This little blurb hardly scratches the surface of a theology of prayer. Nonetheless, let it be a little reminder to heed the call to prayer in your personal life and the life of your church.
The Book of Acts records several instances that show the early church as an example for us to be just as devoted in prayer today as they were then. Of the small band of believers just before Pentecost, it was said, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). Likewise, just after Pentecost, among other things, “they devoted themselves to . . . the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Instead of meeting the practical needs of the saints, the Twelve stated, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). When Peter was in prison and the church feared his martyrdom (Acts 12:1–3), “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (Acts 12:5), throughout the night (cf. Acts 12:6–11), and so they were at “the house of Mary . . . where many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12:12).
Just as the Bible describes how Christians prayed, it also prescribes how Christians should pray. Since we are God’s house (1 Tim 3:15), we will incur God’s anger if we are not a people of prayer (cf. Isa 56:7; Matt 21:12–13). The church must pray for the needs of its members (Eph 6:18), and the church must pray for unbelievers as well (1 Tim 2:1–7). Men should lead in times of corporate prayer (1 Tim 2:8), and women should participate in prayer as well (1 Cor 11:4–5). The church must pray for the advance of the gospel (Acts 4:29; Col 4:3; Eph 6:19), and, as mentioned above, prayer must be a priority for those lead the church and who speak the Word of God (Acts 6:4).
Has the Spirit has moved in you to be more mindful of prayer due to your consideration of the handful of Scriptures quoted and referenced above? Do you attempt to be with our church during its times of corporate prayer on Sundays and Wednesdays? Not everyone can make it every time the church gathers for prayer, but when considering whether we are really unable to come or not, we must remember that some people find excuses to avoid the work of gathering for prayer, and others find the excuse of a time for prayer to avoid whatever would get in its way. Let’s pray to God that He would help us to fall into the latter of those categories and that He would help our churches to be people of prayer.
Older statistics showed that 3,500 to 4,000 churches closed each year while only 1,000 churches are planted. 1 A recent study, however, showed 4,000 Protestant churches were planted while only 3,700 closed their doors in 2014.2 There are approximately 11 churches per 10,000 people in America.3
Though some polls will suggest that up to 40% of Americans regularly attend church, studies observing actual attendance suggest that only half of this many people attend church on a given Sunday.4 Roughly 1 out of 5 Americans regularly attends church. From this group, 6 out of 10 attend a church attended by fewer than 100 adults (the average being 89), and 1 out of 8 attend a church attended by more than 1,000 adults.5
The population of Rockford was 148,278 in 2015.6 If we apply the data in the previous paragraphs to our city’s population and round the numbers by using 150,000 for the population, we can make several interesting observations. There should be about 165 churches in Rockford that are attended by 30,000 people. 3,750 people will attend two or three churches attended by 1,000 or more adults each weekend. 18,000 will attend churches attended by fewer than 100 adults each weekend. The remaining 8,250 people attend churches that range between 100 and 1,000 adult attendees on a given weekend.
While it is interesting to see how many people attend the variously sized churches in Rockford, the far more gripping implication from the paragraphs above is that 120,000 people in Rockford do not go to church anywhere at all, 4 out of 5 people. Moreover, assuming each church to be worth attending (a questionable assumption), if there are only 11 churches per 10,000 people in America, that means there are 909 people for every church. If we have 50 people here today, there are at least 859 people nearby who are either disobediently forsaking the assembly or do not know Christ at all. What will do to reach them?
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38).
Endnotes: (1) Richard J. Krejcir, “Statistics and Reasons for Church Decline” (2007). Online: http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=42346&colu mnid=4545. (2) Lisa Cannon Green, “Church Planting 2015: Who Attends and What Attracted Them” (Dec 8 2015). Online: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015 /december/church-planting-2015-who-attends-what-attracted-lifeway.html. (3) Krejcir, “Statistics and Reasons for Church Decline.” (4) Kelly Shattuck, “7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America” (no date). Online: http://www. churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html. See also Ed Stetzer, “No, American Christianity is not dead” (May 16, 2015). Online: http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/16/living/christianity-american-dead/. (5) Barna Group, “Small Churches Struggle to Grow Because Of The People They Attract” (Sept 2, 2003). Online: https://www.barna.org/component/content/ article/5-barna-update/45-barna-update-sp-657/126-small-churches-struggle-to-grow-because-of-the-people-they-attract#.V0733JErKUk.
