Get out of Social Media for a couple of minutes. Let me talk books. Paper, glue, ink, binding, cover art and so much more. Okay, maybe books for you are more digital – 1s and 0s that make an artistic splash on iBooks, Kindle, Libby, etc. Or maybe you are like my son, you want it read to you – so Audible, iBooks audio books or whatever platform fits your fancy. Books.
What are you reading? What wonderful wisdom and imagination and artistry and edification and escapism and stories are you diving in to?
Me? I read more than the average person, but not nearly as much as I prefer. But in 2022, I decided to read at least one book a month on prayer. This is over and above other literature tomes I will read – I want a specific monthly challenge on prayer. So here is my insight on January’s. The book is that best seller by Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle in the messiness of New York City. The title – Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.
Filled with stories of lives changed. Overflowing throughout with a pastor’s burden to see people truly come boldly before the throne with fervent prayers. And it is tapered with the reality that this is not from an entitled snobbery of some pray-ers … but an honest brokenness that allows the Holy Spirit free to “invade the hearts His people!”
Cymbala calls the church to spend less time on revamping music and more time on our knees. It is not a church growth book filled with programs, pithy statements, or church marketing – but it is a story of how God grew Brooklyn Tab through fervent prayers.
I don’t know how anyone can come away from reading the story after story of people’s lives finding forgiveness, restoration and redemption and not be encouraged to pray more.
Some have said Cymbala’s work de-prioritizes the preached Word – overshadowing proclaiming the Gospel with prayer. But maybe we’ve so emphasized preaching (even to a rock star mentality) that we miss the power of what prayer can and should be in the church’s life. I don’t see this as a worship war issue as much as a balance issue. Yes, Pentecost was preaching – but they spent 10 days praying before hand.
Cymbala challenges us that the prayer meeting will be the “barometer of the church” – it is the prayer meetings that will gauge the strength and health of the church. In churches across the nation, hundreds show up for preaching, but how many for prayer meetings? For Brooklyn Tab, it’s the opposite. Prayers meetings are the time to gather!
Our nation is not short on preaching, books, studies, conferences … not that anything is wrong with Bible centered, Christ honoring works … but I would say we lack the passion to call upon the Lord and cry out for Him to open up the heavens and show His presence and His power.
Prayer is not something we should feel we ‘ought’ to do. Prayer is something we should be ‘driven’ to do. It’s a privilege, a delight, and an awesome event when we come boldly before the throne.
My copy of the work is dog eared, underlined, marked up, and maybe a tear stain or two. I desire to pray, but I too often yield to distraction, delay, and discouragement. This work reminds me God is still at work.
Cymbala ends the book with this thought …