Daily Devotional 4-27-18

[It is my own opinion, after 40+ years in the ministry, that the most important thing about any church, right along side the preaching of the Word of God, is the church prayer meeting. The maintained spiritual life of every church will stand or fall in relation to the importance and priority of the prayer meeting. This article by Mike Lliff speaks to this issue. I do not agree with everything he says, but it is helpful to keep before our minds the church prayer meeting and our NEED to pray together. – MT]

The Church Prayer Meeting

It’s probably true — though I can’t prove it — that every church prayer meeting will have people in attendance that do not pray. We all know what it’s like to be in a meeting with those ‘awkward silences’. Not only that, it’s probably every minister’s goal to get everyone praying. It’s the ministerial equivalent of bringing peace to the Middle East. Many have tried and have failed.

Believe me, none of the following is meant to be in a critical spirit. I too attend the prayer meeting. I too want to see God moving. I want to be blessed. I want the local church to be blessed. I want God’s people to be blessed. I too would like the experience of the early church:

‘And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and contninued to speak the word of God with boldness.’ — Acts 4:31

What a thing that would be! I’ve been a Christian for nearly 40 years and my experience tells me not everyone prays. I know this because I can easily be the one that doesn’t pray. I’ve sat under countless pleas from ministers to get their people praying in public. It doesn’t seem to make a lasting difference no matter what’s done or said. Something isn’t working.

This is my rambling take on the problem (if it is a problem), and some comments that will hopefully help both the meeting and the minister.

AUDIBLE AND SILENT PRAYER

We all need to realise that because a person does not pray audibly, it does not necessarily mean they are not praying. They may not be, but isn’t it more charitable to assume they are? And when someone is praying audibly the others are following (one would hope) the prayer and saying a silent amen (if not an audible one) to the prayer.

I recently read an article about ladies praying in the prayer meeting. More specifica ly, that they should be praying. I know ladies that would never pray audibly in a prayer meeting. This is because it is their honest biblical conviction they should remain silent — I’m thinking especially of some elderly godly ladies. Forcing them to go against their conscience, I believe, is unhelpful. There are differing views on women praying in public. Personally, I have no objection to women praying in the prayer meeting if that is their conviction. Though to be honest, after looking into this, there’s a strong case against the practice. And it has nothing to do with male superiority but everything to do with how God has ordered differing roles for men and women. [I do not agree with his point about there being a strong case against women praying; that is not the case, in my opinion, because women did pray in the NT church- MT]

Men not praying in the prayer meeting is another thing altogether and I must address myself in this regard. Though even here there should be room for charity given differing abilities, self-consciousness, immaturity and so on. But as a general rule, the men ought to be praying. If they are not praying, how should this be remedied? That is the question. I don’t believe strong arm tactics are effective. Pummelling non-praying men with guilt is not helpful either, but there may be a case for the minister to lovingly draw alongside to counsel and encourage the brother.

THE ‘AWKWARD SILENCE’

The ‘awkward silences’ are only a problem if we make them a problem. Let’s assume, for the sake of charity, the people are praying, just not audibly. Ok, it is a church prayer meeting where people, God’s people, gather to pray aloud. But people will pray. People do pray. Just not everyone. Just not continuous, non-stop prayer throughout the meeting. Perhaps accepting this as the norm is just giving in to the problem. But maybe it would take the pressure off if more would pray.

— Mike Lliff