This article gives eight advantages to prayer meetings.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2008. 3 pages.

Why Every Christian Should Seek to Attend a Prayer Meeting

The advantages of a well conducted prayer-meeting, wrote John Angel James, “are great and numerous.”

But what might these advantages be?🔗

  1. The church was conceived at a prayer meeting🔗

Having been expressly told to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4, 8), the disciples, the Lord’s brothers, and the women met together in an upper room and “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14). As a result, the New Testament church was born! Luke employs two sig­nificant words to describe their activity: homothymadon, which suggests they were of the same mind (c.f. 4:24; 15:25), and proskartereo, which suggests their persistence. Paul echoed the latter idea by using the same word in exhorting the Romans to continue “instant (i.e. steadfastly) in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).

  1. The New Testament church continued as it had begun🔗

Immediately after Pentecost the church is described as continuing “steadfastly ... in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Later, when the Sanhedrin arrested Peter and John and warned them not to preach anymore in the name of Jesus, it appears that the rest of the church was attending a prayer meeting elsewhere in the city (possibly the same upper room as in Acts 1). After the two apostles were released, they went and joined the rest of the disciples and “raised their voice to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24). Before Peter and John resumed their preaching work again, they held a time of prayer (Acts 4:31). When Peter was eventually imprisoned for preaching the gospel, the church responded with yet another prayer meeting (Acts 12:5, 12). Before the outset of the first missionary journey, the church set aside time for a prayer meeting (Acts 13:1). In appointing church elders and other workers, prayer meet­ings were held (Acts 6:4-6; 14:23). Paul and Silas continued the practice, holding a midnight prayer meeting in a prison in Philippi (Acts 16:25). And before saying farewell to the Ephesian elders on the shores of Miletus, Paul knelt down and prayed with them (Acts 20:36). When Paul was returning to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, the ship in which he sailed stopped at Tyre to load cargo. Paul spent the night in the company of the church there and before parting the next day, men, women, and children held a prayer meeting on the beach next to the ship (Acts 21:5). And in a storm on another ship which run aground, Paul organized yet another prayer meeting (Acts 27:29). The lesson of the early church seems to be prayer, prayer, and more prayer!

  1. The prayer meeting is the power by which God’s kingdom advances🔗

When Jesus saw the multitudes, “he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:36-38). The kingdom of God advances by the activity of prayer meetings in which the blessing of God is called for. Souls are won by prayer.

  1. Our Lord Jesus felt the need for prayer meetings🔗

It is surely an amazing fact that, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when our Lord was facing the consequences of His Father’s will, that He should die as the sinner’s substitute, that He should have expected the prayer support of His closest disciples (Matt. 26:40). As the unfolding revelation of what lay before Him became clearer, He felt a desire for the prayers of sinners to uphold Him! How much more do we need the support of one another in prayer meetings as we struggle against “principali­ties and powers” set to destroy us.

  1. Prayer meetings demonstrate our corporate union as the body of Christ🔗

In a sermon on 2 Samuel, John Calvin reminded his Genevan congregation that every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, repeating those words “Our Father,” we are reminded of our obligation to pray together. “When we pray to him, although we do so individually, we say: ‘Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts’ (Matt. 6:11-12). This does not teach us to say: ‘Lord provide for me, and let me be sustained.’ But rather we pray in common with others.” Few things demonstrate the unity of the body of Christ more than corporate prayer.

  1. Prayer meetings have been God’s way of bringing about revivals🔗

Before the revival in America in 1857, Jeremiah Lan­phier called a prayer meeting in Fulton Street in downtown New York. Within six months, ten thousand businessmen were praying for revival. Within two years, it is estimated that some two million people had been added to the church. At the same time in Ballymena, Ireland, a certain Mrs. Colville had been used by God in the conversion of a young man called James McQuilkin. He in turn led three of his friends to Christ. The four met together in an old schoolhouse during the winter of 1857 and 1858 in order to pray for revival. By the end of 1858, the numbers had grown to fifty. In 1859, it is estimated that some 100,000 were converted throughout Ireland. God speaks of setting “watchmen” on the walls of Jerusalem who “shall never hold their peace day nor night,” and “give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:6-7).

  1. Prayer meetings change history🔗

In time of national strife, our prayer meetings ought to be full! In the time of Queen Elizabeth I, the Spanish were planning to invade and among other things, enforce Roman Catholicism on the newly reformed Protestant Church. As the Spanish admirals gath­ered hundreds of ships in preparation, God’s praying people prepared another task force to meet them. In congregations all over England, they fell to their knees in urgent prayer. The Armada set out in the spring of 1588, but never landed in England. After several skirmishes in the English Channel, ter­rific storms came up which scattered the Spanish fleet, driving many of the ships so far off course that they returned home by sailing around the north of Scotland!

  1. Prayer meetings deal death blows to the enemy🔗

In the time of good king Jehoshaphat, a large number of enemies had come against Judea (2 Chron. 20). Although God’s people were outnumbered, they were still trusting Him and had decided to go out and fight for all that they were worth. Jehoshaphat mobilized the army, but he also asked the people of Israel to fast and pray before they took action (2 Chron. 20:3).

Assembling the people for battle, he ordered the women and children to come out and stand in front of the army (made up of their husbands and fathers). Next, he had the priests and the temple choir come out and lead the congregation in praise. As they began to sing and to praise God, the soldiers in the enemy army began to destroy one another. Satan was defeated by the prayers and praises of women and children! God inhabits the praises of Israel (Ps. 22:3).

  1. Prayer meetings release blessings already in store🔗

If God is sovereign, what is the point of prayer? Speaking words of reassurance to God’s people in captivity, the Lord promises that they will return to their land again. It is a promise made by One who is sovereign. The matter is certain and yet, He says to them: “I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them” (Ezek. 36:37). Again, the clear implication seems to be that God expects His people to gather for collective prayers of intercession. Zechariah illustrates a similar situation, assuring his listeners of God’s blessing, and at the same time informing them that God will hear their prayers (Zech. 10:6). God has promised us many things, but He still wants to hear us ask Him for them. We should not disappoint Him by our neglect of the prayer meeting.

  1. Prayer meetings are the best means of encouraging min­isters of the gospel 🔗

Ask any preacher what he desires most of God’s people and he will tell you that it is the prayers of the congregation. Paul requested prayer-support from the Roman Christians immediately after telling them of his travel plans: “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed” (Rom. 15:30-32). Several things are worth noting about this passage. Note that Paul exhorts employing a compound verb, sunagonisthai (“strive together”), emphasizing the fact that it was the corporate prayers of God’s people that the apostle desired. Every preacher would echo these sentiments. Preachers are powerless and ineffective without the blessing of God upon their ministries — and prayer meetings are God’s appointed means of obtaining these much needed blessings.

For these reasons, every Christian should make every effort to attend his local church’s prayer meeting, and if possible, other prayer meetings as well.

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