I have many wonderful memories of the church I grew up in, and I am forever grateful to the Lord for the wonderful foundation I received there as a child. Our pastor called it The House That Prayer is Building, and he ended every benediction and every form of written communication with these words: “ . . .And don’t forget to pray!” I saw prayer modeled by the adults in my world and that has had a lasting impact.
In simpler, safer times, the doors of our church were never locked and anyone in the neighborhood could go in to pray, to wait in God‘s presence, to listen and receive whatever they needed. Early morning, noon time and early evening someone gathered in that house to pray. The message was clear even to a child — prayer matters!!
I vividly remember the weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday. The week before we celebrated the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of our Lord was Passion Week — a week of nightly worship and powerful preaching. During those weeks I witnessed salvation, re-dedication, realignment, and more. In was a week during which lives were changed!!
Looking back, I now realize what made our Passion Week so powerful; that week was always preceded by two solid weeks of nightly prayer known as Cottage Prayer Meetings. Various members of our congregation would open up their homes for prayer. Each night we‘d travel to a different part of the city, look for the lantern on the porch or in the window that signaled this is the house of prayer, and squeeze into living rooms, dining rooms, hallways to pray. There would be singing, praying, sharing and often the evening would end with some light refreshment. There was something about those nights that was markedly different from prayer meetings at the church. One could feel the synergy, the intimacy, the power, the joy, the love. It wasn’t laborious. It wasn‘t a futile religious exercise. These saints fully expected to see something happen as a result. And even though I was a child, I knew that they knew that prayer was a vital necessity. They knew that prayer mattered!!
I like to believe that those meetings were much like the ones I read about in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 2: 42 is one of many passages that emphasize the fact that prayer matters, and not just our personal, individual prayers but corporate prayer. It says the believers committed themselves to four things, all equally important. They devoted themselves to: the apostles‘ teaching (the Word of God), fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. They understood what the military calls the force multiplier; they understood that by coming together as one they were stronger than they were individually.
The results of this oneness in prayer?
- Then awe came upon everyone and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles (2:43)
- No one was in lack or in need (2:44)
- They had favor with the people (2: 47)
- God added to the church daily (2:47)
- They were filled with the Holy Spirit (4:31)
- They spoke the word of God with boldness (4:31)
- The apostles witnessed with great power and great grace was upon them (4:33)
I love my personal times of prayer. I need those times like I need air to breathe. But I have a great appreciation for gathering with others for the purpose of prayer and intercession. There are just some things I cannot accomplish on my own; I need the faith of others. I believe the saints in my little Baptist church knew that. Something explosively powerful happens when we come together to pray.
In this season, I believe God is calling His Body not only to a greater commitment to pray, but a greater commitment to pray together!
I wonder what would happen if we became more intentional about gathering with other believers in our homes, on our jobs, at our churches to pray. I just wonder what radical changes would occur that have not yet occurred if we‘d pick up the phone on a regular basis and invite 3 or 4 others to join us for “Cottage Prayer!”
Be blessed and don’t forget to pray!