Oh No! Not another blurb on prayer! Not exactly. We know how to pray as Jesus taught us (Matt. 6: 9 – 15). We have many examples of prayer from the church in Acts and from the apostle Paul in the epistles. We know that the Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matt. 6: 8). But the question is: Why is the “prayer meeting” so poorly attended?
No single answer to this question will do. But I do ask – Why does the church have to meet on Wednesday/midweek to pray? We can see the positives. We share concerns together and our burden is lightened by the prayer of another for that concern. We are encouraged from the Word of God. We fellowship with one another after the formal meeting ends. These advantages, however, are lost on the larger number of saints who are there on Sunday but not on Wednesday (or whatever night your assembly has it).
Meeting on a mid-week night is simply a tradition. It is not “biblical”. It can be, and perhaps should be, changed.
Focus on the objective. It is not to goad people to appear on a prayer meeting night but to encourage a vital relationship with the living God Who gave His only begotten Son to death on the cross. Growing this relationship is what we want to accomplish in the church. Prayer that is a conversation with our God is “praying without ceasing”.
How can the church give life and appeal to an intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus and the Father? Certainly through the teaching of the Word of God, memorization programs, ministry through music, and prayer in a small group setting. The surprising result is that persons who would never pray “publicly” will open up their hearts in a living room setting. A bible study group that met in homes some years ago saw this result. We all had closer fellowship as we learned to pray together.
We, as believers in the New Testament pattern, have the freedom within the Acts 2:42 guide to adapt our coming together to fit the needs of the Christians and families. Small groups could meet (at least to start with) in elders homes at days and times best for them. Children could be encouraged to pray and be engaged rather than play video games. Through technology, prayer requests can be shared across private groups as appropriate. Male and female may separate at times to pray for concerns that cannot be shared openly even in a small group. Marriage problems, for example, are never mentioned in the standard meeting, yet are of the most importance to the health of the church.
This is an appeal to all saints and church leaders to consider the traditions and consider the desire of the heart of our Savior.