What Happend To Corporate Prayer?

This title is a little odd sounding.  After all, how can a person be a Christian and not pray?  It happens all the time.  Prayer is a major neglect of the American Church… in my opinion.  My guess is that if a preacher reads this, he’ll probably get a little defensive.  I know… I’m a preacher… it bothers me and I am defensive.

It is recorded in Matthew 21:13 that Jesus said,

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer…'”

At one time, Wednesday night was called “Prayer Meeting.”  God’s people came together to pray.  But over time, fewer and fewer and fewer people came.  Attendance began to sag.  Corporate prayer declined in importance.  People didn’t come because they didn’t want to pray out loud because they were embarrassed (Many Christians told me this.).  They were embarrassed to talk out loud to the God that saved them… their Spiritual Father… with only their family present {Other Christians}.  That doesn’t make sense to me.  And so things began to change…

Since attendance is a MAJOR gauge for many in ministry as to their effectiveness, something had to be done (What I’m about to write may sound simplistic… and that’s okay).  Some churches moved Sunday Night Worship to Wednesday night… then they made Sunday night a time for discipleship… and prayer meeting, uh… prayer meeting was moved to, uh… prayer meeting became a class.  Interestingly, this “class” was not so much a time to pray as it was instruction on how to pray (Which becomes a need when people quit praying I guess.)  It just strikes me as odd that kids learn to talk by observation and listening and eventually you can’t shut them up!  Shouldn’t the same be true of prayer for those who’s Father saved them?  Just wondering. 

In an attempt to elevate prayer in importance, it became a “Ministry of the church.”  It was given it’s own room… cards were put in the pew for people to fill out requests… a Prayer Ministry Coordinator was recruited… individuals signed up to pray (by themselves) and everyone felt better.  Yet God’s people, praying together in small groups or enmasse, is no longer as prevalent as it used to be.

I’m afraid that many in ministry put more energy into planning, organization, and administration than they do in prayer.  It is more important to visit than pray.  It is more important to study than pray.  It is more important to read than pray.  It is more important to blog than pray.  The result? 

A decline in individual holiness.  A form of godliness that denies the Spirit’s power.  Legalism.  People ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Infant Christians without spiritual discernment.  Reliance upon surveys of the congregation to determine God’s direction for the church.  Committees asking people what they want instead of seeking God’s face for His will to be done.  And few realize their own condition.

The remedy?  Pray!  Emphasize prayer!  Have committee meetings where nothing but prayer is done.  Have deacons meetings where all they do is pray.  Have a month long prayer emphasis as a congregation… every year… that bolsters the prayerfulness of a church.  Pastors must remember the Apostles in Acts devoted themselves to PRAYER and follow their example.  Prayer must return to the place of importance it once was.

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