Dear Church Family,
This week we will add two new weekly prayer meetings to the corporate life of our church. The Women’s Prayer Meeting begins tonight (February 12th) at the church, from 8:00-9:00 pm. Carol Morgan will be leading this weekly time of prayer for the women. And, beginning this coming Sunday (February 17th), all in the church are invited to the pastor’s home for a Sunday evening, weekly prayer meeting from 6:30-7:30 pm.
Women’s Prayer Meeting: Beginning on Tuesday, February 12th, Carol Morgan will be leading a weekly, Tuesday evening women’s prayer meeting at the church (8:00-9:00 pm) for those women who would like to attend.
Church-wide Prayer Meeting: Beginning on Sunday, February 17th, all who would like to participate are invited to the home of Pastor and Mrs. Dietsch (3608 Gulf Ave) for a weekly, Sunday evening prayer meeting at 6:30-7:30 pm; this prayer meeting is open to all men and women, young and old.
In the book of Acts, we find that corporate prayer was a central aspect of the life of the early church. After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the people of God – men and women – continually devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14). Upon the influx of over 3,000 souls into the church on the day of Pentecost, new and old believers gathered together “continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Prayer was also an important element in the early church’s bearing up under persecution (Acts 4).
This is just a brief survey from the opening chapters of the book of Acts of how prayer was a central part of the life of the early church, but we could go on. Continuing throughout the book of Acts we are shown examples of how the first Christians were in the habit of gathering to pray together. Likewise, the letters of the New Testament are replete with exhortations for God’s people to “devote themselves to prayer” (e.g., Romans 12:12; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Colossians 4:2).
In keeping with this emphasis on the importance of prayer, our own Westminster Standards speak of three outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to His church the benefits of redemption: the word, sacraments, and prayer (WLC 154; WSC 88). And, while saving faith is ordinarily wrought by the Spirit of Christ by the ministry of the word, our faith is increased and strengthened by all three outward and ordinary means of grace: the word, sacraments, and prayer. In the worship services of our church, we emphasize these outward and ordinary means of grace by giving significant time to the reading and preaching of God’s word, weekly participation in the Lord’s supper, and multiple times of prayer throughout each service.
At the same time, something that I’ve long thought that was missing in the corporate life of our church is a weekly prayer meeting. In thinking about this, I recently ran across and re-read an article by Paul Levy entitled, “Why is a central Prayer Gathering in a church so important.” Paul Levy is the pastor of International Presbyterian Church in London, and in that article he lists and explains nine reasons why a corporate prayer meeting is important for the life of a church:
(1) It tells us that God is God.
(2) It reminds us that Salvation is in God’s hands.
(3) It tells us that we are not on our own.
(4) There is something that unites us together when we pray together.
(5) The devil hates to see people pray.
(6) Prayer is a means of grace.
(7) Prayer humbles us.
(8) Praying together reminds me that there is a world out there.
(9) Prayer reminds me that God is Trinity.
The Westminster Larger Catechism defines prayer as “an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit; with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies” (WLC 178). God’s word exhorts individual believers to pray at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18), and I hope you will join us as we gather together as God’s people to offer up our desires to God, confess our sins, and give thanks to the Lord for all His mercies.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch