When Prayer Meeting was young

“So what do you do at your prayer meeting?” The visiting leader asked.

 

“We pray,” I told him.

 

“ Yes…but what else?”

 

For the people of my generation who have regularly attended church services,the term “prayer meeting” often conjures up a gathering of old, grey haired old saints nodding to Bible study readings on the subject of prayer,punctuated by wordy commentaries on how we ought to be praying more. While these elements may be present in our prayer meetings, wouldnʼt we rather people remember having experienced prayer,rather than have just theorized about it?

 

Here are some recent comments we received from our House of Prayer Experience meeting participants:

 

“We donʼt always know what to expect”

 

“People care and ask me how Iʼm doing”

 

“You can actually feel the Spirit at work”

 

“You actually pray there”

 

If these responses seems unusual for the churches in North America,no wonder that man asked me what we did in there on Wednesdays. While the idea of a prayer meeting might sound like an old-fashioned and dying activity for some, many realize that there is no other way to experience God and make a powerful spiritual impact in our local community.

 

How about we go back to the basic? Letʼs use as a blueprint, the Book of Acts. It is after all, the record of the Christian Church’s beginning.

 

By Acts 2:43-27, the disciples of Jesus seem very successful and effective as their ministry expands. They were doing the right things and making a difference in their community.

 

What was their strategy? What was the main thing? You know it. A good old fashioned prayer meeting:

 

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with thewomen, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”-Acts 1:14 (NAS*).

 

They prayed, and no one was left out, either. The Book of Acts is the record of Godʼs mighty Acts through the Apostles. Their lives made a life-changing impression on the people who knew them then. The effects of their prayer meeting reverberate still today.

 ~Dear God, thank you for the story from the Book of Acts. You can do amazing things with regular people like us when we devote ourselves to finding Your direction and wisdom and strength. Teach~ us how to pray. Teach us how to pray together in unity. Amen.~

Question~What impressions or memories do you have when you hear the words: “prayer meeting”?

Prayer Meeting: Information versus Transformation?


A few years ago, the leaders of the popular and super influential mega church called Willow Creek  announced that they made a mistake about their assumptions regarding what influences Christian maturity.

Thatʼs the business of the Church, right? To help people grow spiritually. How does the Church help and what potentially  hindering activity does it need to stop doing ?

As soon as the first installment of Willow’s first installment of their ground-breaking Reveal research came out in print, I had to have a copy. I was impressed with Willowʼs transparency, and the layout of their findings.

Here is the main lesson I received from reading Reveal: Like most churches,we put a lot of work into our weekend services. It is the most visible church activity, and seemingly the most influential since it reaches a diverse and highest number of people at one time. The survey showed that weekend services may help new Christians grow, but for the majority of most believers,not so much.1

Believers regardless of their level of spiritual maturity expressed what they needed from their church2:

  1. Help me understand the Bible in depth
  2. Help me in my time of emotional need
  3. Help me to develop relationships that encourage accountability

When I read this a couple years ago, I thought  that we were on the right track with our growing midweek prayer meeting. We are not perfect even now, but the goal of the prayer meeting has been to serve as a avenue for discipleship and  as the next step that would  fuel our deeper relationship with God.3

Doctrinal teaching matters and sharing ideas matters.  At the same time, I am reminded that when Jesus rolled the scroll back up after the morning reading from the Book of Isaiah -He told His congregation how they were going to see,feel,taste the Word of God alive from then on:

And He began to say to them, ʻToday this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. -Luke 4:21

After this declaration of His life’s Mission, Jesus preached to the people, and he opened their eyes to the reality of His Message. What if  our prayer meetings became Houses of Prayer. Places where people could experience God through the power of prayer and community? What if their eyes were opened to the reality of the Word made flesh?

What if while information mattered, so did transformation?

Dear God, we donʼt want to settle for the idea of You. We want more of You. The more  of You we experience, the more alive we will be. Please revive us for your namesake.  Start with me.  Amen~

Question: Are your part of a prayer group? Does it strike a good balance between practice and theory?