NOTES OF PRAYER MEETING*
We should consistently re-examine what we do and why we do it, in the light of the Scriptures. We may do things because they have always been done, but we must consider the Scriptural justification for the prayer meeting, and examine the Scriptural principles which are to guide us in public prayer.
There are many instances recorded in the New Testament when the church met together for prayer:-
Acts 1:14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication …..” (The emphasis here was “with one accord” – with agreement).
Acts 2:42 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”.
Acts 4:24 “….. they lifted up their voice to God, with one accord, and said. Lord, thou art God …..”
Acts 12:5 “….. but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him”.
Acts 16:13 “And on the sabbath day we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made” (The location of a prayer meeting does not matter so much – it was the prayers from the heart which the Lord heard).
As private prayer is a sign of life in the soul, so public prayer is a sign of life in the church. Where there is a living soul, there will be prayer; where there is a living church there will be prayer. Private prayer is the response of a living soul to its need; in public prayer, it is the response of a company of believers to the needs of that company. In private prayer there is that opening of the heart to God regarding one’s own state;
in public prayer there is that concern expressed for the needs of the community. There is great strength in the unanimity of prayer:-
“The force of their united cries
No power can long withstand”
In the references to prayer in the Acts, there seems to be three divisions of need:-
1) The need for God to deliver, to intervene.
Peter and John were under threat from the Sanhedrin. The Church of Jesus Christ today is threatened by many enemies, and there is much need to pray against the attacks of Satan.
2) The second type of need which the church expressed in its prayer meetings was the need for guidance. (Acts 1:24). The church was concerned that the right person should be chosen to fill the place of Judas Iscariot, they wanted God to show them what was right, what was His will.
We as a church and people very greatly need the Lord’s guidance at this point in time. There should be much prayer that we might know the guiding hand of the Lord upon us.
3) The need to pray for God’s blessing upon what He had shown them to do.
(Acts 6:6). They had been shown that it was right for them to appoint seven deacons, and we read in this verse 6 “… and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them”. They had done something in the fear of the Lord which they felt to be right, and they prayed over what they had done.
In Acts 13:3 we read “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them. they sent them away”. They had received guidance to separate Barnabas and Saul “for the work whereunto I have called them”. They prayed for God’s blessing to be upon them; they prayed for them in their work.
what encouragement there is in the Word of God for us to meet together, and what clear proofs we have that God honours prayer – He is pleased to regard the prayer of His people. It was at the beginning of Daniel’s supplication that the commandment went forth. (Daniel 9:23).
*This was a meeting held at Rehoboth Chapel, Coventry on 3 January 1984. Soon after this meeting, Mr. Paul Watts, who led the meeting, was appointed as Pastor of the church as from January 1985, May God’s blessing be seen very powerfully in both the church and their future Pastor.-Editor.