“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…” – Acts 1:14
Ceaseless prayer to God is God’s will for us (1 Thes. 5:16-18). This type of dedication to prayer is “the clearest mark of…a humble, God-dependent spirit…,” writes Paul Tautges. We all know it is true, and we’ve heard it a thousand times: If you want to humble a Christian, ask him or her about their prayer life. Ouch! The Bible has a great deal to say about prayer; the references everywhere remind us of what many old pastors have said before: Prayer for the Christian is like breathing. The Bible cannot conceive of a Christian who doesn’t pray; yet, we must repeatedly be exhorted to pray. Like the apostles we are always needing to learn how to pray like our Lord and Savior (Luke 11:1). Prayerlessness is the essence of a self-sufficient heart and a disclosure of a depraved desire for independence from God. This is true for Christians individually and corporately. Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “We shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.” Alex Montoya reminds us that faithfulness and not success is the key to our maturing together in Christ: “The answer to many church’s problems is not more seminars, programs, and promotional gimmicks but more intercession on the part of God’s people…” Because prayer is so vital for our maturing together in Christ, we want to not just pay lip service to that truth but put it into practice. Therefore, we’re starting a quarterly corporate prayer meeting. We already have a corporate prayer meeting that meets on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m., but our aim is to have more prayer and not less. But in order to prepare us for our first Sunday prayer meeting, I want to encourage your participation by giving you the purposes of prayer meetings as found in Joel Beeke’s book, The Family at Church:
- To Promote and increase the knowledge of the truths, ordinances, and works of God (Col. 3:16; Ps. 111:2).
- To express and exercise mutual sympathy among the members (Rom. 15:1-2; Gal. 6:2).
- Praying together is often the means God uses to initiate or increase revival.
- Praying together increases the commitment of believers to the kingdom of Jesus Christ at home, throughout the nation, and around the world.
- Praying together provides an important spiritual oasis in a busy week.
- Praying together increases unity in the church… Peter Masters puts it this way: “In the prayer gathering, preoccupation with ourselves as individual believers slips away, and we become a group of people longing for the blessing of others, and for the prosperity of the cause. In the prayer gathering we are refined and honed as a united body of people. It cements unions, and promotes respect. We hear each other pray; we subordinate ourselves to each other; we appreciate each other. We feel, as the old saying goes, one another’s spirits, and we are warmed and deepened in oneness and regard. To adopt a well-worn phrase, “the church that prays together, stays together.”
- Praying together utilizes the spiritual life of the church for the good of all the church’s ministries.
- Praying together increases the Christ-centeredness of believers.
- Praying together provides an education in prayer for the entire church. Believers grow in the gift of prayer as they hear others pray. They learn to appreciate specificity in prayer, passionate pleading, Christ-centered wrestling, and fresh modes of expression. Iron sharpens iron. Young believers learn from older ones, and older believers are encouraged by the sincere petitions of the younger.
- Praying together demonstrates our complete dependence upon God’s sovereign power and gracious blessing for all His ministries and all our work in His church and kingdom. It is a corporate recognition that without Christ we can do nothing and that with Him we have large expectations. Praying together helps us turn our eyes heavenward to the God of the harvest who has promised great things.”
Dear saints in Christ, it is my hope that these purposes will spur us to seek together the Kingdom of God and His righteousness for the glory of God. May God stir up in us collectively a heart to devote ourselves to prayer, for He has promised to draw near to those who draw near to him (James 4:8).
Soli Deo Gloria!