The ministry of prayer in the local church is closely aligned with the expository proclamation of the truth. As the apostles of the early church declared, “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). James Rosscup has written, “God’s Word makes clear that a proper blending of the Word with prayer is the most strategic approach to ministry . . . . Prayer derives its purpose, commitment, passion, values, and priority from the Word” (Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, Dallas: Word, 1995, pp. 165, 177). Throughout the book of Acts, the early church was marked by individual believers who prayed, as well as intense corporate prayer (see Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:31; 12:5; 14:23; 16:25; 28:8). Therefore, The Bible Church of Little Rock must devote itself to the same. Rosscup also says, “Jesus has cast prayer in a role of profound significance. Whoever serves Him can demonstrate he is His true follower in doing the same. A Christian’s fruit reflects his discipleship in John 15:8, the secret of the fruit being prayer (v. 7)” (Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, p. 170).
This corporate prayer of The Bible Church may be seen in several ways. First, each and every public worship service includes protracted prayer. As the Pastor-Teacher leads the congregation in prayer, the people are collectively brought to the Lord, for the purpose of the adoration of God (Acts 4:24), the confession of sin (Proverbs 28:13), prayers of thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18), prayers of supplication and intercession (both the unsaved, Isaiah 53:12; and the saved, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Galatians 6:18; Colossians 1:9-12). Second, individual classes engage in regular and systematic prayer. Third, each Care Group regularly prays for their own groups, as well as for the church in general. Fourth, many of the ladies come to the church several times each week to pray for all the known requests. Fifth, prayer request lists are regularly distributed to the membership. Sixth, the congregation gathers when there is a fifth Sunday month to pray collectively. Seventh, several faithful believers gather together every Sunday morning for prayer. Eighth, the Pastors and Elders pray weekly for the various needs of the congregation. Ninth, the men gather for prayer and study of the Word on Friday mornings. Tenth, the congregation is routinely encouraged to pray for the church and its leadership, and for the impact of the church in the world.
Just as the centrality of the Word of God is held up by the church, so prayer must be emphasized. “The Word is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and Christians are to pray in the Spirit (v. 18). The Spirit teaches the Word together with God’s will (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:12-13) and helps Christians respond to God’s will in their praying” (Rosscup, Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, pp. 176-177). We are simply following our Lord and His model praying (see Luke 6:12). He taught the necessity of prayer (Luke 11:2-4, as well as other matters related to prayer, according to Luke 11:5-13). Jesus likewise, urged His disciples to “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
The Bible Church will continue to investigate ways in which we can devote ourselves to prayer. Paul gives us wise words in Colossians 4:2-6 regarding the crucial link between our prayers and our evangelistic efforts: “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the Word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”