I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about how the early church did certain things. In all honesty, I have not been spending tremendous amounts of time studying public worship, because I know the facts of how they worshiped on the Lord’s Day (and I would not change those things!). What I have been thinking about is what they did on other days. Are we emulating their faith and practices in our daily life?
For example, one aspect that has been on my mind quite often is the prevalence of meeting together to pray. I can’t help but think of Acts 12. As Peter, a brother in Christ, was in prison, the church met in a home to pray for his safety and release.
The problem with the usual way of studying this chapter is that we often jump to the part (Acts 12:14-15) where Rhoda heard Peter’s voice, reported on it to the group, and they didn’t believe that it could possibly be Peter…though that was what they had been praying for! The reason I say this is a “problem” is that we fail to see the other lesson. Yes, there is a lesson there about the lack of faith we often have. That is a lesson that needs to be presented from this section of Scripture.
When that is all we see, though, we miss one very important fact about the early church: they were meeting together just to pray!
As far as we can tell, this was not a Sunday. There was no church building, per se. But these brothers and sisters saw a need, and felt compelled to come together to pray fervently for a long period of time. Rarely do I hear of that happening in the same way today.
So, let me offer some general thoughts on this concept that I’ve been thinking of lately.
1. It doesn’t take some “church program” to have such a meeting. This was not a Sunday night service, nor did they need a planning committee for a midweek Bible study to “script” the night. All it took was someone willing to open their home to the brethren to pray.
2. It doesn’t have to be the entire congregation. I’m not advocating “splintering” the church, but whoever would like to come, and whoever can come, should be welcome. Some like to spend their time in private moments of prayer, while others like to get together in moments of crisis or triumph. Both are fine, and both are Scriptural.
3. It needs to be fervent and focused. This is not a “get-together” where prayers just happen to be led, too. This is time in which the congregation meets to think about a specific need, desire, or tragedy. The prayers need to be focused on those needs, and whoever is opening their home does not have to worry about having a big banquet or refreshments. Those present are there to refresh their souls, not their bellies.
4. It needs to be done in faith. That, obviously, was part of the struggle of those in Acts 12, but it can be our struggle as well. If we do not think God can deal with the issue at hand, why pray about it? Instead, have faithful men lead prayers of faith to a God who is ever-faithful!
Let me clearly state: I am not advocating replacing corporate worship on the Lord’s Day. I am also not against special congregational prayer meetings (in fact, I love them, and wish we did them more often!).
What I am stating is that we need to be a family of God’s people, willing to meet anywhere at anytime to pray for any need.
Why do you think we struggle to pray together like this anymore?
What other suggestions would you give?