The Church at Prayer
As a church, we prayed this week at our prayer meeting for a dear brother who this week is preaching on the other side of the world near Australia, in the Fiji Islands. This is a common practice for our church to pray this way each week. We target specific and important needs and focus on crying out to the Lord for those specifically. We return the following week and continue to cry out for those same situations, plus new ones.
We regularly pray every week for different people and needs until we hear that there is some kind of answer that comes from the Lord. For a church to stay at prayer about a particular person or need until there is a change or breakthrough is a true faith-builder--to keep praying until something happens. There are some individuals, some lost people, some unmet needs in various situations among saints, that we will not stop praying for every week until we hear that prayer has been answered or God has specifically resolved and brought closure to the matter--"Men ought always to pray, and not faint." (Luke 18:1)
This week we also have begun to pray for a young lady, the daughter of a Christian leader, who has grievously fallen into sin and deception, living among wicked people, after being raised in a godly atmosphere. As a result, we are taking her life and situation upon us for prayer, beginning to pray every Wednesday night for this girl. We want to bear the burden in prayer with this family. We will pray regularly for her now. How will we pray? We will NOT pray such prayers as, "Lord, bless her and help her . . . "; such praying, in desperate situations, is not enough; instead, we will be asking the Holy Spirit to draw her, haunt her, convict her, make her miserable, to drive away ungodly people from her life, to intervene in her situation, to interrupt her wicked life style, to stop her completely, and turn her again to the way of truth. Serious situations calls for serious and specific praying.
Imagine a line of soldiers in battle, side by side, stationery and set in, guarding a certain location, entrenched so that the enemy can go no further, as they target oncoming soldiers approaching them in the battle. Every soldier, as a team, takes aim at specific targets and fires his weapon, so as to hit specific targets, in order to win the battle. So it ought to be when a church gathers for prayer. Prayer is a weapon, to be used as a church body, standing united in one purpose--to target specific strongholds, the wounded, the dying, specific lost individuals, broken relationships that need healing, those who are seriously ill, other churches, ministries, and specific mission fields, and any special need the church has been made aware of. Every church ought to be praying down the Spirit upon other churches they know, and upon the lives and needs of those truly facing difficulties. "Ready--aim--fire! --aim and fire! -aim and fire!' ought to be practiced in a true prayer meeting.
To pray for individuals as a church week after week can begin to have direct and powerful influence upon their life and direction. God hears the united and consistent prayers of his people.
Oh, the blessedness of a church body praying together with reality week after week after week, continuing to labor in prayer for the needs of those they hear about--to pray for the needs of both believers and unbelievers, and to do it in love and concern each week as a church body, in agreement and love. This is one of the most glorious experiences possible in church life because it is not a one-time experience, and then it's over, like an annual conference or an annual vacation, that comes around only once each year; corporate church prayer life is experienced weekly as a church body, and therein lies the encouragement. The church at prayer regularly is a mighty force in the earth. It's one thing for a true Christian to pray regularly, but it is another thing altogether for a church to labor together at prayer faithfully and continually.
Today our church will have the joy and privilege and baptizing four men and three ladies at the conclusion of our morning worship time. This great blessing certainly is not disconnected from the church laboring together weekly, month after month, in prayer together, that God would work and glorify His name.
- Mack Tomlinson