Bring Back the Prayer Meeting

8 12 2008

pentecost1In the conversation about what needs to be restored to the church I can’t stop thinking about our need to bring back the prayer meeting.  If you list what gatherings Christians typically attend today in order of consistency and frequency it might go something like –

1. weekly worship service
2. small group
3. ministry team or committee meeting
4. second teaching meeting (sunday night sermon etc.)
5. prayer meeting

When I read the New Testament regarding the frequency of gatherings it seems to go something like this –

1. the prayer meeting
2. discipleship training
3. body gathering
4. the lord’s supper (love feast)
5. city worship

Passages just in Acts that refer to constant, spontaneous prayer meetings include –

Acts 1 – Prayer in the upper room – “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves…to prayer”

Acts 3:1 – “1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”

Acts 4:24, – “4When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God…31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Acts 6 – “We will turn this responsibility over to them 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

“They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.”

Acts 12 – “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”

“where many people had gathered and were praying.”

Acts 13 – “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

Acts 14 – “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”

Acts 16 – “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.”

“Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl”

Acts 20 – “36When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.”

Acts 22 – “”When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance”

I just received an email this morning from someone in our body calling a spontaneous prayer meeting on Tuesday and I’m so encouraged.  These prayer meetings should be called constantly.  We must become a praying people that call prayer meetings as often as we think to call someone to grab lunch, come over for dinner or get a cup of coffee.

Many thanks as well to my friend Justin for pointing me to the importance of the prayer meeting in Acts.  Please share your thoughts on this and other ideas for bringing back the New Testament practice of spontaneous and rhythmic prayer meetings.  How do we make these meetings full of life and energy?  How do we motivate each other think like this naturally?  What lies are hindering this?  What beliefs will enflame this?

Prayer, Power and Wielding the Authority of Christ

30 03 2007

No part of the Christian life has been more difficult for me than prayer. What motivates me and fills me with energy for a task is a clear understanding and connection with its purpose. But prayer is such a mystery. Its ultimate purpose shrouded. Its actual impact on reality uncertain.

So prayer, in particular intercessory prayer, is only present in my life as a result of determined discipline.

Prayer as relationship has always made sense to me but asking for things from God has not.

Then I encountered this simple verse “And God said, let there be light…”

When reading this verse before I would read between the lines and assume that after God said this he exerted some pulse of power that made it happen. But this time something different occurred to me. Maybe this verse is actually literally true? Maybe God just spoke and it was. No power (in the physical sense), only authority. If God speaks matter merely obeys his word.

This would make sense of Jesus’ word to the raging sea – “Be still”. And his disciples response “Even the wind and waves OBEY him.” I thought Jesus emanated power over the wind but maybe his words simply wield authority. That the very words of God make things happen not through some process of physical power but through a deeper process of supernatural authority.

Ah ha! Is that how prayer works? When Jesus said “Pray in MY NAME” this was an invitation to borrow his authority? That when he says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” he was encouraging us that, in the name of Jesus, his disciples call upon the one with ultimate authority.

This makes sense of the importance of praying out loud. Not that we can’t say things in our heart but why wouldn’t we want to speak in the name of Jesus when praying for healing, or for peace, or for anything else.

Considering the implications of this paradigm of intercessory prayer really blows my mind.

  • I would constantly be praying about what to pray about. Holy Spirit how do you want me to use Christ’s authority?
  • Once I believed in a prayer I would want to say it out loud and preferably in a public gathering of other believers.
  • I would pray with far more confidence as one wielding authority, as a viceroy of the King speaking his will into our existence.

Something I need to continue to ponder God help me…