If this was the ONLY book you read this year by a Christian leader you would draw the incorrect conclusion that the Church reeks. I think it rocks…and I think deep down Jim Cymbala feels that way too.
He is negative about the state of the Church, critical of pastoral priorities and practices and is of the opinion that very little good or godly is going on in North American ministries.
Hard to Argue With Prayer
Pastor Cymbala repeatedly states that he has written the book out of humility and concern and certainly not from a perspective that he has all the answers. He then goes on to give his answer to all of the problems in the Church – a lack of prayer – a practice he attributes to the vibrancy of Brooklyn Tabernacle, the church in which he ministers.
Cymbala says, “From the main work of prayer, fruitful ministry and fruitful living will result, because prayer secures the help of God.” p. 42
Its hard to argue against prayer. However, I know a lot of pastors who pray as much or more than Jim. Some congregations have prayer gatherings everyday. Said churches have not grown into an influential, mega-ministry or have an internationally known speaking ministry and choir.
If prayer were the sole remedy to the malaise of ministry churches would be flourishing qualitatively and quantitatively.
With that off my chest, I have to say that my takeaway from the book was about prayer – although not in a “guilted” sort of way that pastors and congregations “don’t pray enough.”
The Connections of Corporate Prayer
Jesus told his disciples they could do “nothing” – nothing of lasting value – without “remaining” or “abiding” in Him. (John 15:5)
Jesus said that two ways to remain in Him are: keep His commands and love as He loved.
While praying is not the quintessential practice of a believer or a church, praying together can be one essential environment where believers get connected to God and each other.
Keeping His Command to Love
Seekers are looking to belong, get connected and find friendship.
Cymbala tells the story of a single mom interceding for her son at a Brooklyn Tabernacle prayer meeting. He placed his hand on her shoulder as she prayed – she wasn’t alone.
He recounts the story of Karen, a young adult who was into Satanism as a teen, but who had a singing talent and was brought into the Cymbala’s choir and their home to be loved and mentored in the faith.
Mohammed, a Palestinian, who attends Brooklyn Tabernacle, tells the story of his life transformation through the love of an Israeli Christian. He says, “Muslims aren’t attracted to Jesus so much by theological arguments as when they sense His love in us.” (p.175)
The Church will prayerfully weather any storm when love is in Her heart and compassion is in Her actions.
APPLICATION: What do you think about the connection between prayer, love and belonging? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
(I was given a free copy of the book by BookLook Bloggers for review. I was not required to write a positive review.)
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I have a sign on my board that says, “Prayer changes things”. Even if the prayer is only changing me, changing my heart, then it’s true, prayer changes things.
I struggle with prayer and what to say. I still pray often throughout the day. I also struggle with belonging. I still like and enjoy having people around me. Praying together in church makes me feel like I belong. We are all connected to God at the same time. This is where love comes in. God is love. Where God is there is love. Even when praying alone there are other people somewhere also praying alone at the same time. Love and belonging come together through connecting with God.