Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total… Yet many of our church prayer meetings have dwindled in size and influence. Ultimately, the explanation can be traced to spiritual warfare. If, as the hymn writer says, Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees,” then we may be sure that he and his minions will be working hard to discredit the value of united prayer. The Evil One has scored a great victory in getting sincere believers to waver in their conviction that prayer is necessary and powerful.
All revival begins, and continues, in the prayer meeting. Some have also called prayer the “great fruit of revival.” In times of revival, thousands may be found on their knees for hours, lifting up their heartfelt cries, with thanksgiving, to heaven.
The church is not a democracy in which we have chosen God, but a theocracy in which He has chosen us. The church is the only society in the world that never loses any of its members, even by death. The church upon its knees would bring heaven upon the earth.
What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use, men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.
Brothers and sisters, I really feel that I’ve heard from God about the future of our church. While I was away, I was calling out to God to help us – to help me – understand what He wants most from us. And I believe I’ve heard an answer. It’s not fancy or profound or spectacular. But I want to say to you with all the seriousness I can muster: From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens Tuesday night will be the gauge by which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure by which God blesses us… No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer
When thou prayest before others, observe on what thou bestowest thy chief care and zeal, whether in the externals or internals of prayer, that which is exposed to the eye and ear of men, or that which should be prepared for the eye and ear of God; the devout posture of thy body, or the inward devotion of thy soul; the pomp of thy words or the power of thy faith; the agitation of thy bodily spirits in the vehemency of thy voice, or the fervency of thy spirit in heartbreaking affections. These inward workings of the soul in prayer, are the very soul of prayer.
Prayer the genesis of revival. The beginning of a time of revival invariably has been marked by quickening of the ordinary prayer meetings, resulting in new vitality, more participation, more sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and more unction in intercession.
It is said that the weekly prayer meeting is the spiritual barometer for any local church. You can tell with a fair degree of accuracy what the church is like by the demeanour or substance of the weekly prayer meeting. Is there genuine evangelistic concern? If so it will be expressed in the prayers. Is there a heartfelt longing for the conversion of unconverted family members If so that is sure to surface. Is there a world vision and a fervent desire for revival and the glory of our Redeemer among the nations of the world? Such a burden cannot be suppressed. Is there a heart agony about famine and war and the need for the gospel of peace among the suffering multitudes of mankind? The church prayer meeting will answer that question. Intercession in the prayer meeting will soon reveal a loving church that cares for those who are oppressed and weighed down with trials and burdens. Those bearing trials too painful or personal to be described in public will nevertheless find comfort in the prayer meeting, for there the Holy Spirit is especially at work
The prayer meeting furnishes a very accurate discriminating test of character. The live Christian loves its enjoyments; the spiritually dead have no delights there.
Every converted sinner is a soul revived to prayer. Every saint restored from backsliding is a soul returned to the life and power of prayer. Every congregation enjoying an outpouring of the Spirit is a congregation revived and alive to the prayer meeting.
The prayer meeting answers to this demand of the spiritual brotherhood, with more exclusiveness and direct fitness than any other ordinance of religious worship… There is a power in conferring and covenanting, on the part of kindred spirits, to come before God, and plead together some special promise… The prayer meeting is a divine ordinance, founded in man’s social nature… The prayer meeting is a special means of developing and cultivating Christian graces, and of promoting individual and social edification.
As prayer meetings fail in a congregation, so will the ministrations of the pastor become unfruitful, the preaching of the word fail to convert sinners and promote holiness in the professors of religion… History confirms the truth that wherever evangelical and vital religion flourish, there lives the earnest gatherings for social prayer.
The prayer meeting is the pulse of the church… The prayer meeting is the rallying point where the power of faith in the church concentrates, and takes hold on the arm that moves the world… The spirit of prayer, and the love and practice of the prayer meeting, will so give organic strength to the church as to make her terrible as an army with banners.
Christians possess a special power and corporate identity when formally assembled. Paul writes of when the Corinthians church is “assembled…and the power of our Lord Jesus is present” (1 Cor. 5:4). Later in the letter he refers to when they “come together as a church” (1 Cor. 11:18), as if they are somehow more “a church” when together than apart.
