Let me start by asking you a question about what you think it takes to start a church. What do you think it takes to win your friends or lead a community into a vibrant life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ?
For some of us the answer to those questions may be simple. Simple as get some good connections, a celebrity preacher to do a spot for you, run it on radio or TV – than get a little social on all the social networks and you are on your way. But it wasn’t that easy for Paul and his companions. For them, it was great labor both physically and spiritually.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. Galatians 4:19
There is one thing worth mentioning in this verse:
Besides the many details mentioned in Acts 13 and Acts 14 about his sorrows and bitter sufferings, there had been an agony of travail (like that of a woman in childbirth) on Paul’s part at the founding of those churches. And it is that same kind of travail he was in again, knowing that they were drifting into Judaism.
I think it is possible to start a church, have a great communicator who can make people laugh, borrow things other churches are doing, look cool, do cool things and have a great following.
But it is one thing to have a great following, a great church in terms of numbers and innovation – and totally another thing to have a following and a great number of people in whom Christ has and is being formed.
The only way to build such an army is through travailing prayer. This is no child’s kind of prayer. It is hard work and very difficult. This kind of prayer is not talked about much today at our cute conferences or in our churches. Because we have replaced it with innovation and fun stuff. But just as Hezekiah said back in the day – I too believe…
this day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; for children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. Isaiah 37:3
We lack the power to bring people to Christ and the ability to allow Christ to be formed in them. We are trying everything else but the one thing that gets the job done – consistent, serious, persevering – “travailing prayer”. This one is for those who truly want to make disciples and followers of Jesus Christ.