Volume. XXVII, No. 22
Sunday, 25 November 2012


The Importance of the Corporate Prayer Meeting Part 1


Almost every Wednesday evening, at 7.30 pm, we have a weekly prayer meeting held in church. It is a time which is set aside each week so that we can get together as an assembly of saints to pray and intercede for one another. At the prayer meeting, we pray for each other, for the ministries of this church, for other churches, for the government of Australia and for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Yet, if you have noticed our prayer meeting attendance, you would know that less than a fifth of the congregation we see every Lord’s Day attends. I write this with a certain sense of disappointment in my heart. Disappointment, because, while I see the importance that Scripture places on corporate prayer meetings, as a church we are not doing very well in this area. I do realise that many of us are unable to come for a variety of good reasons such as work, coupled with distance, young children, etc. But I wonder if some of us do not come because of a failure to understand the importance of prayer meetings; and therefore failing to prioritise in putting more effort in attending. It is therefore my intention to demonstrate to you from Scripture that attendance at  prayer meetings is really a duty of every Christian which should not be substituted with personal prayer at home or fellowship group prayer meetings.

Why Corporate Prayer Meetings?

The principle behind the idea of corporate prayer meetings is taken from Christ’s own words in Matthew 18:19-20 in the context of church discipline, "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt 18:19-20) In this passage, we see that the Lord has just given His disciples instruction about how a brother who trespasses against another is to be handled. The last step in the process is to count him as "an heathen man and a publican" (Matt 18:17), which means he is to be excommunicated. Now, I understand this is said in the context of excommunication (v.18) as the Lord makes the remarks in verses 19-20. For this reason, the gathering together (v.20) refers to the meeting of the church or the elders to decide on the excommunication of the unrepentant person, and the agreement (v.19) has to do with the judgement meted out. However, the Lord seems to be also stating a general principle that is applicable in other situations too, not just in the context of church discipline. You see, the Lord says, "if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask …" Although, this passage does not mean that the Lord would only be with us when “two or three persons gathered together.” However, this also does not restrict His promise in the matter of church discipline. Moreover, the word ‘agree’ translates a Greek word sumphôneô, from which we get the English word ‘symphony.’ Etymologically, the word literally means, "to call out together." This, together with the word ‘ask’ (aiteô) or ‘request’, suggests to us a context of corporate prayer where there is harmony in what is being asked.

The idea of a corporate prayer meeting is further highlighted by the phrase "gathered together in my name" (v.20), which suggests a purposeful Christian meeting (i.e. corporate prayer meeting). It is clear from the context that the Lord is not referring directly to the weekly Sunday worship service or fellowship group. He promises that when the brethren are so gathered, He would be in the midst of them (v.20); and when they pray, He would answer their prayers (v.19). In other words, the Lord promises His special presence and power when we meet for prayer, just as He promises His presence and His power when we engage in the work of evangelisation as Christ has promised, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth…I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt 28:18-20). John R. Mott says, “If added power attends the united prayer of two or three, what mighty triumphs there will be when hundreds of thousands of consistent members of the Church are with one accord day by day making intercession for the extension of Christ\'s Kingdom”.

The Example of the Early Church

A church, I believe, is never more like the New Testament church than when it is praying. The Early Church, for example, undoubtedly saw the importance of corporate prayer. Prayer meetings were the arteries of the early church. Someone rightly says, “…if you want to see how popular God is, attend the prayer meeting” (Everything by Prayer; Armin Gesswein, Fred Hartley). Although it is not possible to prove from the New Testament that the early church set aside a weekday each week for a corporate prayer meeting, it is highly probable that they met even more frequently than on a weekly basis. Very soon after the ascension of Christ, we find that the disciples constantly gathered in corporate prayer, perhaps daily and continually. "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." (Acts 1:14)* The next recorded prayer meeting occurred after Peter and John were warned by the Sanhedrin not to preach anymore in the name of Jesus. When the matter was reported to the brethren, they immediately met together in prayer. "They lifted up their voice to God with one accord" (Acts 4:24), we are told. Some time later, King Herod arrested the Apostle Peter. While he was in prison, "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him." (Acts 12:5) Notice that this does not mean that members of the church were praying for him privately, for after Peter was released from the prison by the angel of the Lord, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, where, we are told, "many were gathered together praying." (Acts 12:12) They gathered together praying—it was a corporate prayer meeting! Prayer meetings, moreover, did not end with Acts. We have evidence to suggest that whenever Paul had company with him, he would call for "prayer meetings." Writing to the Christians in Colossae, Paul mentions about praying for them with Timothy, his son in the faith (Col. 1:3, 9). Similarly, writing to the Thessalonians, he tells them that he prays for them together with Silas and Timothy. "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers." (1 Thess. 1:2; cf. 3:10; 2 Thess. 1:11)

