Jesus doesn’t meet our needs; he rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs, and he gives me needs I would’ve never had if I hadn’t met Jesus. He reorders them.
I used to ask seminarians, “Why are you in seminary?” They’d say, “I like meeting people’s needs.” And I’d say, “Whoa. Really? If you try that with the people I know, they’ll eat you alive.”
Now, if you’re a pastor in Honduras, it might be okay to define your ministry as meeting needs, because more people in Honduras have interesting biblical needs – food, clothing, housing. But most people in the churches I know get those needs met without prayer. So they’ve moved on to “needs” like orgasm, a satisfying career, an enjoyable love life, a positive outlook on life, and stuff the Bible has absolutely no interest in. –WIll Willimon, interview with Leadership, 2006
Willimon can bite hard. This is a stinging critique, but sometimes the sting makes us actually look at our own skin.
What role does prayer have in our churches? Before we give some answers on this, take an honest, solid look at how often we pray for our churches in our personal time, how often we pray with our people, how often we encourage our people to pray, etc.
Maybe prayer is our need.