And He Prayed Again is the title of the message Carter Conlon, senior pastor of Times Square (TSQ) Church, preached on June 19, 2016. As it happens, I was in New York City taking part in an arranged graduate level “Church Growth and Planting” course. In truth, I was at the church to make observations more than to hear the message or get involved in the life of the church. I was focused on identifying the distinct tell-tale markers of the evangelical assimilation process, culture of congregation, ethnicity range, etc. My intent was to be there for now longer than the first half hour of the service before heading off to the next stop on my church-data-gathering tour
Before I knew it, I was caught up with the corporate Spirit of the congregation during the praise segment of the program. After the praise was over, rather than leave as I had originally planned, I found myself taking a seat along with the rest of the congregation. I describe the experience as being arrested and then captivated by how the Spirit was working in the TSQ Church sanctuary that morning. That happened with nearly every church I visited that week. Point being, the Holy Spirit is at work in New York City.
At any rate, Carter Conlon takes center stage with his message for the day And He Prayed Again. The message came in and went out from James 5:17-18, centering on the account of Elijah’s commitment to prayer in his ministry as a prophet while also drawing on Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow of Luke 18 and the Israelites constant crying out to Yahweh in Exodus 18.
In the account of Elijah, he persisted in prayer for years on behalf of the Israelites in order to turn them back towards Yahweh. In the parable of the the widow, she persisted in her cause with the judge until she received her answer. In the narrative of the pre-Exodus Israelites, they continued in their corporate cry until they were delivered. From the heart of God, Pastor Conlon challenged the TSQ Church to be as persistent in prayer for New York City.
Likewise, the impact of this message on me was to persist in prayer trusting that, so long as my will is inline with our LORD’s will, He will deliver. The significance of these three particular illustrations is that we live in an instant society. By the grace of God, most anything we want is only a button press or quick excursion away. This is not to say that I regularly indulge in or could afford most things I want. Even so, when I do want something I usually do not have to wait long to have it.
Be that as it may, even though there are multiple instances of God working immediate deliverance and/or healing in the Bible accounts, the Bible also portrays Yahweh as a God of process when it comes to answering some prayers. God works on His own time and in His own way which includes answering prayer. My responsibility as a believer is to persistently pray in faith, trusting that God is working on our behalf behind the scenes. If and when He see fit, He will allow me to witness the fruit of my prayers.
The take home for me was to remain steadfast in prayer, making supplication on behalf of the men who God has called me to minister to as well as myself. Rather than be discouraged by our setbacks, failures, and waiting on the LORD, I ought to pray all the more earnestly for the victories. Ultimately, our fight is not against flesh and blood but against wicked cosmic powers in spiritual places. Prayer is the only hotline that I have to the only One who can deliver the wins as He is the One who reigns supreme (cf. Eph. 6:18) This is important because I am committed to the long haul to fight for and with God-fearing, Jesus-loving men of the Church. My calling is that at my death or Christ’s return I be found among a league of men who persisted in prayer and kept faith on the Earth. And He Prayed Again has been instrumental in helping me become fully aware of this. Praise God.