House of Prayer

The third reason I attend church (or church activities, like home groups) is for prayer. Now in practice, I pray very little at church these days, especially compared to prayer on my own. The role of prayer in church has diminished in recent times.

It’s not that church leaders haven’t tried. Someone starts a prayer meeting, attended by a few dedicated souls at first, then it gradually diminishes and ends. The reason this happens is that these meetings are too organized, conducted for intercession and supplication, where one person prays and everyone agrees together. Christians are actually quite good at this type of prayer, as they are at praying for healing where there is faith to do so. These types of prayer are effective and are good reasons in themselves to attend church activities.

What’s neglected in modern church life is a designated time for people to simply show up and pray on their own, but together in the same place. Jesus described the temple as a house of prayer – a place to go to pray.

In my youth, my family attended a church that had such a prayer time before the Sunday evening service. We would just show up and pray, each of us on our own. Sometimes people would pair up and pray for each other, sometimes in larger groups, then go back to praying on their own again. Some were quiet, some were louder. The central personality in this activity was God himself, and anyone who walked in on the meeting sensed that.

I miss that type of prayer. Part of the energy behind it was expectation for what God was going to do in the evening service, and a lot of the prayers I overheard were a request for just that. Sunday evening was attended by those who really wanted to meet God (the others having “done their time” Sunday morning), and the power of God was on display in these services in miracles and prophecy.

I don’t think you can program a good prayer meeting. God is ready to move at all times, but his people aren’t. The desire for prayer arises in individuals in response to God’s summons, and when such individuals do get together, things begin to happen. Seasons like those are very special and should be seized upon when they come.

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One Response to “House of Prayer”

  1. I grew up in a similar church. Wed. night prayer meeting was just people spread out in the sanctuary, around the alter praying out loud or softly. My dad would have me and my brother next to him. It’s how we learned to pray.

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