The Worship Quote of the Week for (07/29/2008):

Neglected Prayer
Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is an excerpt from Allen Ross's important book on biblical worship, RECALLING THE HOPE OF GLORY. The author reminds us that prayer should be at the heart of individual and corporate worship.

One of the most neglected aspects of corporate worship (and no doubt the spiritual life in general) is prayer. The time spent in prayer in a worship service is minimal, but prayer has always been one of the main reasons believers have assembled, both in the Old Testament and in the early church. Just as private prayer is basic to the spiritual life, so corporate prayer is at the heart of the worship and service of the congregation.

. . . It would be hard to read the New Testament and miss the point that the life of the believer is a life of prayer. But with specific reference to the beginning of Christian worship, we may note that the early Christians met regularly for prayer (Acts 2:42). They had been accustomed to doing this in the temple and the synagogues, but sadly prayers in those services did not embrace the person and work of Jesus the Messiah (even though the Psalms properly understood did speak of Christ). So the followers of Jesus also met in homes for their worship, and those meetings included prayer (Acts 16:15, 40; 21:8). Of course they also gathered to pray wherever the occasion called for it, such as by the harbor (Acts 20:36) or on the shore (Acts 21:5). Among other things they prayed for guidance (Acts 1:24), preservation from trouble (4:24-30), deliverance from immediate persecution (Acts 12:5, 12), and wisdom in ministry (13:1-3, 14:23)

The early believers knew how to pray generally; the tension came now that they new Jesus to be the Son of God. This undoubtedly changed their perception of praying to God. Indeed, Jesus instructed them to continue to pray to the Father but in the name of the Son. Their prayers often combined prayers used in the temple and synagogues (which were drawn from Scripture) and the book of Psalms but included the full understanding and significance of the prayers now that Christ had come.

--Allen P. Ross, RECALLING THE HOPE OF GLORY: BIBLICAL WORSHIP FROM THE GARDEN TO THE NEW CREATION. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2006, p. 447-48. ISBN 0-8254-3578-1.

Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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