Prayer is not a program for the Church
Prayer does not work. Much as we would like it to be the driving force in the Church, it simply will not adapt itself to the programmatic approach to ministry found in most churches today. So many of the ministries of the Church lend themselves to programs, whether they are men's or women's ministries, youth and children activities, even small groups and Bible studies. Prayer does not fit. The reason for prayer's failure in the Church is simple: Prayer requires intimacy with God and takes us to places beyond our control.
All other ministries of the Church can be managed by meetings, promotions, and structures. We cannot vote to pray. We cannot generate pep-rally enthusiasm for prayer as we do with so many other up-front ministries. We cannot build an infrastructure for prayer. As a result, prayer becomes relegated to two venues: We start other ministries with prayer, just as we pray over a meal, and we leave the heavy lifting of prayer for those who are not fit for other activities. By this, I mean the infirm, the elderly, and the shut-ins.
Prayer is intimate conversation with God and that does not lend itself to the rah-rah promotions of the highly visible programmed activities in the local church. One cannot be signed up for prayer. One either loves the Lord and wants to talk to Him and hear from Him, or one does not.
Perhaps it is the required intimacy of prayer that prevents it from becoming popular in the Church. And that may be why women are usually the driviing force behind prayer in most local churches. They desire intimacy and they know when it occurs. They thirst for it as men do not. Men tend to want action and results, not intimacy.
In my own life, without my wife's need for prayer and delight in prayer, I would be nearly prayerless. It seems like such a long way round for a shortcut. "Let's just do it!" is how my brain works and what it tells me when there is something needed or something that I need to do. Fortunatel;y, I have a wife who delights in prayer and consistently experiences the fruit of a life of prayer. Fortunately, I get to pray with her. As a result, I have seen my children and their spouses, and my grandchildren, walking the narrow path of a God-pleasing life.
Through my daily time of prayer with my wife, and my growing time of personal alone-time with God in prayer, I am learning of this intimacy with God. And this is an intimacy that cannot be prorammed or placed on a church's ministry agenda.
I have much more to share, but this should be sufficient for now to irritate some and encourage others.