In Acts 4, Peter and John were healing people and preaching in Jerusalem. It quickly garnered the attention of the Jewish priests who had them arrested and detained for a full day.
Peter stood before the council, filled with the Holy Ghost, and preached Jesus Christ. He spoke with boldness and the priests marveled. How could such a common man preach with such power?
However, those priests were faced with a great dilemma. John and Peter had gained no less than 5,000 supporters through their preaching. They also performed miracles which could not be explained.
Their solution was to release John and Peter with strict instructions to never preach the gospel again. Once released John, Peter, and other disciples immediately met together for prayer.
One powerful prayer meeting
They lifted up their voice to God with one accord…
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:24-33)
Should we really expect the same kind of results from our own prayer meetings in the church today? Well, why not?
Many of the greatest experiences had by the church in the Bible and beyond grew out of small and sincere prayer meetings.
Whatever happened to prayer meetings?
Sure, prayer meetings still exist. But they tend to be rare events (only for emergencies) or they become that one meeting held by the church which we avoid like the plague (they’re boring and/or uncomfortable).
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We’re drawn to the corporate worship setting much more than intimate small group fellowship or prayer meetings. We’d rather slip in, sit quietly, and enjoy the service.
Prayer meetings require participation. Several must pray and others must make requests for prayer. Unfortunately, we’re afraid of both.
The reason we don’t like to pray publicly is because we think public prayer must sound eloquent and contain an entire checklist of items before it’s complete. That’s not true at all.
The reason we don’t like to make prayer requests (beyond the typical “pray for the sick” or “pray for our country” requests) is because it takes us outside of our comfort zone.
We should even confess our sinful struggles with one another (James 5:16). When is the last time someone asked the church to pray for that? Furthermore, when has someone actually publicly prayed for that?
By the way, prayer meetings are only boring to those who have forgotten the power of prayer. We shouldn’t dread them. Rather, we should crave them. We should want to join our family in prayer.
A model for prayer meetings
There are no rules for prayer meetings. But how about a suggestion?
During your next prayer meeting, start by singing a couple of hymns. Allow the pastor to read from the Bible and make some brief remarks.
Allow someone to make a personal request for prayer. Something that might be weighing on his/her mind. Allow someone to then pray for that person. Keep the prayer short and specific.
Repeat the request/prayer steps a few times before singing again.
It might be wise to choose a more intimate location than the church’s sanctuary. Remove any trace of it being a spectator-friendly corporate service. Foster an environment where the church can grow closer.
I’d love to hear your prayer meeting experiences. Leave a comment below. What was the format? How has the Lord blessed?