Every fortnight we gather as a church on a Wednesday evening for intimate praise, heart felt adoration and passionate intercession.
But, what is the value of coming together in the middle of the week to worship & pray? If God knows our most intimate thoughts and desires, why do we need to come before Him in prayer?
We could ask: why does the stream need the spring, or the lover to speak to his beloved? Prayer is about coming into an intimate relationship and meeting with our Creator and Saviour. It is not so much about changing the mind of God; it is Christ changing us into effective agents for the bringing down of His kingdom from heaven to earth.
True intercession is a syncing of minds and spirits with the God of the universe and bringing heaven down to earth. Prayer as a private devotion is the powerhouse of the Christian, but prayer in community is the powerhouse of the church. Jesus said that when two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst (Mat 18:20); in the same chapter, Jesus speaks of the power of binding and releasing things in the heavenly places.
Jesus wants us to be a community of people who learn, like the woman at the well in Samaria, that Jesus is the only source of living water, and we have to come to Him and drink. Jeremiah pointed out two sins of God’s people: they had forsaken God the fountain of living waters, and hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13). Community prayer is the sign that we are not relying on our own wisdom and organisation as a community, but on the creative power of the Holy Spirit in everything we do as church together, working to His agenda, not ours.
I often think of prayer as coming into the throne room of God. Just as God’s people of old entered into the tabernacle with songs of joyous praise (see the Songs of Ascent in the Psalms 120-134), so we start with a beautiful time of sung worship and praise beautifully led by Martin for us, we enter through the gate into the Holy Place where the altar of incense burns: the prayers of the saints, and we walk through the curtain which was torn in two by the death and resurrection of Jesus, into the presence of the throne of Grace where we can bring our requests in confidence before our enthroned Father, hand in hand with our friend and Saviour Jesus, our high priest and friend of intercessors.
So will this little band of friends who meet together on a Wednesday evening change ourselves, our church and our town? I will leave you with a quotation from Spurgeon:
Our prayers are God’s decrees in another shape. The prayers of God’s people are but God’s promises breathed out of living hearts, and those promises are the decrees, only put into another form and fashion. Don’t say, “How can my prayers affect the predetermined will and plan of God?” They cannot, except in so much that your prayers are decrees, and that as they come out, every prayer that is inspired of the Holy Spirit to your soul is as omnipotent and as eternal as that decree which said, “Let there be light, and there was light;” ……You have power in prayer, and you stand today among the most potent ministers in the universe that God has made. You have power over angels, they will fly at your command. You have power over fire, and water, and the elements of the earth. You have power to make your voice heard beyond the stars; where the thunders die out in silence, your voice will wake the echoes of eternity. The ear of God himself will listen and the hand of God himself will yield to your will. He commands that you pray, “Your will be done,” and your will, will be done. When you can plead his promise then your will is his will.