(6) United States Censes Bureau, “Rockford city, Illinois.” Search query, “’rockford, il.”
Online: http://www.census.gov/search-results.html?q=rockford%2C+il&search.x=0&search.y=0& search=submit &page=1&stateGeo=none&searchtype=web&cssp=SERP. All online articles accessed 01 June 2016.
Hymn 13 - Rejoice, the Lord Is King
Hymn 352 - Like a River Glorious
Hymn 19 - I Sing the Mighty Power of God
Hymn 72 - Glory Be to God the Father
Hymn 23 - Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise
Hymn 462 - Be Thou My Vision
Hymn 36 - All Hail the Power
Hymn 70 - O For a Heart To Praise My God
HGG 042 - Praise Ye the Lord
HGG 247 - Amazing Grace
HGG 141 - Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?
HGG 267 - There Is a Fountain
HGG 052 - Crown Him with Many Crowns
HGG 072 - Glory Be to God the Father
Booklet 46 - I Plead for Grace (Psalm 51)
Booklet 26 - For the Sake of His Name
HGG 046 - O Worship the King
HGG 003 - Holy, Holy, Holy
Booklet 44 - God is Our Strength and Refuge (Psalm 46)
Booklet 32 - For the Sake of His Name
HGG 049 - O God, Our Help in Ages Past
HGG 588 - A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Booklet 42 - How Awesome Is Your Name (Psalm 8)
Booklet 32 - For the Sake of His Name
Join us for a new Christian Life Hour series!
June 12: The Patriarchal Period, Part 1
June 19: The Patriarchal Period, Part 2
June 26: Period of the Exodus and the Wildering Wanderings, Part 1
July 3: Period of the Exodus and the Wildering Wanderings, Part 2
July 10: Period from the Judges to the Temple in Jerusalem, Part 1
July 17: Church Business Meeting
July 24: Period from the Judges to the Temple in Jerusalem, Part 2
July 31: Period of the Divided Kingdom
August 7: Exilic and Post-Exilic Periods
August 14: In the New Testament, Part 1
August 21: In the New Testament, Part 2
My notes are primarily if not totally a summary of the biblical theology portion of Joel Huffstutler’s “He Who Dwelt in the Bush: A Biblical and Historical Theology of the Angel of the LORD” (PhD Dissertation; Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, 2007).
By doing a biblical theology of the Angel of the Lord, we will study passages in their chronological order, allowing the interpretation and understanding of each passage to inform the passages that come thereafter. Sometimes what is said in later passages helps us to understand earlier passages as well.
Used 213 times in the OT and often translated as angel, the Hebrew term mǎl’āk is similar to the NT Greek term angelos and “denotes an agent, or one who acts in behalf of or represents another person” (Huffstutler, 65). In our study, the Son acts on behalf of the Father and represents Him to other persons, but He also indicates on occasion that He Himself is God.
As to titles, the name LORD in all capital letters is the Hebrew name Yahweh. The name Lord with only the beginning L being a capital letter is the Hebrew term adonai. The name God is elohim in Hebrew. This study will attempt to carefully distinguish these names from one another since this study involves identifying the Angel as the Son who is distinct from the Father.
The Angel of the Lord is often seen and looks like a man. If the Angel is God, the Father is not seen (John 1:18; 1 Tim 4:16; 1 John 4:12, 20; cf. Exod 33:20), and the Spirit does not manifest Himself as a man, we can only conclude that the Angel is the Son of God who is thus seen in both the Testaments. While perhaps not as clear to the first who met the Angel, this fact became clearer as God’s Word was revealed over time along with the Angel’s appearances.
The format of our notes will be to summarize how each text shows the Angel to be God the Son, which in turn helps us to learn about how He interacted with His people then, which will give us principles and perhaps expectations as to how He interacts with us today.
All are welcome. Please join us!
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.