I have known men…who have been utterly, entirely orthodox, but the churches to which they belonged not only did not have prayer meetings, but they did not believe in prayer meetings. You could not wish for anything better from the standpoint of orthodoxy, but they do not believe in prayer meetings. Prayer has very little place in their lives. Now while they may be orthodox, I take leave to suggest that they are not truly evangelical. This element of prayer is essential to the evangelical; it is his life; it is vital to him.
A man who prays much in private will make short prayers in public.
Public prayer will never make up for closet communion.
George Muller The Autobiography of George Muller, 1984, p. 47-48. All quotations taken from books published by Whitaker House are used with permission of the publisher. Whitaker House books are available at Christian bookstores everywhere. Get this book!
After my return to London, I decided to do something to help my brothers in the seminary. I suggested we meet together every morning from six until eight to pray and read the Scriptures. After the evening prayer, my communion with God was so sweet that I would continue praying until after midnight. Then I would go to a brother’s room, and we would pray together until one or two in the morning. Even then, I was sometimes so full of joy that I could not sleep. At six in the morning, I would again call the brethren together for prayer.
Our prayer meetings have been a blessing to us and united us more than ever in the work.
No amount of good talking can make a good prayer-meeting. The impression prevails in some quarters that little homilies, pious exhortations, interesting anecdotes with a religious bearing, and well-selected quotations from popular religious writers are of equal value with prayer in a prayer-meeting. This cannot be true. In the former case we are talking among ourselves. It may be very edifying and helpful; but in the latter instance we are doing business directly with God. An ounce of believing prayer is worth a ton of edifying talk, if the Scriptures are good authority. To be sure, no prayer-meeting leader should object to a personal testimony, or to any contribution calculated to edify, but at the same time there is great need, in the average prayer-meeting, of developing the volume of prayer (J.F, Cowan).
Here in His holy House of Prayer we may come on our day of rest, and be safe, if we will, from any thoughts but those of the world to come. Here we gather together for no earthly business, but for a purpose of one sort only; and that purpose is the same for which saints and angels are met together in that innumerable company before the throne of God. If there is a place on earth which, however faintly and dimly, shadows out the courts of God on high, surely it is where His people are met together, in all their weakness and ignorance and sin, in their poor and low estate, yet with humble and faithful hearts, in His House of Prayer (Richard Church).
From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three. And no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined. It is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been glorified.
There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.
The reason for praying is so that God will be thanked when the blessings come. And God loves to be thanked. He loves to be acknowledged and praised as the giver of all good gifts. His great goal in history from beginning to end is to be glorified as the source of all blessing. Therefore, when we urge many people to pray for something that we need, we create a situation in which the provision of that need will produce many thanksgivings to God. And in that way we tap into a tremendous incentive that God has, namely, to glorify Himself by winning the gratitude of many people. God loves to be thanked by many people. Therefore, there is a power in church-wide prayer, because the more people there are praying for the spiritual life of our church, the more thanksgiving will ascend to God when He gives it.
Christians who neglect corporate prayer are like soldiers who leave their front-line comrades in the lurch.
The true church lives and moves and has its being in prayer.
The true man of God is heartsick, grieved at the worldliness of the Church…grieved at the toleration of sin in the Church, grieved at the prayerlessness in the Church. He is disturbed that the corporate prayer of the Church no longer pulls down the strongholds of the devil.
This much is sure in all churches, forgetting party labels; the smallest meeting numerically is the prayer-meeting. If weak in prayer we are weak everywhere.
Let the fires go out in the boiler room of the church and the place will still look smart and clean, but it will be cold. The Prayer Room is the boiler room for its spiritual life.
The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. But Scripture (Ac. 2:1-2; 4:24, 31; 12:5; 13:1-4) and experience combine to teach that the united prayers of many righteous accomplish still more.
