In our last communication session, Ps Daniel said that if there is anyone who does not know where to serve or have a ministry to serve in, he or she can easily join the Prayer Ministry. Considering many churches have left prayer meetings only to “the faithful few”, it is heartening to see that our pastors are placing great importance on our corporate prayer meetings and deeming them important for the spiritual health of Hermon.
The prayer ministry is a “majority” ministry. By this, I mean a ministry that is for everyone. Not everyone is called to teach (James 3:1), but everyone is called to pray: “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Throughout church history, prayer meetings have been greatly used by God to spark reformation, revival and zeal for missions. Scripture is clear about God’s people assembling for prayer. In Isaiah 56:7, God says, “For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”. Many of the psalms are clearly intended to guide the corporate prayers of God’s people. In Exodus 14-15, we read that after Moses and the Israelites had successfully crossed the Red Sea and the armies of Pharaoh were swept into the sea, they joined in prayerful praise for the Lord’s triumph. Nehemiah 9 recounts a prayer meeting in which God’s people confess their corporate sins and praise the promise-keeping God by recounting his powerful deeds throughout redemptive history. The book of Acts provides numerous examples of the church at prayer. Acts 1:14, for example, describes the apostles, the women who followed Jesus and Jesus’ earthly family members “devoting themselves to prayer”. In Acts 12, we find Peter imprisoned by Herod. On the night before he is to be brought to Herod for execution, an angel of the Lord appears, and Peter is able to escape from prison. He then heads to a home “where many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12:12). In Matthew 6:5-13, when the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus starts the Lord’s prayer with, “Our Father, who art in Heaven”. There are four “ours”, four “us” and a “we”, signifying the corporate nature of the prayer and that we should pray not just for one another but with one another as well.
Prayer meetings are vital because prayer is one of the weapons in our arsenal as the church. Ephesians 6 vividly describes the armour of God that is ours in Christ. After describing all the weapons at our disposal, Paul calls the church in Ephesus to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (v. 18). Prayer is both a defensive weapon and an offensive weapon given to the church. This is a weapon for individual believers, but it is also a weapon for the church to wield together as the body of Christ.
Here are six brief points on why prayer meetings are important.
1. Corporate prayer unifies the body of Christ
Prayer is communing and conversing with God. As we converse with God and yield our hearts to Him, He brings our will into perfect alignment with His. As we pray together, our hearts are more deeply knit with God’s heart and with one another. We are given a glimpse of the unity we will enjoy in heaven. Corporate prayer connects us around a common purpose — seeking God’s heart. As we seek Him together, there is solidarity. We are not all pulling in our own directions. Our prayers become less selfish and more focused on God’s will and purpose for our lives and the lives of others. As we pray as a unified group, with one heart and one mouth, we glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in a way that is unparallel to any other method (Romans 15:6).
2. Corporate prayer edifies and encourages those who participate
When we gather to pray and seek the heart of God, individual hearts are encouraged. Life is hard and our difficulties are many. Individuals within the group may be struggling with trials too personal to mention but as they pray in unity with other believers, their hearts are re-focused on the almighty God. Their faith is strengthened by remembering His grace and goodness. The Holy Spirit brings them reassurance and comfort through the prayers of others. This is why the wise writer of Hebrews reminds us to not forsake meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). As we pray together, our hearts are opened towards the needs of others. During prayer times together, the Holy Spirit will often speak to a person, showing him how he can specifically encourage those with needs. In this way, we live out the instructions of the Apostle Paul when he calls us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 1:6).
3. Corporate prayer disciples believers in prayer
As believers gather for prayer, those who are new to the faith can learn from those who are mature in their faith. As those who are new to the faith listen to others praying, they will learn prayer techniques such as praying Scripture, listening in silence for God’s response, interceding on behalf of others, and methods of praising and worshipping God. In essence, they will be discipled in prayer.
4. Corporate prayer strengthens weakened faith
When our faith is fragile and doubt creeps in, corporate prayer and worship can strengthen us as we lean into the faith of others. The Apostle John wrote that we can have the confidence that if we ask in prayer, God hears us and answers (1 John 5:14-15). However, often, when prayers go seemingly unanswered for a long time, doubt creeps in. When we pray with other believers and experience God moving, it strengthens our hearts to wait on Him for our own answers. The Apostle James instructs us that when we are sick, we are to call the elders and have them pray as a united front over us (James 5:14-15). Surrounding ourselves with strong prayer warriors strengthens our faith and even brings healing.
5. Corporate prayer can facilitate corporate repentance
Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel all modelled repentance as part of corporate prayer (Ezra 7:10, Nehemiah 9:2, Daniel 9:11). As we stand together united in prayer, the Holy Spirit can bring an awakening in our hearts to our need to confess our sins. In humility, we recognise and renounce sin as disobedience to a holy God. No sin is committed in isolation. All wrongdoing affects others within the body of Christ. When we engage in corporate confession, we are individually cleansed and forgiven for our sins and there is a fresh awakening to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. As a result, revival is often unleashed.
6. Corporate prayer creates a sense of expectancy
Expectancy is a Biblical concept. In Psalm 5, David writes, “At daybreak, Lord, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly” (Psalm 5:3, HCSB). As believers continue to gather regularly for intentional times of corporate prayer, a sense of anticipation arises. People become excited to have these prayer meetings, expecting to see God show up and answer. As people witness God answering the prayers of others, their sense of hope builds, and they wait with expectation for God to answer their own requests. As we seek the face of God together, we will see unity grow, experience encouragement firsthand, strengthen our collective faith, facilitate repentance, and create a sense of expectant hope.
Prayers are not just petitions and intercessions. Prayers also consist of blessings, adoration and thanksgiving. Christians will continue to pray in heaven. In Revelation 7:9-10, we are told of a great multitude of the saints gathered together, in a prayer meeting, worshipping and praising God: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out – ‘praying’ — with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!". Before the Lord comes again, martyrs are seen praying for God’s judgement, as they cry out, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10).
A question lingers in my mind as I write this: “Will we join prayer meetings only in heaven, or should we begin now, here on earth, and continue in heaven?” May we be encouraged to come for prayer meetings. Hermon currently conducts prayer meetings every fortnight, on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. Will you come? May the Lord help us. Amen.
- Eld Sim Chow Meng
1. OPC, 6 August 2019. Why Prayer Meetings Are Vital to the Well Being of The
2. Becky Harling, 28 April 2021. 6 Reasons Why Corporate Prayer Is Powerful and
3. Marten Visser, 10 March 2020. Will There Be Prayer in Heaven.