This is a great article and I just had to re-post it.
Posted on October 18, 2011 by defrostingwindows
What is the First sign to look for? What is a sure mark of a Greatest Commands Church? It all starts with the Heart.
Jesus said that the First and Greatest Commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. The pattern is consistent throughout the Bible. It ALWAYS begins with the HEART. If you jump over this step your church is susceptible to having a “heart attack”. The enemy of the Church loves to aim at the heart and bring division, coldness, confusion, to throw you off-identity and off-purpose.
In a church setting, what does it look like to love God beginning with the heart? “When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers”. They never stopped doing this. They knew the value of praying together in one place.
I think it may have felt like an oven and sounded like a symphony. I imagine that sometimes one of them would be like a lead instrument with voices filling the background. At other times, it would be a pure solo. And then, you would have a silence that was stirring because you were hearing his voice speak into your heart. Still, other times they would all blend their voices into great crescendos like waves crashing on the shoreline. Sometimes you might hear the sprinkling of tears and bursts of joy at the same time. Some may have shouted while others lay still. Some may have danced in faith waiting for the promise, while others healed through grieving cries. I don’t think that “One accord” always meant they had the same expression at the same time. However, it does mean that they were drinking from the same Water. And we know that when people gather at a public beach to enjoy the water, they all enjoy it differently; and yet, there is harmony. I was in a church like this, and soul-winning was as easy as picking flowers. Loving prayer = power in Love. Every week the altars were filled and the discipleship classes were thriving. No kidding.
WATCH THIS CAREFULLY:
“Pray, then, in this way:‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name, ‘Your kingdom come.Your will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
Wow! Plural, plural, and more plural! You were NEVER meant to pray the Lord’s Prayer ALONE. There are just some things that you need to have others join with you and pray it outloud t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r ! Satan has robbed much of the church from seeing the value and experiencing the dynamic power of praying in one accord. Again, the greatest thing that we are commanded to do is to love God beginning with the HEART. That part of the greatest commandment is exercised through prayer, worship, adoration, and thanksgiving!
Jesus called the disciples to become fishers of men, but that didn’t reach fulfillment until three years later. In the meantime, He taught them how to pray together first. Before this army was sent forth, they reached one accord through the breath of the Spirit (John 20:22) and the action of corporate prayer. Before they went forth, they learned how to pray forth…together.
One of the primary marks of a Great Commandments Church is that it is a house of prayer for the nations. It is a church that places a premium upon gathered corporate prayer. It looks like Acts 1: 13-14. It is a church where the leaders are practicing, teaching, and leading the people into the ways of loving God from the heart through corporate prayer without fail. They keep first things first.
Jesus said, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. What was missing? The first and greatest command had been set aside. I wonder if they had minimized the practice of meeting just to pray together? I wonder if they cut back on their corporate worship-unto-God? I wonder.
If you are in a church that really prays together, turn the flame higher and keep putting legs to the prayers. If your church isn’t doing this like it should, then put some fuel on the flame and get folks to gather. If your church doesn’t want to do this, but turns a deaf ear and has its passions placed elsewhere, it may be time to leave before God puts the candle out.