“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Why do we, the church, struggle so much with prayer meetings? We all know that prayer is important. We say we pray for people. I think we even want to pray for people more than we do. Yet when it comes down to it, all too often our prayer meetings have a very small attendance.
It’s a struggle for pastors and church leaders to plan and sustain a regularly scheduled prayer meeting that is well attended. In some cases, we become so discouraged by the lack of interest and attendance from our congregations that we just stop trying.
At other times, we can allow it to slip into a “back burner” position, allowing our attention to be focused on ministries that are pressing harder for our attention – Sunday School, youth group, men’s and/or women’s Bible studies, evangelistic outreaches, Sunday morning services (both preaching and worship), and so many more! Yet when we allow that to happen, we forget just how integral prayer is to every ministry of our church. In his book Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church, John Onwuchekwa says, “A church’s commitment to prayer is one of the greatest determiners of its effectiveness in ministry” (p. 23).
When we let slip the practice of meeting together to pray, we are handicapping every ministry in our church. Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us how important it is to meet together in order to stir up one another to love and good works, saying that we are to be encouraging one another. We usually quote these verses when we are citing the importance of church attendance, but how often do we consider their relevance to the practice of prayer as a church body?
In the early church (see the book of Acts), meeting together as the church is consistently marked with prayer. They were always praying! And God was moving in mighty ways through the church. In his message Only a Prayer Meeting, C. H. Spurgeon said, “How could we expect a blessing if we were too idle to ask for it? How could we look for a Pentecost if we never met with one accord, in one place, to wait upon the Lord? Brethren, 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.”
So what are we to do? Meeting together in prayer as a church body is clearly vital for our growth as believers and as the Church. But how can we be faithful in this practice when it feels that so few see the need?
We must continue being faithful with what we have. Establish a rhythm that works for you and be consistent. Remain faithful no matter how many people come. Don’t neglect meeting together!
My husband and I have seen quite the roller coaster of response to prayer meetings. We have seen a large group dwindle to a few, grow to a larger number again, then dwindle again. There have been many times when the prayer meeting is just us and only 2-3 other people. There have even been times when it was just the two of us. During these times, I sometimes grow frustrated because I want to “fix it,” to help others see how important the ministry of praying together truly is and to get EVERYONE to come!
But that’s when I remember that the most important thing to do is: pray. I must continue faithfully praying for our church, and that includes praying for our church to become stronger in the practice of praying together.
Even in the times when I am frustrated or discouraged by how small our group is, I still come away encouraged by the ministry of praying together with my church family. The fact is, I am most encouraged, most “stirred up” for love and good works when I pray with others, and when I get to hear others pray for our church.
There is something so sweet and so intimate about praying with other believers, that we can’t resist the encouragement! All through the New Testament, we are commanded to pursue unity in the body, to preserve the peace of the Holy Spirit. This happens by praying with and for each other! When we gather together before the Lord, we humble ourselves together. When we humble ourselves together, we are brought together in unity – unified in our need for Christ to lead us. THAT is true unity of the Spirit. This is truly meeting together, encouraging one another, and stirring one another up for love and good works. When we have met together in prayer, then we can go forward to minister in love toward others.
Father, help us to lead our churches in the ministry of praying together. Strengthen and encourage us at times when we feel discouraged by little involvement to continue being faithful in what You have called us to do. We humbly ask that You will bring Your church together in prayer in greater numbers every day.
.................. **Due to the personal nature of some of the blog posts, and our desire to share freely with you, the blog portion of our website is limited to pastors’ wives who have registered with us. If you are an existing user, please log in. New users may register below. Before signing up below, go to your email account and add “email@example.com” to your contacts. This way, our emails containing registration info are less likely to go to your spam folder. Fill out the form below and submit. Check your email account for an email from us! Once we approve your registration, you will receive an email with your username and password. You will then be able to access the blog posts.**