There are unmistakable biblical markers of what a New Testament church should be doing when they gather together. There are sure things that ought to cause a New Testament church to gather together. (1) Preaching, (2) Singing, (3) Caring for each other (especially for widows and orphans in distress), (4) Baptizing converts, (5) Eating, (6) Proclaiming the Lord’s death, and (7) Praying.
The faithful church is sure to want to keep true in all of her duties. But, as warned by the Apostles, certain individuals have crept in and have been successful at times to redirect the efforts of the church in other ways.
It makes since when you think about it.
- The enemy of God knows the power of preaching Scripture. Because of the power of the word of God, the enemy of God wants preachers to preach anything and everything but truth.
- The enemy of God knows that God has created men to sing. Singing is ordained of God for corporate proclamations and declarations of God and to God. If the enemy of God can get men to love songs more than they love God then the corporate proclamations and declarations are at risk of being of another god altogether and men won’t care because they love the music.
- The enemy of God knows what true religion looks like. The bible is clear on this matter. Because the enemy of God hates true religion he will want to divert the resources of God’s people away from the care of orphans and widows in distress. He’ll put attractive and popular ministries in front of them and persuade us to direct most of our resources upon ourselves, satisfying that selfish craving of the old man.
- The enemy of God loves to confuse people about their salvation. Salvation is a work of the grace of God not the works of men. But take the ordinances of God and make them something that looks like conversion and makes many think the church is growing and men will brag about how many are being baptized and have access to the Lord’s table and forget altogether about the spiritual birth of a new man and we no longer know what or how salvation is even given to the sons of men.
- The enemy of God knows that God calls His peculiar people to gather at the house of prayer for prayer. Because he knows this, it makes sense that he would be pleased to make God’s people more in love with activities that make us too busy to pray together. It’s been said by many before, that if the enemy can’t reclaim you from the power of the blood of Christ then he’ll be pleased to make you busy. It appears that many professing believers in the land are either false professors or are very busy.
If any church in any given community were to announce this coming Lord’s Day that it will no longer hold corporate prayer meetings many professing Christians could care less. They may even wish the church would do so so they don’t have to feel guilt about not attending and praying together. But that’s not really the point of my observation here; many churches have practically closed the prayer gathering by filling up the church calendar with so much activity that many churches have practically no corporate prayer times anymore.
What would any community look like if there was not a praying people praying on behalf of the community at large? Why would a professing follower of God not want to obey His Lord and gather for prayer? If professing followers of God are either too busy or just generally not interested in this commanded duty of our Lord, what has their attention that they are willing to set this command aside and disobey God willfully. What god are many churches following if they are willing to willfully disobey their professed Lord?
Here’s what happens to many across the land…
- Your favorite T.V. program will be moved to Wednesday night.
- Your boss will reschedule you to work on Sunday’s and prayer meeting night.
- Your school will schedule important events on these nights.
- Your children will complain about the prayer time as boring. (because you agree you will concede.)
- More people will come to an active program if you provide an option. Look at most churches that offer multiple things at the same time as the prayer meeting, the other activities will outpace the attendance of the prayer meeting and will eventually need everyone in the prayer meeting to help with crowd control for the “attractive” activities.
The community God has planted His church in should be (1) Preaching, (2) Singing, (3) Caring for each other (especially for widows and orphans in distress), (4) Baptizing converts, (5) Eating, (6) Proclaiming the Lord’s death, and (7) Praying. Yet, in many communities across the land, churches are going another way. A way that transplants a powerful church in a community with a powerless not-a-church.
What then should we do?
Repent of our willful distractions and gather with the Lord’s people to pray. Church, this church gathers every Wednesday night for prayer at 6:30 p.m. we don’t provide any other distractions or attractions to capture our attention. It is a quite simple gathering. We read Scripture and we pray. The church described to us by the the work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts met at specific places and specific times on specific days to pray.
Prayer isn’t just something we start and close a meeting with, it’s something we should gather to do!
Church, arise! To you post! To your duty! To your God! Don’t let your community have a prayer-less church filled with prayer-less professors of Christ’s Lordship.