Prayer Meeting Effectiveness – Part 1 (#1-5): 1. Show Up! It goes without saying that we need people in order to make a group prayer meeting effective. The more that come out to pray, the more prayer we can offer to the Lord. The more that come out to pray, the more others will be inspired to make the same bold commitment to corporate prayer as well. Yet it also goes without saying that coming out can oftentimes be a challenge. Usually by 5:00 on Wednesday nights, we’ve conceived every excuse under the sun to justify our absence. Any personal application there? Think of it this way. If corporate prayer is one of our most effective weapons for spiritual success, don’t you think Satan and your flesh will do everything within their power to keep you away? Don’t give in! Discipline yourself to attend. If your feelings are not right, attend and pray that the Lord changes your heart. Erroll Hulse once said, “It is customary to mark engagements in our diary. If meeting the King with our fellow believers is important it will surely be reserved in our diary. Invitations to dinner or to recreational events will have to be fitted in elsewhere. Jesus says that we have not because we fail to ask (James 4:2). Is the audience with our Monarch esteemed by you as a priority? Does your diary reflect that fact?” Show up! There is strength in numbers! 2. Come Prepared! Arguably, our prayer meeting is the most important gathering of the church. Yet because we meet at the same time each week it is possible to fall into a mindless routine that just goes through the motions. Because we meet late in the evenings it is possible to come with minds clouded and numbed from the day’s activities. As a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a prayer meeting is only as effective as its weakest member. Be prepared to make your contribution by being sure to have prepared yourself spiritually before you arrive. For example, ask God to remind you of the awesome privilege you have to come into His holy presence with your requests. Ask God to put specific prayer requests on your heart. Ask God for a delight in His name so that He may grant you the desires of your heart (Psm. 37:4). Ask God to give you a love for Him and others. As the great evangelist, D.L. Moody, said over a hundred years ago, “The members should come to the meeting in the spirit of prayer. It ought to be on their hearts from week to week.” 3. Be Genuine! Many do not attend the prayer meeting simply because they are embarrassed to pray in the presence of others. That’s not good! Others go in the opposite direction and attend for the purpose of attempting to impress others with their prayers. That’s even worse! I’m sure we’ve all witnessed those who all of a sudden change their accent (perhaps a little Scottish flair) or pray in “King James Version” or use big theological words that they barely understand themselves or employ many words all for the sake of appearance. God is not impressed! Our Lord condemned this spirit (Mt. 6:5, 7). God looks not at the outward appearance, but the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). The heart that honors Him is the heart that seeks to gain His attention. All Christians can achieve this! Humble, childlike faith is esteemed in the ears of the Lord and should likewise be esteemed in the ears of His children who are present. 4. Pray Specifically! Effective prayer is specific prayer. Oftentimes we do not have because we do not ask (Jas. 4:2). For example, it’s easy to ask the Lord to bless our missionaries, but specifically how do we wish for them to be blessed? Is it God’s will to heal every sick person? Of course we pray for their relief, but what about their witness to the caregivers both in words and behavior, the sufficient grace to be upheld spiritually, the spiritual growth as a result of their trial and their understanding of God’s love and faithfulness despite the misery? Are you praying for people in particular? Use their names (see Romans 16)! Avoid the vague generalities and hone in on the particular circumstances with a creative, thoughtful and deliberate Spirit-led precision. 5. Don’t Pray About Everything! In large prayer meetings it’s customary to be broken down into a number of small groups. Commonly the leader assigned will then review the prayer agenda and/or take specific prayer requests from the people assembled. The needs are noted and internalized by those present, but then too often the first person to speak prays for everything before the next person even has an opportunity to open his or her mouth! Not only is domination like this in the prayer meeting selfish; it is also potentially frustrating for the others that are gathered. Effective groups will witness each person taking a topic or two until all the given topics have been covered. This not only guarantees the participation of everybody, but also enhances the mental and spiritual engagement of each participant to be sure that all the issues are prayed over before the group concludes their time together.
