“The Prayer Night”
What comes to mind when you hear those words?
The phrase to many might sound almost archaic, maybe even outdated or irrelevant to you. Something that sounds like it belongs in the same sentence as “stained glass”.
Surely out of all the things we can spend time doing, prayer might be one of the most overlooked and undervalued of them all. Of course we don’t believe that we should never prayer — we just quietly believe that it isn’t all that necessary. We would never say it out loud, but deep in our hearts we think we can do just fine without it, at least without much of it.
This has rung true in my life. My prayer life is easily the most underdeveloped part of my Christian life. By underdeveloped I mean that I have spent more time developing, studying, thinking through my preaching, outreach, discipleship, etc. than I have prayer. I have a hunch that I am not alone in this.
But there has been one thing that has changed that for me.
It wasn’t a book. It wasn’t a conference. It wasn’t a sermon.
Those are all good things. But it was something much different.
It was a prayer night.
No lights. No frills. Just people. And God.
It was January of 2017 when we decided to make what was just a handful of prayer nights during our corporate fast something that should continue weekly. Since then, our 5 year old church plant has made it a point to gather almost every Monday to praise and petition God. It has easily been one of the best decisions we’ve made for our church.
As of now, we meet weekly in the library of the school we gather in. Fluorescent lights, mixed furniture and a small group of people who have no business belonging together. It is simple and yet so powerful and encouraging!
I have never left a prayer meeting feeling like I’ve wasted my time or could have been doing something more productive. If your church has a prayer gathering, I want to encourage you to engage in it. If your church does not have one, I want to encourage you to consider talking with your leaders and pastors. It just might change your church, your city, your heart and how you view God and life, like it is so powerfully doing with us!
Here are 3 reasons to attend or start a prayer gathering!
It makes God bigger and sin uglier.
That might sound weird to you if you are used to prayer being something like a list of requests you rattle off to God. But as we have seen and experienced, prayer is not just asking God for help but praising God for who He is. We have found that as you look to who God is (sovereign, infinite, loving, merciful, patient, faithful, etc.) your problems not only shrink but your sin becomes more distasteful as your are fixed on a bigger and more beautiful object — Jesus! Sometimes even our prayers drive us deeper within ourselves - but upward prayer - prayer that praises and rejoices in who God is, does just the opposite, and it is so refreshing.
It connects you to your church.
When I leave a prayer gathering, I leave closer and more aware of my brothers and sisters. No one is pretending or putting on a show when we gather. Many of us come in often limping, burdened by our anxiety or broken by our baggage. But what I find so beautiful is that people don’t sweep it under the rug. It’s in these prayer gatherings that I can hear both the struggles and victories of people. I hear the pain, the desperation, the fear, the faith, the questions, the repentance - and it all brings us closer as we learn we are more alike than we realize.
It humbles you.
This is huge. I think prayer can be so hard for me at times because it is the one thing I do that leaves me with little to no control. It takes the ball out of my hands and puts it into God’s hands. It swings me into the sobering reality that I am dependent, I am needy, I am small, I am limited, I am sinful. Although your flesh might not enjoy being humbled, your soul needs it. Jesus’ brother said that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. If that is true, then we should run to the things that keep us humble and run form the things that make us prideful. Praying with your brothers and sisters does just that.
There is much more I can write but I want to leave you with this provoking through from Charles Spurgeon; “I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this, the measure of the intensity of your prayer.”
If you want to gauge the measure and maturity of your faith, it may be start with looking at your prayer life. Likewise, if you want to gauge the measure and maturity of your church’s faith, you might want to look at how you pray together as a family - it says a lot more than you can imagine.