What Happens When the Church Stops Praying?

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Mark Batterson: Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do.

Outreach recently spoke with Mark Batterson to discuss a wide assortment of issues, including the challenges of taking the Gospel into the culture of Washington D.C., the lessons he’s learned about prayer from his most recent book, The Circle Maker, and what it means to be a “current” church in our ever-changing culture. Here’s a glimpse into the conversation. Check out more from our Nov/Dec issue here

What are the most important ministry lessons you’ve learned this year?

We’re not trying to grow a church, we’re trying to bless a city, and when you bless a city then God grows His church. And I think that’s gotten into our DNA over the last year.

You know how you can read a verse in the Bible a thousand times, but then one day the full force of it hits you and it’s like this revelation. This little statement Jesus made, “I will build my church”… I’ve heard that a thousand times, but I think it hit me this year.

My job is not to build the church.

It’s a little thing, but it’s been big for me. I’ve shared that in some settings with pastors and I think it’s been real freeing. We need to remind ourselves, it’s His church—He’s the one who will build it, and if we can stay out of the way, then some great things are going to happen.

Prayer has also played a big part.

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I feel like prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do.

So if we’re not praying, then the best we can do is the best we can do, and that’s not good enough. When we get on our knees, the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting. Prayer creates the culture and gives people a heart for evangelism, because when you get into God’s presence, you start to get His heartbeat.

That’s been the game-changer for us this year.

In your recent book, The Circle Maker, you talk about the important transformation of becoming a praying church. What does that look like for National Community?

You can delegate a lot of things, but you can’t delegate prayer. The Lord convicted me out of Acts 6—when the church leaders were delegating stuff so they could be in the Word and in prayer.

I love conferences. I’m a conference junkie, but I’d rather have one God-idea than a thousand good ideas.

Mark Batterson Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., a multi-site church and a leading fellowship in the nation’s capital. Meeting in movie theaters and Metro stops throughout the D.C. area, NCC is attended by more than 70 percent single twenty-somethings. Mark’s weekly podcast is one of the fastest growing in America. His book, In A Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars peaked at #44 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. He has just released his newest book entitled, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God. He and his wife Lora live on Capitol Hill. They have three children.

More from Mark Batterson or visit Mark at http://www.evotional.com/

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  • Titus Asifat

    This is wonderful, honestly, it high time the church wake up to praying church that transform the people life by praying corporately. not the one man show that is been exhibited in our churches today. The early church continually and steadfastly in prayer, that spark revival in the entire city. This can be reciprocate in this our modern generation where prayer turn things round supernaturally for every one that is involved.

  • deandeguara

    We are doing the Circle Maker Campaign right now as a church. It has been excellent. I think Mark’s approach to prayer is refreshing & revitalizing personally and as a church.

  • Sosanya

    I am challenged and encouraged. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Ryan

    Excellent article and so true.

  • Rashad

    Excellent article!! If we want transformation in our churches, cities, and country it will begin with prayer and be sustained by prayer. Look how long so many Christians and churches have neglected such a privilege and look at where we are at today! And the truth is, earth shaking prayer begins with us as leaders. If we are not praying men, we will have a prayerless church or at best, prayer will be treated as a formality. If we are praying men, we will be lead to engage our congregations in persistent prayer. My prayer for every believer is to have a heart that LONGS for the presence of God and that they will continue to seek Him for greater manifestations of His glory!

  • Joshua

    Powerful inspirational message on prayer being a role that can never be delegated. Shalom

  • Richard

    1. Getting into the praying habit is clearly good, but there is also the danger of mistaking a cause for a symptom.
    2. Rather than title this ‘What Happens When the Church Stops Praying’, it could be called ‘What happens when the Church Stop Hearing and Believing the Gospel? The first thing is that Prayer [and Unity] go out the window’
    3. There is a danger that we can set-up prayer workshops, schedules, rotas, meetings etc, and all the while the angels are saying ‘Who are they kidding?’

  • Gerri

    Prayer is so important–there is no excuse for a deficit of prayer in anyone’s life. I’ve seen God move mountains in our ministry through prayer. It is vital and essential for any Christian. The prayer circle is absolutely inspirational.


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