When God is the Main Attraction

Posted: Feb 17, 2023

Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, “My house shall be called a house of preaching”? Does it ever say, “My house shall be called a house of music”? Of course not. The Bible does say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”. Preaching, music, the reading of the Word – these things are fine; I believe in and practice all of them. But they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God’s dwelling. The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.
-Jim Cymbala
Senior Pastor – Brooklyn Tabernacle

Before the great revival in Gallneukirchen broke out, Martin Boos spent hours and days and often nights in lonely agonies of intercession. Afterwards, when he preached, his words were as flame and the hearts of the people as grass.
-DM McIntyre

When born again believers stop petty bickering over nonessentials and go to their knees in old-fashioned, beseeching prayer, we shall have revival.
-Vance Havner

By now many of you know about what is happening in Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. On Wednesday, February 8, a chapel service there had the wonderful blessing of the presence of God descending on their meeting. Since then prayer, confession of sin, moments of silence, worship (with just a piano and a guitar), have been ongoing, 24 hours a day.

Everything inside of me was screaming “I want to go!” From personal experience I know that when we pair confession of sin with prayer from broken people who aren’t playing church, that the door opens wide for God to show up. I’ve experienced His presence during prayer meetings and solo prayer times in the desert… there’s no mystery to encountering Him, it’s a matter of doing what He says, being a doer of His word.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

I asked God if I should go to Wilmore. His reply was “no” and to stay the course with what He’s given me. As I write this I’m sick and coughing, which wouldn’t go over in a prayer meeting.

Pictures abound online of people lining up to fill the more than 1400 seat chapel at Asbury, with some driving long distances. Why would so many want to travel to a university chapel in Wilmore, Kentucky that most, including me, had never heard of?

God is the main attraction. God’s people are thirsty for more than 3 songs and a sermon. On most Sunday services where is our focus? The platform, while the worship band is blasting out their tunes, and then on the pastor and his message. When we look for a church what do we look for? Usually, who the pastor is, what the worship is like, the family programs. During prayer our eyes are locked on God; He is our focus.

Who (besides this rogue writer) looks for prayer meetings when they’re searching for a church? Can you picture one of the big-name Christian pastors leading their flock in an all-morning prayer meeting on Sunday, with no message, just people crying out for God, inviting Him to convict them of sin, and waiting in silence?

John the Baptist’s training was in God’s University of Silence. God takes all His great men there.
Leonard Ravenhill

Many are all over the Asbury story because prayer and repentance in church is an oddity… which shows how far we’ve drifted.

I found it intriguing that the events in Asbury ran through Super Bowl weekend, that great extravaganza of sports entertainment, and was immediately preceded by the Grammys, which ran on February 5. We couldn’t ask for a clearer contrast; people running out of church on Super Bowl Sunday morning, while people were running to Asbury Chapel to pray and encounter God.

The same church members who yell like crazed madmen at a ball game on Saturday sit like wooden idols in church on Sunday.
– Vance Havner

When God is the main attraction, and we build the church on prayer and repentance (see Acts 1-2), the true believers run to church. The lukewarm? “Pass me the remote. Isn’t that revival thing in Asbury cool?”

Some are wringing their hands on whether to call the Asbury prayer meetings a revival, a spiritual awakening, or a fraud. What difference does it make what you call it? I believe God is showing the entire country what every church could be if they do what He’s already told us to do in His word – be devoted to prayer, fellowship, and teaching, refuse to be enchanted by entertainment, and go hard after Him.

A former Calvary Chapel pastor recently told me that after he tried to incorporate prayer into their morning services that it got shut down. It comes back to pride: “We will do church our way because this is the American way and what our denomination does.” Has anyone flown to your church lately from 500 miles away?

Satan would have us increase even in Bible knowledge, I believe, as long as we keep from prayer. What use is deeper knowledge if we have shallow hearts?
Leaonard Ravenhill

Forget about trying to copy Asbury; your motives will be off and you’ll fail. This isn’t about working a program or being a “me too,” but obedience to the Bible. Read Jonah chapter 3: the unbelieving king and his subjects received mercy because they focused hard on crying out to God for mercy in heaven-rending prayer, and repentance. That’s it. No worship band, no church, no pastor, not even a Bible.

Whole days and weeks I have spent prostrate on the ground in silent and vocal prayer.
– George Whitefield

It seemed to me as if he had gone straight into heaven, and lost himself in God; but often when he had done praying he was as white as the wall.
A friend’s comment after meeting Tersteegen at Kronenberg.

Pastors, how about it? Do you have the courage to devote your Sunday mornings to prayer and repentance, and to hold prayer meetings seven days a week?

My friends, how’s your prayer life? Are you spending an hour a day in prayer? Colossians 4:2 tells us to be devoted to prayer. I know that God hears and answers my prayers according to His good pleasure. How about you? The way we learn to pray, is to pray. Invite God to do whatever it takes to convict you of sin, so you can have more of Him.

I wrote about the businessman’s revival of the 1850’s in The Rogue Christian, and the Hebrides revival in the second rogue book, The Way of the Rogue, Living a Life that Counts for eternity. Both of these movements started when God’s people committed (devoted) themselves to ongoing, fervent prayer. You can read those stories in the links above.

This is what every church and believer needs.
And you don’t have to fly to Kentucky. There are two types of Christians, the spectators, and those who are determined to make an impact. Hopefully you want to do more than watch the show from the bleachers.

If you haven’t heard of what’s happening in Asbury, a friend sent me this link:

Let’s make God the main attraction of our churches and our lives.

Picture from: https://billelliff.org/blogs/news/reflections-from-asbury