Perhaps you identify with John Stevens when he writes:
“It is one of the weaknesses of my kind of evangelicalism that we can so over-emphasise the importance of preaching and teaching that we unintentionally marginalize the importance of prayer. We ought, I suspect, to have a more even balance between studying and hearing the Word proclaimed and prayer in our quiet times, small groups and services. How often prayer is reduced to a rather perfunctory few minutes of led intercession. Perhaps we need to reconsider how we can structure our meetings to make prayer central, rather than shifting prayer to a separate meeting which few can, or will, attend. We need to teach and model prayer to the whole body, not allow it to become the preserve of the faithful few.”
Acts 2:42 says the disciples were devoted to prayer; would anyone visiting your church, coming to your home groups, being a part of your Sunday gatherings come to the conclusion that you and your church are devoted to prayer?
I have to confess, that in the first church I led and planted, my honest answer would have been ‘no’. Of course there were prayer meetings, seasons of intense prayer and moments when more than the few were caught up in seeking the Lord. But on the whole, no. Lots of reasons and few excuses. Mostly, it reflected my own struggles with prayer.
Here in Stockholm, from the outset, it has been our intention to work prayer in as a central aspect to our life together. We have made Acts 2:42 the guiding principle for what we do. As a small group we focus on four things: the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. Although we have much work to do, particularly with breaking of bread.
So when we gather mid-week we have just two main themes. Worship & prayer. Our plans for growth, we hope, will stem from multiplying these groups and so as you become part of the church by belonging there, you will be introduced to a group that prays. In that case we will be less dependent on a ‘prayer meeting’ because we will already be a praying church and when we gather everyone to pray, hopefully many will come because well that’s what we do anyway!
We want, like John, for prayer to be a whole church activity and ‘not the preserve of the faithful few’. We want to be ‘devoted to prayer’ because we are devoted to the one we pray to.