Prayer Meeting Effectiveness – Part 2 (#6-10): 6. Pray for the Needs of Others! One mistake commonly committed by well-intended saints is the tendency to pray for their own personal needs. By all means there is a place for this in the private prayer closet, but in the corporate gathering we should be “other” focused. The beauty of the Christian life is the heart attitude that manifests itself in selflessness. As Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4, “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Instead of praying for your own needs, pray for the needs of others and others in turn should pray for your needs. Few things can appear more disheartening than to hear someone in a public prayer meeting only address his or her personal concerns (unless they are confessing their own sin!). Also, it is worth noting that (generally speaking) the words “I” or “my” should be banned from the gathering. Frequently your needs are also the needs of others. Get in the habit of expressing your prayers with the plural pronouns of “we” and “us.” 7. Pray for the Local Church! We’ve all experienced this one – the corporate prayer meeting where everyone is addressing personal concerns and peripheral situations. You know, “Aunt Erma’s sinus congestion” and “Billy’s peewee soccer tryouts” and “the Johnson’s family vacation.” Again, there’s a place for this in individual and family prayers (and I’m not saying these things should never be said corporately), it’s only that more pressings issues affecting the spiritual wellbeing of the church need to be prioritized. Deeply consider where the Lord wants His local church and then pray accordingly! Here are some examples: Spiritual growth of the flock, more conversions, passion for evangelism and prayer and Bible Study, wisdom, more servants and power for those presently serving, purity, commitment to the local church, our church leaders, our church ministries and upcoming events, our church missionaries, our marriages, our testimonies, our doctrine, those presently backsliding, those dealing with major trials, godly fellowship, the power of the Word proclaimed, doctrinal fidelity, spiritual and physical protection of the church and personal delight in the Lord. And once we pray for the local church, let’s then branch out to the needs of the universal church. Pray for persecuted Christians, local churches and missionaries all over the world, the progress of the gospel, the government and the end of abortion. 8. Call in Prayer Requests When Possible! As you are aware, we produce the VINE each Wednesday. Not only is it emailed to the church, but hard copies are also provided at the time of our corporate gathering. The VINE contains church families and ministries and missionaries to focus on each week. It lists all the upcoming events and has a place for the significant personal praises and petitions of the church. If you would like to have something prayed over on Wednesday evenings, please call or e-mail your personal requests in advance. Of course there will be exceptions in emergency-type situations, but the more we can guard our prayer meeting from long announcements, the more time we will have to devote to prayer itself in the prayer meeting. 9. Pray Earnestly! Always true, but especially pertinent for the prayer meeting. It’s easy to have our minds wandering off when others are praying. Oftentimes it’s because we’re tired and distracted after a long day or we’re just trying to think of what we are going to say when it becomes our turn to pray. Make every attempt to discipline yourself to stay focused! Keep alert (Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2)! Our prayer meeting is most effective when everybody is praying – either audibly themselves or silently as they are led by another in their group. And when we speak, may our prayers be Spirit-led, strategic and passionate. Earnestness (Col. 4:12; 1 Thes. 3:10; Jas. 5:17)! As C.H. Spurgeon once said, “Oh, for warm hearts, burning with red hot desires which make a channel from the lips with glowing words; then indeed, this complaint would never be made – ‘What is the use in my going to the prayer meeting, when I know all that will be said if So-and-so is called on?’” 10. Keep the Prayers Going! A few seconds of silence after each prayer is good for the purpose of reflection, the Spirit’s prompting and the orderly submission of new prayers. However, in a desire to maximize our time, keep our minds engaged and demonstrate our eagerness to God, prayers should be in “rapid succession.” Give others with you the opportunity to participate, but if others fail to pray, pray again to avoid prolonged periods of silence. Let’s remember this is a corporate prayer meeting. Come prepared to participate corporately!
Prayer Meeting Effectiveness – Part 3 (#11-15): 11. Avoid Preaching in Your Prayers! More than anything, corporate prayer is a time to bring our requests before the throne of God. Yet I’m sure too many of us have sat through group prayers where there’s a lot of talking, but at the same time very little actual prayer being accomplished. Neither God nor others in the group are overly interested or impressed by the deep theology, related circumstances, lengthy explanations or personal soliloquy behind the requests. Use our time wisely! Please focus on the specific praise or petition! Avoid “many words” (Mt. 6:7)! Use strength, not length! 12. Speak Up! Corporate prayer serves no purposes if the others assembled are unable hear and pray in agreement. Of course we need to be considerate of other prayer groups in close proximity that are sharing the same facility, but understand the balance between not overpowering them and praying loud enough for those in your assembled group to receive and understand your request. One element of the prayer meeting that tends to further this problem is the respectable reality that we pray with our heads down. Therefore a good idea is to raise your head when you pray to better project your voice and then resume a bowed position when you finish. Also be sure to speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Give even those even with hearing impairments the benefit and ability to pray in accordance with you. 13. Praise and Thank God for Answered Prayer! It’s easy to minimize or omit this aspect in corporate prayer meetings (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2). Not only is this a key component in prayer, but it is also an encouragement to see how God is responding in our midst giving us greater confidence and faith for future prayer. Furthermore, we must remember that all things terminate not on a change in circumstance, but on God receiving the glory whether He chooses to change the circumstances or not. Keep God in focus from beginning to end! 14. Pray for the Glory of God! In our primary desire to see God glorified, chalk your prayers full with biblical substance. If we are to pray according to His will, let’s ground our prayers in the stories and statements from His Book, the Bible. Our prayers may include, but must not be limited to the temporary needs of personal comfort (physical healing, superficial trials, etc.). Actually this should only be a small portion of the meeting. Rather we must learn to pray for personal godliness (1 Tim. 4:7), faith in trials (Jas. 1:2), world evangelization (Mt. 28:18-20), exemplary testimonies (Phil. 2:14-16), ongoing joy (Phil. 4:4) self-denial (Mk. 8:34), spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), idol awareness (1 Thes. 1:9), bold gospel articulation (Eph. 6:20), willingness to suffer with Christ (Rom. 8:17), prioritizing love (1 Cor. 13:1-3), thanksgiving in everything (1 Thes. 5:18), personal ministry (Rom. 12:6), sacrificial giving (Mt. 6:19-21), power for the preached Word (2 Thes. 3:1), submission where necessary (Eph. 5:21), biblical worldviews (1 Jn. 2:15-17), filling of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), repentance (Lk. 13:3), church unity (Eph. 4:3), spiritual wisdom (Col. 1:9), reconciled relationships (Phil. 4:2), perseverance for the saints (Eph. 6:18), spiritual growth (Col. 1:9), doctrinal purity (Tit. 2:7), qualified leadership (1 Thes. 5:12), good works (Mt. 5:16), commitment to the Word (Jos. 1:8) and prayer (1 Thes. 5:17) just to name a few. 15. Keep Your Prayer Short! Possibly few things can suck the life out of a corporate prayer meeting more than long prayers. Long prayers give others in the group the temptation to drift off. Listen to what G. Chewter said, “This is an old, old problem. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. Long prayers often become a weariness to the flesh, making it hard for those listening to spiritually participate and keep up concentration, especially if it is an evening meeting.” Long prayers also exasperate others wanting to pray and discourage others from thinking they should participate. Keep people engaged. Give others the opportunity to pray. Christ’s prayers in public were short. His model prayer was one of brevity (Mt. 6:9-13). Most prayers recorded in the Bible are also brief and to the point. Can anybody put it more bluntly than C.H. Spurgeon? “It is necessary to draw near to God, but it is not required of you to prolong your speech till everyone is longing to hear the word ‘Amen.’”
Go home and say to your minister, “Sir, we must have more prayer.” Urge the people to more prayer. Have a prayer meeting, even if you have it all to yourself; and if you are asked how many were present, you can say “Four.” “Four! how so?” “Why, there was myself, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and we have had a rich and real communion together.” We must have an outpouring of real devotion or else what is to become of many of our churches.
What a company we have here tonight! It fills my heart with gladness, and my eyes with tears of joy, to see so many hundreds of persons gathered together at what is sometimes wickedly described as “only a prayer meeting.” It is good for us to draw night unto God in prayer, and specially good to make up a great congregation for such a purpose. We have attended little prayer meetings of four or five, and we have been glad to be there, for we had the promise of our Lord’s presence; but our minds are grieved to see so little attention given to united prayer by many of our churches. We have longed to see great numbers of God’s people coming up to pray, and we now enjoy this sight. Let us praise God that it is so. How could we expect a blessing if we were too idle to ask for it? How could we look for a Pentecost if we never met with one accord, in one place, to wait upon the Lord? Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.
