From My Prayer Closet - Why People get tired of Prayer Meetings
The significance of Corporate and Personal Prayer lives in the Church
ZAMBIA - AFRICA
KALOMO IN PICTURES
From My Prayer Closet – Why People get tired of Prayer Meetings
If there are areas of inconsistency in our corporate lives as Christians, none beats prayer. Since the Lord called and raised me up to be that woman who will run with the vision of prayer for His people, I have observed other people and reflected on my own life in retrospect and how inconsistent we can all be when it comes to prayer.
We are willing to do anything and every thing in church but do not ask us to commit to corporate prayer. We can serve in any ministry but the Prayer ministry is a no go area. We just do not understand the significance of this kind of prayer in our lives. We thrive on opening and closing prayers in our gatherings. A true reflection I have observed is that, people who will commit and even make an attempt to corporate prayer are people who have thriving prayer lives, in other words who have matured in their ability to spend time with God alone. If a person appears in a prayer meeting and remains consistent, the chances are huge they have a private prayer life or God is doing a great work in their lives spiritually. Prayer lives are built in secret and shared corporately in that order.
But, why do we have this aversion to the gathering of the saints to pray? In this country in particular and even in my own country and other countries I know about, people cannot stand leaving everything to just sit and talk with a God they cannot see. They hardly know him and it is strange to spend time in His presence. They cannot go 5 minutes with an absent deity because it is strange. Then there is those who will just get bored stiff because they do not know what to do once on their knees (read my blog about what I do in my Prayer Closet and garner just a little of what keeps me on my knees in the presence of God). For most, prayer becomes boring because it is monotonous and we do not see results when we want to, our feelings of excitement abate and there is no more motivation for remaining in prayer. Read about my next blog about “what keeps me coming back to the Prayer Closet”.
An Example of Thriving Prayer
As a younger Christian in my late teens, I belonged to a young church that was hardly growing for reasons that God and only God knows. With our Pastor who must have been quite young, even if he looked much older to me then (him and his wife had two kids below 5, so they were really young), we had prayer meetings every Wednesday. We met to pray in any one of the homes that would open up. I never missed a single prayer meeting nor did the others who were consistent. On Sundays, we had group prayer (not just an opening prayer) as we started the day’s service. As the service progressed during the song service, we not only worshipped God in song but it was the ultimate time of praise, adoration, worship and sincere heartfelt prayer in which everyone of us could participate. Afterwards the Pastor always prayed before and after he delivered his message, also taking time to pray for the people who came to the altar with petitions, requests or to give their lives to the Lord. Then, there were scheduled overnight prayer meetings that were normally held at the Pastor’s house. Sometimes we fasted during these overnight prayers, at other times we had tea breaks. Overall, I experienced the importance and place of prayer in that church and I learnt a lot about prevailing prayers.
In spite of all this prayer, our young church had many struggles, financially there was not much coming in (I know this because I was the treasurer); in numbers, we were not really growing because our congregation kept fluctuating between 14 – 8 members, may be a little more, I am not very sure. But, we had a few very consistent members and we were a closely-knit family. Our Pastor was just himself, tending the sheep as best as he could, he was always there for Bible Study, Prayer meetings, Sunday evening service even if him and his wife had to walk long distances to where we met at a school in a classroom.
The church had acquired a plot and had a vision to erect a building. We prayerfully made burnt bricks, dug the foundation and tried to get a loan from the church headquarters, since our church was one of many that fell under this large body. The large body had a Bible School, trained Pastors and sent them out to plant churches that they in turn Pastored. Our Pastor had chosen to be in Kalomo because that was his hometown. Kalomo was a rural place still developing. The churches were pretty independent but did have activity going on with the church headquarters like when we applied for a loan to erect a church building when we learnt there was money available. We were loaned a large amount of money and the superintendent visited our church a long way from his hometown. He was a well-dressed elegant gentleman with grave manners (according to my assessment). He delivered a check that floored all of us because it was huge and enough to pay for most if not all our building expenses. The Superintendent, our pastor and I went to the bank together to deposit the check. My Pastor was very happy and in a meeting with the superintendent we had discussed how we would pay back the loan. The following day, the Superintendent left for his hometown. A few days later, the check had not cleared in our church bank account, on inquiry we learnt that it had been stopped by the Superintendent. My Pastor was crushed, it was no big deal for me but it hurt to see my Pastor go through such a horrible disappointment. We had been praying.
