Don’t neglect the powerhouse
Prayer is the powerhouse of the church. It is said that the spirituality of a church can be measured by the substance and demeanour of its weekly prayer meeting.
We need to ask ourselves if there is a genuine evangelistic concern. Is there a heartfelt longing for the conversion of the unsaved? Is there a global vision and a fervent desire for revival and the propagation of the gospel to other lands?
But what is true prayer? John Bunyan defines prayer as ‘a sensible, sincere and affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God through Christ – in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit – for such things as God has promised according to his word for the church, with submission in faith to the will of God’ (John Bunyan, Praying in the Spirit, 1662).
The church should rally regularly at the throne of grace, to intercede for the lost, pray for the spiritual well-being of its members, and praise and thank God corporately – all to the edification of saints.
Spurgeon, the prince of preachers in nineteenth-century England, emphasised corporate prayer: ‘In 1866 Spurgeon instituted daily prayer meetings at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London at 7 in the morning and again 7:30 each evening’ (The Life & Work of C. H. Spurgeon, Holden Pike, Banner of Truth, 1991).
The main Tabernacle prayer meeting used to take place on Monday evenings and was attended by over 3000. To provide for participation, there were supplementary times for prayer by smaller groups within the church. The church was flourishing because the people were praying and the Lord richly blessed and prospered their ministry.
The New Testament records many instances of church prayer meetings. While the disciples waited for the Day of Pentecost, ‘these all continued with one accord in prayer and supplications with the women …’ (Acts 1:14). When the apostle Peter was incarcerated it was the church that prayed for him (Acts 12:12). As they were praying for his release, Peter himself arrived – an answer to their corporate praying. It was as the elders at Antioch prayed and fasted together that the Spirit revealed his mission for Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-3; see also 14:23).
Paul enjoined the Corinthians to pray for him corporately. In 2 Corinthians 1:11 he wrote: ‘Ye also helping together by prayer for us that, for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf’. The first church in Europe has its genesis in a (Jewish) prayer meeting for women (Acts 16:13).
Paul always asked churches to strive together with him in prayers to God. Romans 15:30 says, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me’.
Audience with God
It is customary for us to note engagements in our diaries (or BlackBerry for some). If you were invited to meet the Queen, would you remember the appointment? Each time we attend a prayer meeting, we have an audience with the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The prayer meeting to seek God is important and should have precedence over all other demands on our time. When was the last time you attended the church prayer meeting? Or have you never attended it at all?
My wife and I have been attending our church’s prayer meeting for the past 15 years and we always set aside Wednesday night to seek the Lord in corporate prayer (unless we are sick or away). We find it needful to come regularly to join the church – to uphold one another before the Lord in prayer and to hear others share in thanksgiving to the Lord.
All churches, whatever their size, could do with more people coming to the prayer meeting, to engage in fruitful and fervent intercession for one another before the Lord.
We stand in urgent need of personal and corporate revival – in ourselves and in the church. Revivals always seem to have their genesis in prayer meetings. How can a church grow and fulfil its calling unless the members commit it to the Lord in frequent prayer, both privately and corporately?
We thank God for those fellowship members who attend the church weekly prayer meeting regularly. Let me urge and strongly encourage you all to unite with the church in intercessory prayer once a week – to testify to God’s goodness and guidance in our lives and pray together as a church family.
Come, and be blessed also by the clear teaching of the Word and collective singing of hymns. Bless others as you testify and share God’s grace in your life, so that others will be exhorted too.
May the Lord provoke and spur us to cultivate consecrated and prayerful lives, both individually and corporately. We hope to see you there at the weekly corporate prayer meeting!