The prayer meeting
When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.
Peter… went to the house of Mary… where many people had gathered and were praying. (Acts 4:24 and 12:11-12, NIV)
It was a deeply encouraging experience to be at our church prayer meeting on Wednesday. I’ve been trying to work out why. Four explanations come to mind:
1. It is a marvellous chance for us to meet others across the church whom we might not normally meet. We’re not divided up by age. Older and younger are together, and we meet across our three congregations. On Wednesday, I noticed we had a section of the meeting praying for our students, immediately followed by prayer for our activities for retired people! So we are experiencing how the Lord Jesus unites different people.
2. We hear news of the Lord’s work across different areas of our church’s life: and this is wonderful! We hear of people and situations being changed by our God, as well as challenges we face. We discover how God works, even in the midst of such challenges and our weakness. I don’t think there’s any other forum where we get this kind of news.
3. The meeting is a corporate expression of real Christian faith. Prayer is a supremely pointless activity if we don’t believe in the reality of the God of the Bible, His promises, His power and the access we have to Him in Christ. But if we do know those things, it makes total sense to come to Him in this way. At the meeting, we are seeing a real expression of people’s faith in the Lord Jesus and… love for all God’s people (Ephesians 1:15).
4. If we’ve been coming to the prayer meeting for any length of time, we may be able to look back and notice how God has answered our prayers from previous meetings. We may have felt, at the time, that our prayers were inadequate, but the passage of time proves that the Lord is not. He is living and active; He invites us to come to Him; He generously hears from heaven; we experience His good hand. Prayer is a great way to prove the goodness and sovereignty of God.
How mightily encouraging this all is! So come, join the crowd and be encouraged. If you’ve not been before, food is served from 7.00pm for those who’d like it, and the meeting begins at 7.50pm. We start with a short reading from the Bible, and then the agenda is ten-minute sections, each starting with news from different areas of our church’s life, as well as news from our mission partners, followed by prayer with the whole gathering split into groups of about six or seven - whoever you are sitting next to. If you don’t feel confident to pray out loud, you can still come and pray silently. We finish around 9.10pm.
Our next church prayer meeting is on Wednesday 10th November.