I have been going to Wednesday night prayer meeting my whole life. I’m thankful to my parents for instilling in me a lifelong pattern of church attendance. Now that I’m a pastor, it’s my job to go to church, but even if I were not a pastor, I’d still go to the prayer meeting because the Lord has taught me how important it is.
The public prayer meeting is a means of grace or the ordinary means that God has ordained to minister grace to His people. Obviously, God can give grace to His people however He sees fit, but the Scriptures teach us that the preaching of the Word, prayer, the ordinances of the church, and the fellowship of the Lord’s people are the ordinary ways that God communicates His grace. How many times have you come to the prayer meeting exhausted from a day’s work, but been encouraged and revived? I have!
Ever since I came to the Free Church, I learned that the prayer meeting is the most important service of the church calendar and prayer is the power plant of the church. Why do we continue to insist on having prayer meetings, and why is a whole article in our magazine devoted to this topic? We believe that a church can function without electricity, water, and even a building, but a church cannot function without prayer. A church leadership team can do a lot of organizing and make a group of people look like a church on the outside, but without prayer, there will be no blessing or power from God.
The Lord can even use the prayer meeting to save souls. I know of two women who were converted as a result of the public prayer meeting. My wife was saved as a girl after listening to her father earnestly pray for the conversion of his own father. The Lord used that to impress on her heart her need of salvation. The other woman has a similar testimony. I believe these two examples prove the benefit of bringing children to the prayer meeting. You might think it an unnecessary waste of time, but the Lord can do great things in the heart of a child simply sitting under the means of grace.
So what’s the point of the public prayer meeting? Can I not just pray at home? The aim of the church prayer meeting is to agree together to pray for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom on the earth. The Lord taught His disciples, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). To that end you should pray for your pastor. Pray for the Lord’s power on his preparation and preaching. Pray for missionaries. Pray for the salvation of souls. Pray for the church’s outreach ministries. Pray for the sick to be raised up so that they can return to the body of Christ to worship together and collectively seek the glory of God. Pray for yourself that the Lord would help you to pray. While someone else is praying audibly, pray with them. Agree with them in prayer, and add your “amen” to what they are asking. Together, we need to plead with the Lord to pour out His Spirit on the ministry of our local assembly and for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom at large.
Sadly, the prayer meeting is quickly becoming a relic of the past. Many churches have pulled the plug on the whole idea or the attendance is low. When a church’s leadership doesn’t support the prayer meeting, what message does that send to the rest of the congregation? It silently communicates that the corporate prayer meeting is not really important. Of course, they would never admit that, but their actions speak louder than their words. I think a lot of parents inadvertently communicate the same thing to their children. What are you teaching your children by your church attendance? I want my children to know that our family’s attendance at the prayer meeting is important because prayer is important. I hope you do too.
Take a moment to consider how you view your church’s prayer meeting. I hope you will be encouraged to seek the Lord with your brothers and sisters in Christ and have a renewed vigor for the advancement of God’s kingdom and His glory on Earth through the weekly prayer meeting.
Derrick Bowman is associate minister at Winston Salem, FPC, NC