Several years ago, there was a fascinating news story that made headlines around the world. In November of 2008, BBC news reported the story of a Russian Orthodox church being stolen by thieves. Last seen in July of that year, it was reported:
“…a 200 year old church building has disappeared from a village in central Russia. Orthodox officials had intended to re-open the abandoned building and begin services again.”
But imagine their surprise when they came to the place where the church had stood and saw nothing. Now, it is certainly not uncommon in remote areas of Russia for vacant churches to have their gilded icons and other valuables stolen by thieves. But now an entire church building had been stolen. How? Well, sometime in early October thieves made off with it brick by brick. What I found interesting was this line—“The disappearance of the Church of the Resurrection was not immediately noticed.”
When I read that, I could not help but be reminded that this is what happens whenever the church forsakes her first love, and when she abandons her true mission. Jesus said that He will build His church, yet the enemy would love nothing more than to dismantle the church brick by brick. One of his tactics is to muddy the water through misplaced priorities. Our whole reason for existence can become lost in a maze of misplaced priorities. This is why prayer must be essential in the life of the church.
Professionalism has replaced prayerfulness on the part of today’s church. The church has turned to men of degree to solve all of her problems; if we follow certain marketing formulas, then we will have instance success. The first century church didn’t have any professionals to tell them how they ought to do things. There were no seminary trained men, no conventions, and no “how to” books. They had none of the things that we would say are necessary. But the power of God was at work in their lives, and that made all the difference.
The reason was that they made prayer their first priority. Is prayer a priority in your life? A praying church is made up of praying Christians!