Well over the years, many things happened in that church, complaints from disgruntled members, slighting comments that really hurt me about my pastor from sisters and brothers I loved. An attempt at a split by trusted brothers, members who walked out of the church and left. But in all of this, my pastor seemed content, nothing changed him, we still prayed and carried on with our Christian work. With time, I left for college and never went back to that town even if I kept in touch. By the time I was getting married my pastor was sharing with me a new initiative and was asking members, former members to pledge amounts to build the church. I wanted nothing else more than to erect that church building myself.
By the time my first child was 6 years old, I had lost touch with my pastor and was too busy with other things in my life. Then one day at a large Billy Graham (Beyond Amsterdam 2000) event, I met my Pastor and his wife. They both looked elegant, healthy and blessed, more than I ever knew. I was beyond myself with joy. We invited them to our house and they came and spent a night with us. During that night I learnt the wonderful things God was doing in their lives. The church had grown to become one of the biggest and most thriving Pentecostal Churches in that little but growing town. My Pastor and his family now lived in a big beautiful house that God had blessed them with, it was their personal house! They were waiting for their SUV. And, Pastor told me he was now ready to move if God told Him so. Three years later, I met him and their first-born daughter who was now going into college and they were driving a vehicle of their own. I looked at the Pastor’s daughter admiringly and in my heart I agreed that she deserved to be driven all the way from that little town to this big city to get into college even if she could have used cheaper public transport. She deserved it because those kids had seen really hard times growing up.
Our Pastor had been spited slighted and jeered at by many including some of his peers (who were pastors) for all that he and his church went through. One thing pastor and the congregation never let off was prayer. Through the years, they prayed and believed God that one day the church in that town would grow, people would be won to Christ. We had evangelistic crusades in those years, did door to door evangelism and everything to win people to Christ. We prayed for the church to grow and the land to be broken for Christ. It took many years, more than 15, but God did it. I prayed almost every day for the next many years (even out of touch) that the church would one day be built
Through thriving prayer, God strengthened hearts, kept our Pastor and his family going, took care of daily needs, revived the land and eventually erected that building. That church is still growing and I know there were plans for expansion, a second story addition. May be it has already been done, if not, in His time, God will make all things beautiful and answer those prayers too!
I have seen churches that have thrived on prayer and many that I went to back in my country (Zambia, Southern Africa), did so earnestly trusting God, petitioning him, worshiping him and asking for intervention. Prayer was our faith in action and daily answered prayer our livelihood. We had living active relationships with God and He never was an outsider in our doings; never.
There is no greater commitment any people or congregation can give than to make their church a house of prayer, more than anything (structured Bible Studies, social evangelistic efforts like soup kitchens etc, get togethers, Vacation Bible School et al). In good times, we can believe that God is still in our midst because we can afford to pay electric bills, buy Sunday School material, host large events and even publish a lot of materials to get people through our church doors. The true test will come when the treasury dries up, our means become limited and there is not enough money to do all that we want to do to keep things going. Those who are driven by the spirit of the Lord on the other hand will keep going, trusting God through good and bad times.
The church of God in affluent communities may be thriving on natural structures and means not necessarily on God’s provision therefore we do not feel a need to particularly be close to or spend time with Him. We give Him lip service and walk into the banks or anywhere and get what we want. However, how many of us can say we will survive when these physical structures crumble? How many of us will proclaim that the work we are doing is enabled and sustained by God not the donor? How about our private and personal lives, how are we thriving?