Monday, August 16, 2010
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PRAYER MEETING?
Last night, (Sunday, August 15, 2010), our church met for our weekly prayer meeting, which we call "Fresh Encounters". It was the highest attended prayer meeting since we started this about two months ago. There were about 30 people there.
Now, 30 sounds like a lot, and it is....but Sunday morning...just a few hours earlier on the same day we had about 90 for our morning service. Only one third came back to pray together.
What has happened to the prayer meeting?
I read in Acts 1:14 "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers."
They ALL joined together in prayer. Not 10%, not 25%, not 33%, not 50%, not 75%...but they ALL joined together in prayer. Now that got me thinking, and please, don't misunderstand what I'm about to say here, because I LOVE Loma Rica Baptist Church where I pastor, but if we were the first church, it is obvious that the passage would instead have read, "And one third of them joined together constantly in prayer." How sad.
I hear all the time that people wish the church was more like it used to be in the early days of the church. That they wish church was more like it was in the book of Acts. Well, truthfully, I don't think most people know what they are asking for when they make this type of statement, but the bottom line is, we are the church. If the church is not what it should be, then whose fault is it?
I really believe that one of the major problems of the church is that they don't meet for corporate prayer, seeking the face of God together. Think about it. If we were to travel in time for just a moment, and if you or I were part of the early church there, would you have been there? Would I have been there? No fair using the excuse that of course you would have been because that's where the Christians were back then...based on our prayer habits today....would we have been there?
I hear from every corner of Christianity today that we want to see revival in America, that we want to see a move of God, that we want to see the Holy Spirit poured out on the church, and yet what do we do to prepare the way?
Those words "joined together" means unanimously...they were all for it! Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine what it would be like for everyone who goes to your church (or mine) to join together, unanimously in prayer? GLORY TO GOD THAT WOULD BE AMAZING!!!
Verse 14 also says that they joined together "constantly". Other translations use the following words: "steadfastly" (AMP), "continued" (KJV), "devoting" (ESV). Now we have to ask ourselves, do any of those words describe the prayer life you have with your church? If not, why not? Is this not the example set before us? Now stay with me here, while we unpack this word "constantly" a bit more. The word, "constantly" is a combination of two greek words, one (en) meaning to “have hold, use” and the other (proskartereo) meaning o be earnest towards, to persevere, be constantly diligent, or to attend assiduously all the exercises, or to adhere closely to - attend (give self) continually (upon), continue (in, instant in, with), wait on (continually).
When you put that all together you have a description of prayer that is energetic and muscular...it is having a tight hold of prayer...and persevering in prayer, being earnest in prayer, and continuing in prayer.
Our biggest problem with prayer in the church is that we have developed into such a "me" churh. We want what we want and we don't want to have to coninue in anything, much less persevere...oh no, that would require time, sacrifice, and that really bad word: commitment. We want McChurch! We put in our order for a little McSermon, heavy on the grace, but light on the doctrine and commitment please. We will take a small serving of McPrayer, but super-size the blessings please!
I want to encourage you to be men and women of prayer. I want to encourage any pastors who are reading this to become pastors who pray! The church will never rise higher in prayer than where the pastor is. If the pastor is small in prayer, so the church will be.
I wasn't always so fired up about prayer, but I went to a "Prayer Summit" put on by Daniel Henderson through his ministry, "Strategic Renewal". I will post the link to his website at the bottom of this entry, and tomorrow I will share a little about what others have had to say about prayer, and some stories of prayer meetings throughout history.
If you find Daniel Henderson is conducting a prayer summit anywhere near where you can get to, my advice to you is: GO! Churches, if your pastor wants to go to a prayer summit, let me just say that you should encourage him and pay for his way and for his wife to go as well...you, as a church, will reap blessings from having a pastor who is convinced of the need and the power of prayer.
Praying for all who will read this,