The Challenge of the Modern Day

Some of us may say, “It is just not possible for modern day Christians to meet and pray as often as the Christians in the 1st century.” True. In our busy modern society, it is practically impossible to meet regularly on an ad hoc basis to pray, as did the early Christians. But the principle and importance of corporate prayer remains. It remains our duty to pray with fellow believers, to call out together to the Lord for the needs of the church. There is no excuse for those who can make it for the prayer meeting to neglect this important Christian duty. The Lord teaches us that by our love for one another, all men may know that we are His disciples (John 13:35). What better way to demonstrate our love for one another and for the servants of the Lord, than to meet to pray for one another during the week? What’s more, the Lord promises us His special audience and blessings when we meet to pray. It is a Christian duty that should not be overlooked.

To be continued…

 

Pastor Weng

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster: Today’s Team Leader: Bro Raphael Ng. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Simon Yeo

*Welcome back: Ps David & Sis Susan Weng & family

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm.

*BBQ Dinner after Mini Christmas Concert. Please invite your family members & friends to attend. Helpers  required to help with BBQ. Please see Dn David Yeo if you can help.

*Please note: Sunday School Christmas Party - please encourage your children to come.

*Transfer of Membership will be held on The Lord’s Day, 9 Dec.

*Today’s Fellowship Lunch is catered. Adult $5. Child under 5 years old FREE.

*Evening Service: Please invite your friends.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Ps David & Sis Susan Weng & family; Elder Michael D Lee; Mr Lucas Lee; Bros Raymond Ang (Adl) & Raphael Ng (Goolwa/Adl); Sisters  Xandrea Cai (Adl), Wendy Liang (Canada), Gillian Ong (S’pore), & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl); & others who have arrived safely.

2. Church Activities, including Session Meeting, in the past week.

3. Approval of Ps Okman & Sis Myung Ki’s UK Visas.

4. God’s help & guidance with exams - our Year 12 students & university Students.

5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

6. Visitors & new worshippers.

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson (Nursing Home); Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bros Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (S’pore); Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth (Nursing Home), Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong, Myung Ki, Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), Susan Varadi (Nursing Home); Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Mang Soo Ong (Sis Gillian Ong’s father); Mr Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Dn Edwin’s mother in Mumbai) & Mrs Chuilin Yap (Malacca); Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry (Phnom Penh); Bro John Saray & Ministry (Kampot).

3. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam

4. Ministry in New Life BPC (London): Ps & Sis Ki. Special Prayer: Ministries in S’pore & Korea in Dec.

5. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.

6. God’s Comfort - Those in grief.

7. iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & Ordination - Pr HS Lim  (Melbourne, Vic).

8. IBPFM (USA) - Rev Keith Coleman & Board members; missionaries in India & South America.

9. Ps & Sis Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC. 

10. Journey mercies: Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo), Daniel Ki, Samuel Ki (Korea), Lucas Yiew (S’pore/Korea) & Raphael Ng (Goolwa/Adl); Sisters Heng Yee Cheah & Megan Lim (S’pore); Mr Tony & Sis May Zhang (HK/China); Mrs Chandra & Darion (Sri Lanka); & those who are travelling. 

11. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

12. Full-time Job - Sisters Michelle Lee (Melb) & Corinne Teng; & others looking for  stable jobs.

13. Unity in doctrine & fellowship of all B-P Churches

14. Final weeks of pregnancy: Sis Josephine Wong

15. Health in pregnancy - Sis Kerrie Lam

16. University students - preparation of assignments, thesis & end-of-year exams.

17. Believers under persecution in Islamic nations.

18. God’s guidance & future work in S’pore: Sisters Heng Yee Cheah & Gillian Ong.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063