Friday, February 13, 2009

Prayer meetings

I was listening to a sermon at work, and the person quoted A.W Tozer saying this in regard to church attendance;
Sunday Morning will show you how popular a CHURCH is
Sunday Night will show you how popular the PREACHER is
Wednesday (prayer meeting) will show you how popular GOD is

Isn't this so true, you can tell a lot about a church from it's prayer meetings. I personally would be ecstatic about hundreds and thousands coming to a service, yet when it's time to pray there are only a few.
It was Spurgeon who attributed his success to the prayers of the people. I found this piece which illustrates this:
When visitors would come to Spurgeon's church he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. Then Spurgeon would declare, "Here is the powerhouse of this church."Spurgeon in his autobiography described his gratefulness for being blessed with such a praying church. "I always give all the glory to God, but I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the first to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession." Spurgeon regarded the prayer-meeting as the spiritual thermometer of a church. His church's Monday night prayer meeting had a worldwide testimony for many years. Every Monday night a large portion of Spurgeon's sanctuary was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors."In Spurgeon's eyes the prayer-meeting was the most important meeting of the week." It is here many of us find ourselves in conflict with dear Mr. Spurgeon. We love our meetings for preaching and praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of Spurgeon's greatest concerns was that his people learn to truly pray. "He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his example than by any preaching. People heard him pray with such reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of words." Throughout his entire ministry many hearers remarked that they were moved by his preaching, but yet still more affected by his praying. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being asked upon his return to America, "Did you hear Spurgeon preach?" He replied, "Yes, but better still I heard him pray."

If you're wondering what he prayed you won't find much because he disliked recorded prayers (me too). Have you ever been to a church like that? Have you ever been to a prayer meeting that was distinguished by it's 'earnest and fervent intercessors'. I without hesitation believe there is too much talk about 'prayer- warriors' today as a 'type' of person. Where exactly is that found, which gift is that? Above that i have a problem with 'recognized' prayer warriors within a church, how exactly did that person become known for that? Did they broadcast it?
Even more troublesome is the idea that prayer is a woman's thing, NO NO NO, Men you are to LEAD in this area as well, and Shepherds EVEN MORE!!!
I've been at places where i had to force myself to come to the prayer meeting and leaving thinking 'we didn't even pray'. Paul Washer addresses this here:

Not sure if it's the same as 'worthless prayer meetings'. Brother Paul says at one point that he doesn't blame some people for not wanting to go, and that because they've never been to a 'real' prayer meeting. I like BEST his rule at his Church in Peru; that no one could request something that they have not prayed about. Also that requests should come through the prayers of the people. I totally agree, it's certainly more natural to meet together with people and just pray what is pressing upon your heart, and then others can agree.
Too often prayer meetings are nothing more than sick lists; IMAGINE a CHURCH and the majority of prayer if not ALL is spent addressing physical health needs?????!!!!!
What of the LOST family members, what of the Glory of God, What of the church services, the blessing of godly leadership, what of the need for godly men, women, and homes???
Why don't more Christians pray together? We waste so much time and never get to heart of things, don't talk about the need for a CHURCH and the importance of BODY LIFE if you only mean we should hang out watching football, chatting online, and doing events together- that's NOT the intent of fellowship (I'm not saying we can't do those things, but they aren't what's FIRST nor are they needed). I was absolutely shocked when i suggested to a brother, a associate pastor that we should meet for prayer (we meet about once a week), and he replied that, that was the first time someone EVER suggested that. HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!! I can look back over the past and can recall those relationships that were built upon prayer, and i can distinctly recall the fruit from it. I can recall the freedom in rebuking one another in love, in rejoicing together and in weeping together; Prayer is the heart of FELLOWSHIP!
Let us pray together brothers and sisters, if anything suggest it more often.
I'm not one for Prayer-peeves, get over it, as long as it's not FAKE, it's not someone trying to IMPRESS everyone, be VERY SLOW to condemn a child of God's prayers unless it's clearly NOT prayer.
Prayer like NOTHING else REVEALS what we truly value, what we truly think is important. I do wish you were convinced that we need a revival, that we need a reformation in the churches of America, we need the GOSPEL to be seen CLEARLY. Test the bulk of any persons prayers and it will reveal whether they are truly heavenly minded or spiritually minded.
Prayer should be emphasized in a church, i could go so far as to say ALL leadership should be required to be at prayer meetings (unless justifiably absent). Prayer meetings should also include ALL ages of believers (don't tell me 6yr old Johnny is saved but he can't be in a prayer meeting), it should be the best of times, not a burden.
Let us pray church.


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