus made a point to spend time praying with his disciples
		1.  (Lk 9:28) - Took Peter, James and John to mountain to pray
		2.  (Lk 11:1) - Prayed with disciples, they asked him to teach them
		3.  Now he brings his closest companions to be with him in prayer
	B.  Jesus did not want to prepare for his suffering alone
		1.  (Mt 26:38) - Most translations donít get the full effect of his word
			- The grief in my heart is killing me
		2.  Jesus wanted companionship in prayer at this time
		3.  If Jesus spent time praying with his friends, shouldnít we?
	C.  Example of church in Acts
		1.  Acts 1:14, 24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:31; 6:4; 6:6; 12:5; 12:12; 13:3; 14:23; 
		     16:25; 20:36; 21:5
		2.  Reason for fire of early church -- prayer!
	D.  We need to spend more time praying together as they did
		1.  Like Jesus, they might spend hours, or a whole night in prayer
		2.  They were each otherís prayer partners
		3.  They probably drew encouragement from each other

III.  Prayer enables us to focus on Godís will
	A.  Jesus wanted to stay focus in his anticipation, greif and sorrow
		1.  This a very difficult time for him
		2.  Prayer helped him get through it
	B.  Tells them to ďkeep watchĒ   For what?  enemies?
		1.  They kept falling asleep
		2.  (v.41) - Spirit is willing, flesh is weak
			a.  Problem is they were watching through eyes of flesh
			b.  They needed to be watchful with spiritual eyes
		3.  Result - They were not focused at all
			a.  Peter fought it (26:51)
			b.  26:56 - Then they all ran away
			c.  All they knew is they were scared
		4.  Jesus, on the other hand stayed focused
			a.  Notice how he reacts when they come to arrest him
			b.  (v.46) - Get up and letís get going
			c.  (26:56) - All was going according to plan
			d.  Prayer had prepared him to go forward with Godís plan
	C.  Look at what can happen
		1.  Johnathan Edwards 1730ís - Disgusted at halfway conversions
			a.  Built treehouse to pray by self and with others
			b.  Called for parents to put prayer back in homes
			c.  Revival - 6 conversions, eventually 300 in Northampton
			d.  Beginning of Great Awakening - 50,000 conversions
		2.  Revival in Kalamazoo, MI in 1858
			a.  Wife wrote - A praying wife prays for her husband that
			      he would be converted and become a faithful disciple of 
			      Jesus Christ
			b.  Man came forward and said he was that man, then 
			     another, then another
			c.  Twenty five men came forward because of their praying 
			      wives
		3.  Prayer can bring much needed revival
	D.  If we seem to have lack of focus as a church and need revival
		1.  Maybe itís because prayer is not a focus
		2.  Planning, goals, vision, are all important
		3.  But must begin with prayer
		4.  (Prov 19:21) Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel 
		     of the Lord will stand

IV.  What about us?
	A.  Have seen some positive things, but there is still a long way to go
	B.  Where do we start?
		1.  Challenge elders to take the lead - prayer and ministry of word
			a.  Some elders implemented 40 days of prayer
			b.  Daily scripture readings to fuel the fire of prayer
		2.  Some churches have prayer ministries
			a.  Prayer Gardens
			b.  Prayer Rooms
			c.  Elders Prayer Ministries
		3.  Heard of congregation where elders anoint sick and pray
			a.  A person had cancer
			b.  It dissappeared!
	C.  Brattleboro women were prayer warriors
		1.  Didnít dawn on me why church grew
		2.  Not my efforts, it was their consistent prayer ministry
	D.  Prayer not a substitute for work, planning, goals
		1.  But it needs to be a first step
		2.  It also needs to be integrated with everything

Concl:
1.  I hope this sermon a catalyst for prayer ministry
2.  Need to make praying first order of business (not the only order, but first
order)

Questions for Small Group Discussion