Recently, I wrote about issues facing men in our churches (or not in them, as the statistics point out), so I thought I would go over to the Church for Men site to see what men are saying about why they aren’t in church or why they feel the Church is not providing what men need. I’ve popped in there from time to time, and while I’m trying to take part in the conversation, I leave scratching my head.
If one factor defines that conversation, it’s the endless chorus of male voices chanting: “Men want a challenge!” Now this confuses me to no end because the list of challenges facing the Church is exceedingly long and certainly daunting if taken at face value. But I want to be game about this need that men have for a challenge, so I’m offering a challenge to every man out there:
That’s it. Nothing fancy or earth-shattering. But also nothing more needed or more missing in the lives of churches and the men in (or not in) them.
Can’t find anything to pray about for an hour? Then start asking everyone you see on a regular basis what they would like prayer for. Don’t make distinctions between Christians and non-Christians; ask everyone. Ask what their greatest need is and start compiling a list that you pray over every day. There’s not a human being alive who doesn’t need prayer. What can be more challenging than meeting a need that goes largely unmet in the lives of every person on the face of the planet?
If you find that’s still not filling up more than sixty minutes of your day, then ask God to open your eyes to every issue confronting your own church. Statistics say that most Christian teens are sexually active. Are you praying for the purity of the teens in your church? Christians tend to divorce at a rate not much less than the general public. Are you praying for the marriages of every couple in your church? Satan would like nothing more than divide and sift everyone in your church. Are you praying against the dark forces that seek to destroy every spiritual leader, every family, and every individual within your church down to the tiniest child ?
Okay men, there’s the challenge. Get back with me in a month and tell me how it’s going.
5 thoughts on “So Men Want a Challenge?”
Itï¿½s a good idea, Dan, but for starters how about first getting the pastors to cut down on the multi-media stuff, video clips, announcements, stage skits, unsingable rockï¿½nï¿½roll CCM, and all the other what-not, to open up as much as 10 minutes of prayer in church on Sunday?
Men donï¿½t pray because at the minimal level churches donï¿½t create a climate and a culture where prayer is what we are supposed to be doing.
This is a sizeable challenge, Dan.
Many things are easier than praying for an hour because they don’t conflict and contend with the flesh as strongly. I find that getting started is generally harder than sustaining prayer but when I do begin to pray every last ounce of the flesh in me militates against it with distractions, discomfort, anxiety, and my greatest enemy … sleep.
Currently I am locked in a battle with a tendency to doze off when I pray. Being well rested and exercised and eating a good diet will help here, too, I am sure.
Out of the top of my head, the keys for success in the past have tended to be (in no paticular order):
1) Not setting out to “pray for an hour” with a set idea of what that is but setting out with a desire to converse with God.
2) Using scripture, reading and praying it until things begin to flow better.
3) Having times of prayer as an integrated expression of a full life in open relationships with God and others rather than a bolted on necessity or duty.
4) Rising early, or sitting up late when there are fewer distractions around and time stretches out a bit.
5) Recognising that prayer is the front line of the flesh/spirit battle and preparing accordingly.
6) Falling in love with God afresh.
I agree with those who describe a man’s prayer life as the true measure of his religion. To pray is a full on assault on personal pride because it is not done in full view of others and most of the time we will not get credit for it.
Thank you for the challenge – I think it will keep most of us going for the rest of our lives.
Here’s another suggestion for a tough challenge that could be a life’s work, “learn how to love your enemies”.
You’re right. It is a challenge. But if men really want a challenge, well, there it is. Tozer used to start his day with five hours (!) of prayer and George Mueller setup several prayer sessions every day that cumulatively lasted five hours or more.
To add to your list of things to help prayer, let me tell you something that revolutionized my prayer life: getting out in my car at night and praying while driving. Now you won’t find that in many books on prayer, but it worked for me. Allows you to pray out loud, too, without bothering anyone. You can also take along the Bible on CD or your favorite worship recordings and play those from time to time. When I started praying for my extended neighborhood in Cincinnati, some nights I’d be out for three hours or more! I’d just pray for everything I saw. There’s a school—pray for the school. Firehouse, police station, hospital, whatever. You could could pray for any people or drivers you encounter. I used to pray against abortion clinics, psychics and fortune tellers, and all that. Saw great victories.
I started that because I had a relationship that broke up and just felt like yelling in my car. God quickly transformed the whole thing to be not about me, but all those other people and places that needed His touch.
You’re right, too, in saying that the flesh/self wars against that, but for me the transition to praying in my car stilled that war from the flesh/self very quickly.
Now I can’t say this is for everyone, but it’s the kind of idea that can shake the dust off a dusty prayer life. Other ideas are out there if we are willing to try them. Who knows what will work for you?
I agree with those who describe a man’s prayer life as the true measure of his religion.
Ravenhill said it this way: “A man is only as deep as his prayer life.”
That’s very true.
I, too, am troubled by the lack of prayer in our church meetings. My wife grew up within the Quaker/Friends tradition and a couple times we attended traditional “open” Quaker services where people moved by the Holy Spirit asked for or initiated prayer for themselves or others right in the meeting.
What was great about this is that no one could say that they left without getting prayer from the ENTIRE church. When was the last time you encountered anything like that in your typical church today?
I’m going to bring up Emerging church here with the caveat that I do not support Emergent as such, but I like some of the changes they are willing to make to better accommodate people’s real needs. One thing I like that some Emergent churches are doing is opening up time within their meetings for more interaction, especially in prayer and the teaching, letting people ask for prayer on the spot and allowing people to ask questions during the teachings. I think both of those can be incorporated into any church. No doctrine is being abused by doing so, so why not? I don’t personally like the forced divider we erect between the people leading and the people in the seats. Perhaps breaking that down some is a good thing. House churches definitely do that, but there’s no reason why traditional churches can’t. The Quakers broke it down entirely, and while I’m not certain that is 100% the best way to do things, there’s a stronger sense of community that stems from that so it’s hard to argue against it.