There are many Christians who never attend their church’s prayer meeting; a church which has hundreds of people on a Sunday may have just ten percent attend the prayer meeting, on a good night. Maybe you’re one of them and maybe you’re expecting a judgemental rant but I'm sorry to disappoint for all I have for you is pity, great pity, for you are losing out on a joy that is scarcely matched.
Humanly speaking, it isn’t much, a group of people meeting together to speak out loud to their God with varying degrees of oratory skill, passion and length. And that’s it. Most prayer meetings go on for an hour and a half, not much longer, barely worth the effort of attending, in human terms.
Spiritually speaking though we’re talking about something far beyond the usual. Prayer meetings are feasts for the soul, they are the heart beat of a local church, they are a refreshing dip into the fountain of all life and love, they are meeting and communing with Christ, they are joy, so much joy. My friends, you know not joy until you have tasted the banquet of a prayer meeting. You know not fellowship until you have banded together with a group of brothers and sisters in prayer. You know not God as he needs to be known unless you have come into his presence in a prayer meeting.
You do not believe me so let me prove it to you.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they [the disciples] were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.”
Acts 2 v 1 – 2
In Acts we have the first recorded instance of a new covenant prayer meeting. It serves as a good lesson in the overflowing joy of prayer meetings that continues to this day. The first joy of meeting with others in prayer is the encouragement that it brings. I speak from personal experience that in my darkest days, when I sat under the silence of God and could find him not I would always see him at my church’s prayer meeting. When I am down and discouraged and disheartened then a prayer meeting never ceases to lift my spirits and soar them heavenwards. When I am lost and hurt and confused then a prayer meeting will carry me back to the arms of my God. If you are weary you will find rest, if you are hurting you will comfort and if you are in anguish you will find peace all at a prayer meeting.
How can this be? What power is this? Why, it is nothing more than the promise of Christ: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18v20). I testify that this promise is always kept. To go to a prayer meeting is to meet with Christ and to meet with Christ is to place your soul under a most radiant light. When I am proud I am humbled, when I am broken I am healed, when I am burdened I find them lifted, when I am scared I find fresh courage, when I am guilty I find forgiveness, when I am discouraged I find encouragement all because I meet with Christ through a prayer meeting.
The sweetest fellowship is that of a fellowship banding together in prayer and as a body meeting with their head, that is Christ. Mere words are barely adequate to convey the joy of meeting with God and finding blessing after blessing there. I find that now especially in the darkness of path my church walks then prayer meetings have become vital, we need to join with Christ for we need his strength to preserve on, and in his tender mercy he has been very close to us of late because he knows our weakness.
The second delight of a prayer meeting is that meeting with brothers and sisters in Christ is that it re-stokes the fires of devotion. To see a fellow brother pray with fire and fervency and faith is to have one’s own fire and fervency and faith increase as a result. Picture it as many little fires gathering together to create a blazing inferno for the glory of God. Listen to the other prayers instead of thinking on your own worries and you will hear prayers that will warm your heart, prayers that will break your heart, prayers that make your heart swell with love and hope and joy. There is a singular joy to banding together and waging spiritual battle via prayer, it uplifts the soul indeed to watch as a solider for Christ plants a banner of faith and makes a stand in prayer.
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”
2 Corinthians 4:16
A prayer meeting is a means God uses to renew our flagging spirits; it is for our benefit that he commands us to prayer to him in fellowship so that Christ might meet with us and minster to our needs. You are too weak not to need this. After a prayer meeting I often cannot help but break into song of praise to God because I am so fired up for him that my heart must express itself in some rousing chorus. If you wonder why I update my blog on a Wednesday evening so regularly then wonder no more!
There is also the joy of learning from the prayers of others. My thoughts turn to the prayers of the minister of my church, who also happens to be my Dad. To hear him pray is to hear the cries of a humble and penitent heart, to listen to his prayers is to listen to a man talking with his Father God as with a dear and treasured friend. Sometimes it is to hear agony of soul expressed in every plea; sometimes it is to hear faith, faith the like of which you could only dream of having, expressed with the boldness of his requests and the strength of his intercession; sometimes it is to hear the thankfulness of a heart abounding with love; always it is to hear humility of a broken man, all too aware of his sin, coming before his God who delights in mercy. If in fifty years time I pray like my Dad then I will have been greatly blessed by God.
I have barely scratched the surface, of what else shall I talk about? Shall I list story after story of prayer meeting after prayer meeting that resulting in revivals, conversions, blessing and events that shook the world? Shall I describe what it is like to sit among believers and pour out your soul to God knowing that you are all in this together and that God is there, with you, with you all? My soul jumps for joy, it bows before God, it throws itself onto God’s mercy, it finds refuge in the storm, it finds peace in trouble, it finds strength in weakness all from a prayer meeting.
Humanly speaking, prayer meetings are so little. Spiritually speaking they are so much. This is always the way of God, to exalt what is humble. Please, my friend, attend your church’s prayer meeting, seek the joys which I have done my best to describe, does your soul not yearn to meet with Christ? Does your heart not burn to commune with God? Join the battle, meet with your fellowship in prayer, band together and go to your prayer meeting.
It will be hard, there will be days when you do not want to go, there will be times when God seems too far away for you to go, there will be times when you think you are hurting too much to go, there will be occasions when all you will want to do is weep or when you search your heart for a prayer and find nothing. Yet through this all you will meet with Christ, you will see the glory of God and you will find your soul moved by the most joyous of sights, that of a group of believers seeking their Father God in prayer.