Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Are church prayer meetings necessary?

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

prayer

Matthew 18: 19-20  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

The corporate mid-week church prayer meeting is all but absent in the churches of our day. The vast majority of churches no longer have one because they think it is either unpopular, irrelevant, or unnecessary.

Excuses for its cancellation abound. We often hear it said:

“The attendance is low, most people don’t come; we should not have a service that is unpopular with the people. It is a struggle for busy working people to make a mid-week prayer meeting; they don’t want it, and therefore we should cancel it.”

“Prayer meetings are irrelevant; we need to do the work of God through methods that are more relevant and impactful in meeting people’s needs and drawing them into the church. Prayer meetings are a relic of a bygone era.”

“A meeting devoted to prayer is unnecessary; we pray at church during our Sunday service and in our homes during the week, surely it is not necessary to pray more than this.”

The net result of such thinking is a dramatic reduction in corporate church prayer, to the point that prayer in the congregation is reduced to that which occurs in the morning worship, (most churches do not have an evening service on Sunday either) and focused, extended, and participatory prayer is entirely absent from the life of the church.

And yet, it is corporate, participatory, and extended prayer that is exactly what we desperately need in our day of spiritual weakness, apathy, and worldliness.

In the passage cited above, Jesus in the context is speaking of corporate church discipline, and corporate church prayer.

He expects that just as the church practices corporate discipline, that it will practice corporate prayer as well.

But must it practice it at a mid-week prayer service? Obviously, there is no command for it to do so, and it would be legalism to insist that it must. Some have prayer meetings on Sunday before or after the worship services, and some at other times.

But what must be insisted on is that the church needs to have times of focused, extended, and participatory prayer, and her failure to do so is a direct manifestation of her self sufficiency, complacency, and spiritual apathy.

We see prayer meetings of the church recorded in Acts 1:13-14, Acts 4:23-31, and in Acts 12:5,12. In each case, people did not just pray privately in their closets, but met together for corporate public prayer. The results were astounding in each case.

The early church understood the need for extended times of corporate prayer that were separate from and in addition to the regular corporate worship. We need to understand it as well. If you are thinking about canceling your prayer meeting, don’t. And if you don’t have one, start one up.

There are great benefits from doing so. Historically, revivals have begun out of corporate prayer meetings. Furthermore, they greatly deepen church unity – the people you feel the closest to, are the people you pray with the most. And most importantly, through them the Bride of Christ most intimately communes with her Lord, and receives grace from Him.

The spiritual condition of a church may be accurately gauged by her prayer meetings. If the spirit of prayer is not in the people, the minister may preach like an angel, but little will come of it. May God fill our prayer meetings with His presence, His power, and His Spirit, as His people gather to bow in His presence and seek His mercy and grace.

Pastor Max Doner
Sovereign Grace Bible Church
Lebanon, Oregon
  1. Classic Max! Thank you.

  2. When you say “it is often said” where are the sources for the quotes you provided? Who is saying these things? The only time I’ve ever heard anyone say anything like the quotes you provided is when I’m in the presence of other Reformed Baptists and they’re pointing out flaws in what “these other Churches do”. This just seems like another example of the RB group making absolute law out of something that is preferential. I’ve never once been in a church that lacked any kind of prayer, so if the argument here was “any kind of prayer” then I would agree, the Church would/should examine itself if it never prays. However, this argument that Christ instituted a sanctified day of prayer, is, I feel, over reaching and yet another example of RB’s taking their preferences, making it law and holding other Churches to their standard. Frankly, it’s offensive and why I left the RB Church.

  3. Hi Mike,

    At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with this paticilar blog entry. It’s a fact that Church members in general neglect the stated meetings of the Church (especially prayer meeting). It doesn’t matter if prayer meeting is held on a Wednesday evening or on a Lords day evening, the numbers are grievously low. This is very telling. This says to the world that congregational prayer is not important at all. I’m amazed that you glossed over the big issue that’s presented here and zoomed in on the authors preferred day to have prayer meeting over another. Brother, please rethink this issue altogether.

  4. I didn’t gloss over the main issue, I glossed over the issue this article attempts to present because It’s a non-issue, imho. The main issue I see is this attempt to make prayer meetings law because we read verses like Matt 18:19-20 and conclude this must mean if we (the Church) holds a prayer meeting and some members don’t attend then we must also conclude that it’s “not important at all”. The interpretation of that scripture and the conclusion drawn is a stretch to say the least. Not to mention a very harsh and judging thing to conclude about a whole lot of other brothers and sisters. Where is the Mercy? When we turn things like prayer into law we rob people of the joy they bring because some will simply attend out of ritual, and it’s hard to really know the difference sometimes.

    “The numbers are greviously low”

    What are the metrics? What are acceptable numbers? Who concludes? I’m sure you’ll say something like “God concludes” so I must ask, where in scripture is the commandment that all NT Church members MUST attend any meeting the Church holds, in this case, “Prayer meetings”? To borrow the language of RB’s, not just hinted at but where is this “specifically commanded”. If it’s simply that Churches must collectively pray, then like I said before, I’ve never been to a Church that didn’t collectively pray.

    The irony in all this is that RB’s pick and choose what meetings a Church holds where attendance should be taken. Then in the next sentence mock and condemn other brothers and sisters because they join together for small groups. Or is it that He isn’t gathered there with them because their meeting doesn’t meet anothers personal preference for congregasional meeting? My head hurts.

    Please trust, I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve been the regular attendee at prayer meetings, and I still go when I am able.

    At the end of the day I’m forced to ponder what this article is really about? Is it trying to reach all Christians about the importance of prayer or is it a group-think message to those that already attend prayer meetings as a pat on the back for their attendance?

  5. Did Mike read the same piece I just read? Mike, it sounds to me like you would have left Spurgeon’s church due to some of his comments about church prayer meetings, which is fine, if you want to be know as that kind of guy.

  6. Richard I must confess, you’re right. I would have “left Spurgeon’s church”, or anyone else’s Church other than Christ.

    So know me as whatever “kinda guy” you need to, I’ll still know you as a brother.

  7. Pastor Max,

    Thanks for this post. May the Holy Spirit be poured out upon all NT Churches as the Spirit of prayer and supplication, and may our formal, public prayer meetings be increasingly attended with Christ’s power and presence!

    Mike Waters
    Heritage RBC

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