The lack of a sense of reverence and awe in our churches and our lives has been weighing heavily on me in recent days. I touched on this briefly in my last post (see “A Devoted Life”). There is something else troubling me about the way we “do” church in our modern culture. Believers today rarely see prayer as being a sacred approach to the throne of God.
Almost every church I have attended in the past thirty-five years uses prayer as a transition vehicle from one part of the service to the next. It’s the time when the worship team ascends or exits the platform or simply signals the end of the greeting and the beginning of the service. Prayer has become a vehicle instead of being understood as the great privilege and gift that it is. Even in our church gatherings, it appears nothing is sacred.
Any time a believer in Christ addresses God in prayer in a public setting, every other believer should quietly and humbly approach God’s throne in agreement with the one giving the prayer. I believe this is true whether we are attending a live service or listening to a recording of one in the past. God is outside of time (2 Peter 3:8; Revelation 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:1-2; Psalm 90:4). He does not experience the past and future as we do. Since God is experiencing all things at once (what a truly awesome God!), recorded prayers should garner the same respect as the ones we are hearing in real time.
When someone prays, it is not the time to assemble our belongings, pack up our Bible and notes, put on our coats, and prepare to leave. To pray is to approach God on His throne. Whenever you hear someone praying, imagine yourself standing before God in His throne room. Would you be so concerned with gathering your things, whispering to your neighbor, or letting your mind wander if you were standing three feet away from God? Yet, that is what we are doing. Nothing is sacred any longer. We’ve lost our fear, reverence, and awe of God.
Our lives should be a living testament to the glory of our Lord and Savior. How much more so when we gather together as a body of believers? Church isn’t something we do, it is who we are. We are the body of Christ in the world today. It appears we no longer understand or care about this responsibility.
While a sense of awe and wonder should be present in our everyday lives, there is something powerful about coming together with fellow believers. Jesus said when we gather in His name, He will be in our midst (Matthew 18:19-20). When was the last time you thought about that in church? When was the last time we recognized it as a congregation? We may speak of God’s presence, but if we truly believed He was there, we would fall on our faces in adoration, praise, and perhaps even shame. He is holy and we are not.
Nothing is sacred anymore, but it should be. God is not someone we take for granted. He is someone we worship, praise, fear, and love. When you pray, do it with a sense of who He is and what is happening at that moment. Understand that we have been given the privilege of communicating directly with the Creator and Savior of the Universe and all living things. This is not to be taken lightly. Every time we pray, we are allowed entrance into the unseen spiritual realm. It’s about time we treated prayer with the reverence deserving of such an incredible and holy moment. Some things must still be sacred.