If a church is to be what it ought to be for the purposes of God, we must train it in the holy art of prayer. Churches without prayer-meetings are grievously common. Even if there were only one such, it would be one to weep over. In many churches the prayer-meeting is only the skeleton of a gathering: the form is kept up, but the people do not come. There is no interest, no power, in connection with the meeting. Oh, my brothers, let it not be so with you! Do train the people to continually meet together for prayer. Rouse them to incessant supplication. There is a holy art in it. Study to show yourselves approved by the prayerfulness of your people. If you pray yourself, you will want them to pray with you; and when they begin to pray with you, and for you, and for the work of the Lord, they will want more prayer themselves, and the appetite will grow. Believe me, if a church does not pray, it is dead. Instead of putting united prayer last, put it first. Everything will hinge upon the power of prayer in the church.
Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.
The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be slothfulness in prayer.
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.
Oh! yes, [the prayer meeting] is the place to meet with the Holy Ghost, and this is the way to get His mighty power. If we would have Him, we must meet in greater numbers; we must pray with greater fervency, we must watch with greater earnestness, and believe with firmer steadfastness. The prayer meeting…is the appointed place for the reception of power.
Why, see what accumulated force there is in prayer, when one after another pours out his vehement desires; when many seem to be tugging at the rope; when many seem to be knocking mercy’s gate; when the mighty cries of many burning hearts come up to heaven. When, my beloved, you go and shake the very gates thereof with the powerful battering-ram of a holy vehemence, and sacred importunity, then is it that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence. When first one, and then another, and yet another, throws his whole soul into the prayer, the kingdom of heaven is conquered and the victory becomes great indeed.
I fear that much of our prayer is lost because we do not sufficiently throw our hearts into it. It is possible for us to attend the meeting and all the while be thinking of the home, the infant in the cradle, or the shop, the field, the farm, the factory, the counting-house, the and I know not what beside. Is it any wonder then that prayer halts? The brother who prays may be burning with earnest desire, but his prayer lags because we are not backing it with silent Devour and passionate longing for God’s blessing. Oh! Brethren and sisters, we have often spoiled our prayer meetings thus.
[Prayer] is very hard work, why else is the prayer meeting the worst attended meeting in any church? For that is where the battle is.
We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services, but few conversions; much machinery, but few results.
The neglected heart will soon be a heart overrun with worldly thoughts; the neglected life will soon become a moral chaos; the church that is not jealously protected by mighty intercession and sacrificial labors will before long become the abode of every evil bird and the hiding place for unsuspected corruption. The creeping wilderness will soon take over that church that trusts in its own strength and forgets to watch and pray.
You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting.
Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.
Very many of our churches not only have no prayer-meeting, but sometimes unblushingly condemn such meetings, and even ridicule them… And what of those churches where the old-fashioned weekly prayer-meeting is retained? Would not “weakly” be the more appropriate word?
We feel sure that the weakness in the spiritual life of many churches is to be traced to an inefficient prayer-meeting, or the absence of meetings for prayer. Daily matins and evensong, even when reverent and without the unseemly haste which is so often associated with them, cannot take the place of less formal gatherings for prayer, in which everyone may take part. Can we not make the weekly prayer-meeting a live thing and a living force?
Even though we may not take part audibly in the action, yet if we are there in a right spirit – there really to wait upon God, we marvelously help the tone of a meeting.
Prayer meetings were the arteries of the early church. Through them, life-sustaining power was derived.
The simple fact is, we are too vague and, as a consequence, too indifferent in our prayers and prayer meetings. We do not seem like people asking for what they want, and waiting for what they ask. This is what destroys our prayer meetings, rendering them pithless, pointless, powerless; turning them into teaching or talking meetings, rather than deep-toned, earnest prayer meetings.