Last week, the speaker Elder Eng Chuan (Bethesda Katong) had said something like this, “Why do we need to come to church on Sunday? We can worship God anywhere. We can do the Breaking of Bread at home”. On a similar vein, I like to pose the question, ” Why do we strongly encourage our people to submit their prayer requests and to attend our Wednesday prayer services.” One of the frequent answers we get is “We can pray on our own at home or in groups at home. Why bother to travel all the way to church, just for an hour of prayer?”
The average attendance at our Wednesday prayer services is about 15-20. It can range from a low of 6 to a high of just below 30. But the usual average is about 15-20. And this is slightly less than 10% of our congregation of 300.
I am pretty sure that the regulars in our prayer services will concur with me that it is always a blessing to come and pray for the church and for one another. There may be reasons for those who attend to come. I would like to think that they find a need to do so and want to do it. As for the rest, we will want to encourage and urge them to join us.
For a start, make a commitment to come, say once a month. GOD will enable and strengthen us. We all have errands to run. Things big and small lined up to take up slots of time in our busy daily schedules. And the weekly prayer service, if we are willing to prioritize, will be one such demand. Hence, to start with, we have to tell ourselves that the effort to want to attend MUST be intentional. Otherwise, we will never make it to the mid week prayer service.
As an additional encouragement, church council members shall lead by example. So they are encouraged to attend at least twice a month. Since the beginning of the year, we have arranged for the meetings to be chaired by an elder or a deacon.
Consider what the saints of old said about prayers:
“Prayer is where the action is.” – John Wesley .
“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” – Corrie Ten Boom
“Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.” – William Cowper
“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” – Charles Spurgeon
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” – Oswald Chambers
Yes, we can pray alone. We can pray at home. But there is great value in coming to pray together as a congregation so that we are in ONE mind for the petitions that we want God to hear from us (2 Cor 1: 11- You also must help us by
prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many).
In this current age of technology, there is so much of noise and distraction. It is easier to spend time tweeting or on our Facebook feeds. Martin Luther once said that if our hearts are warmed through Scriptures, then we will go into prayer because we want to pray, because we want to praise God for what we see, and we want to meet Him in prayers too.
Charles Spurgeon in his book entitled “Prayer And Spiritual Warfare” mentioned the account of King David’s prayers in the cave (Psalm 142:1). God tested David, before elevating him to a larger sphere of service and a higher platform of spiritual life. David was to be king in Jerusalem, but he had to go to the throne by way of the cave. Hence, do not be surprised if we are to go by way of the cave if we are to seek the will of God. He wants us to be in prayers always, for God wants to teach us many things before we are even there. For God to make us greatly useful, He must teach us how to pray. Just like what He did to David, “I cried into the Lord with my voice; with my voice into the Lord did I make my supplication”.
Are we willing to be intentional in this endeavor for corporate prayers. If 50% say yes now, we have 150. And if we commit to once a month for a start, we have 38 and that will be almost 100% increase from current state.
We all can make the difference. To God be the glory!
Elder Andrew Lim