It seems that though individual prayer is alive and well, the popularity of the church prayer meeting has declined. And this is a tragedy. If you look at the early church described in Acts, it is corporate prayer, corporate learning of biblical truth, corporate evangelism and corporate Christian maturity which are highlighted. As Gene Getz says, 'the personal dimensions of Christianity are difficult to maintain and practice consistently unless they grow out of a proper corporate experience on a regular basis'. EM Bounds commented that 'the New Testament churches were churches where the people made a priority of prayer'. Jesus himself promised that 'where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them'. Corporate seems to have extra power.
The spread of the gospel was very much linked to corporate prayer. Think of the disciples in the upper room praying together before Pentecost. Think of the Christians praying for further boldness to speak the word after Peter and John in Acts 4 were released from jail by the Jews. Preachers and preaching needs the prayers of the church - Paul, the great apostle who had had a personal encounter with Jesus, who had written 14 of 27 New Testament books and who may have even had a visit to heaven, implored his brothers and sisters to 'join me in my struggle by praying to God for me' (Romans 15:30). If Paul needed corporate prayer, how much more do we contemporary ministers. Corporate prayer has also been a key to church revival. As one example, the prayers of a group of men in 1949 preceded a remarkable work of God on the Isle of Lewes in the Hebrides. Many came to Christ. Group prayer can also give discernment. It was during church prayers that Barnabus and Saul in Acts 13 were commissioned for mission by the Holy Spirit. Finally, in the words of Dietrich Bobhoeffer, 'a Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses'. We should be diligent in our prayer for one another.
If you can make time, do join us for prayer every first Friday of the month at the Ministry Centre at 8.00 p.m. It's a blessed time.