The early church gathered regularly for corporate prayer. They gathered to pray at key moments of decision (Acts 1:12-14). They gathered to pray when they were persecuted (Acts 4). But beyond these special meetings, the church gathered at fixed and regular times for corporate prayer (Acts 3:1; 13:1-3; 16:16). It was a consistent priority. C.H. Spurgeon believed that the prayer meeting was the most important gathering of the week. He attributed the success of the church to prayer when he said, “It is in the spirit of prayer that our strength lies; and if we lose this, the hair will be cut off from Samson’s head, and God’s Holy Church will become as weak as water…”
Unfortunately, there is a devaluing of corporate prayer in our day. I am always encouraged by those that come out to pray regularly on Wednesday evenings. But that group should be far larger than it is. Some are not able to attend because they have other ministry responsibilities. Some people’s work schedule won’t allow them to attend a mid-week meeting. But I fear that there are deeper issues that keep many people from gathering to pray.
One of the obstacles to prayer is pride. Many simply don’t feel a compelling need to pray. Their absence in prayer makes it clear that they have everything under control and they don’t need God’s help. Perhaps we would have a greater sense of inadequacy if we were consistently sharing our faith and engaged in making disciples. Another obstacle to prayer is laziness. Prayer is hard work. The disciples struggled to stay awake in prayer. The Bible describes prayer as a form of laboring or wresting. It is not easy. It doesn’t come naturally. And demands great effort. We rarely feel like praying. It requires a volitional decision to pray.
What is it that keeps you from gathering with God’s people to pray?
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