Tag Archives: prayer

Whatever happened to prayer meetings?

The condition of a church can be accurately determined by its prayer meetings. Charles Spurgeon called the prayer meeting a “grace-ometer” from which “we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people.” More recently, Vance Havner said that “the thermometer of a church is its prayer meeting.”

If this is true, and I believe it is, then what does that say about a church when the prayer meeting is the least attended meetings of the week? Or what does it say about a church that no longer has prayer meetings?

I don’t have the definitive answer as to why prayer meetings have become nearly extinct. I suspect some combination of the following factors are involved:

  • Prayer doesn’t draw a crowd; there has to be some kind of entertainment factor to get people interested.
  • We have put our trust in human methodologies and strategies.
  • Prayer is hard work and it’s easier to try to fix things ourselves.
  • We’re satisfied with the status quo.
  • There is no sense of desperation for God in the church.

Perhaps Spurgeon was right when he said that slothfulness in prayer is one of the first signs of God’s absence from a church.

“My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer”

God’s intention always has been for His house to be a place where people come to pray. God said it in Isaiah 56:7. Jesus repeated it. Nowhere does the Bible say: “My house shall be called a house of music.” Nowhere does the Bible say: “My house shall be called a house of preaching.” I’m not minimizing the importance of those things; we need to sing and to teach and preach. But collectively seeking God in prayer ought always to be a defining characteristic of our meetings and elevated to a place of preeminence in our corporate gatherings.

We can’t help but see in the Book of Acts that corporate prayer was given the highest priority by church leaders and members. When the church came together, they prayer together:

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:14, NASB). The early believers had no strategy other than to come together, pray, and wait on God. That’s it; that was their strategy—united and continual prayer. It worked.

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). This first description of the early church after Pentecost gives us a glimpse into the corporate life of the first church. Praying together was one of the essentials that defined church life.

When a complaint arose by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebrew Jews that their widows were being overlooked, seven godly men were appointed to serve the widows. The apostles said: But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). I have always understood this to mean the apostles would devote themselves to personal prayer and to the public ministry of preaching and teaching the Word. But when you look at the original language, it seems to be saying something else. Literally it reads “to the prayer and the ministry of the word.” The article the before both “prayer” and “ministry of the word” suggests that the apostles were talking not about their personal prayer lives but rather about two essential ministries to the church: (1) leading the church to pray and (2) preaching the Word. Guiding the church to pray together is no less essential than preaching.

Desperation for God = Powerful Prayer Meetings

A.T. Pierson said: “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.” It’s well documented that all true revivals in history began in the prayer meeting. Based on the teaching of Scripture, the example of the early church, and church history, it seems to me that the need of the hour is to worry less about doing whatever it takes to draw a crowd and to give greater attention to collectively seeking God in prayer.

What would happen if we came to the place where we are desperate for God and we chased after Him together in prayer with humility and sincerity? What if our praying together as a church became more than just a hospital report? What if the days of rote, comfortable, and convenient prayers were over? What if our praying together was instead characterized by a united, agonizing crying out for God to move among us and to fall upon us in power?

Spurgeon said: “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.” He also said: “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.”

What if we could change the conversation from whatever happened to prayer meeting to what happened at prayer meeting?

10 ways I’m praying for my pastor

My pastor needs prayer, and so does yours. Every pastor needs prayer. The apostle Paul acknowledged repeatedly that he needed the church to pray for him. He appealed to the Romans: “strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Rom. 15:30). To the church at Corinth Paul wrote: “You also must help us by prayer” (2 Cor.‬ ‭1‬:‭11‬). He twice urged the Thessalonians: “Brothers, pray for us” (1 Thess.‬ ‭5‬:‭25; 2 Thess. 3:1‬). Pastors desperately need prayer.

Here are 10 specific and biblical ways I am praying for my pastor:

1. I pray that his first love will be Jesus (John 21:15-17).

2. I pray he will keep his marriage and family a priority. They are his first ministry (Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 3:4).

3. I pray he will have the mindset that true success in ministry is measured by faithfulness to God—nothing more, nothing less (1 Cor. 4:2).

4. I pray for his purity so that he will not fall into temptation (Ps. 24:3-4).

5. I pray he will continually seek God’s direction for our church (Ex. 33:13-15; Ps. 32:8; James 1:5).

6. I pray he will have boldness to speak the truth and grace to speak it with humility (Acts 20:18-21; Eph. 6:19).

7. I pray that he will teach sound doctrine (2 Tim. 2:15; Titus 1:9; 2:1).

8. I pray he will discern what is most important and be guarded against the tyranny of the urgent (Acts 6:1-4).

9. I pray God will protect him from negative criticism, false expectations, and gossip, and that he will have a soft heart in the face of abusive and mean-spirited people (Prov. 26:4).

10. I pray he will receive the rest that he needs (Luke 5:15-16).

Pastor, “far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23).

17 things to pray for your children

I pray daily for my children. To be honest, though, my prayers too often fall short. They fall short because they focus only on immediate concerns, like behavioral issues, a good day at school, or good health. There’s nothing wrong with praying for those things, but this falls short of the kind of visionary praying that can not only shape our children’s destinies, but the destinies of generations to come.

Mark Batterson, in Praying Circles around Your Children, wrote, “Your prayers for your children are the greatest legacy you can leave.” He also said this:

You don’t have to do everything right as a parent, but there is one thing you cannot afford to get wrong. That one thing is prayer. You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent. There is nothing you can do that will have a higher return on investment. In fact, the dividends are eternal. Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren, and every generation that follows.

With that in mind, I think it is important we pray these things for our children:

A vibrant relationship with God
1. Pray they would make the decision early in life to follow Christ (2 Tim. 3:15).
2. Pray for a growing relationship with Christ that matures as they mature (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18).
3. Pray they would long for God (Ps. 42:1) and have a hunger and thirst for His righteousness (Matt. 5:6; 6:33).

Godly character
4. Pray they would define “normal” as God defines normal, not as the world defines normal (Rom. 12:2).
5. Pray they would be pure in heart (Matt. 5:8).
6. Pray they would love and value the things God loves and values (Mic. 6:8; Isa. 1:16-17).
7. Pray they would hate sin (Ps. 97:10).

Clarity of mission
8. Pray they would never be ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16).
9. Pray they would be courageous in their witness for Christ (Dan. 3:17-18; Acts 4:31).
10. Pray that, wherever and however God calls them to serve Him, they would say yes to Him (Isa. 6:8).

Healthy relationships
11. Pray for friends who will be a godly influence (Prov. 17:17; 1 Cor. 15:33; 1 Thess. 5:11).
12. Pray they would respect those in authority over them (Titus 3:1).
13. Pray they would be kept from the wrong spouse and save themselves for the right one (2 Cor. 6:14).

Discernment and wisdom for making good decisions.
14. Pray that when they lack wisdom, they would ask of God (James 1:5).
15. Pray they would love God’s Word (Ps. 119:127) and it would be a lamp to their feet and a light to their path (Ps. 119:105).

Spiritual protection
16. Pray God would protect them from ungodly influences (John 17:15; 1 Cor. 10:13).
17. Pray God would protect them from the deception of finding their self-worth in how they look, what they wear, and what others think of them (1 Sam. 16:7).

What are you praying for your children?