“Cancel everything but prayer.”
One of the most uplifting experiences I’ve had at St Philips was the last 5pm prayer meeting (held every 4th Sunday). It was so good to be in the Lord’s presence together. The following article from Eternity magazine highlights the importance of prayer.
“Recently retired church planting veteran David Jones has a drop-everything-and-pray approach to congregational prayer. When the Welsh-born Presbyterian minister is asked about the role of prayer in his 40 years of church ministry, Jones invokes the words of Dutch Christian, Corrie Ten Boom: ‘Prayer should be the steering wheel, not the spare tyre.’
‘Nothing can be achieved without prayer, so it should take priority over everything in our church programs,’ says Jones. A congregational prayer meeting was a key to success in all five churches he planted and the two he revitalised.
When scheduling prayer meetings, Jones took the radical step of cancelling every other church activity that week – including the Sunday service. He says this raised the profile of the prayer meeting, making it ‘the place no-one wants to miss out on.’ This approach saw numbers at the monthly prayer meeting at his church increase from a handful of faithfuls to around 80 people – almost one-third of all church members.
Noting the particular emphasis on corporate prayer in the early church, as shown in the Book of Acts, Jones explains, ‘in the history of the church there is a clear connection between extraordinary congregational praying and revival.’ He gives the example in Acts 4, where after Peter and John are released from prison, the whole church gets together to pray the words of Psalm 2.
In the same way, Jones endorses ‘kingdom-centred’ congregational prayer; that is, ‘focused praying for conversions’ and for ‘the advance of God’s kingdom in the world’. ‘It is so easy for us to slip away from that and become preoccupied with our own personal needs and struggles. Of course God cares about that and we should bear one another’s burdens in prayer, but this message of the kingdom must be taken to every ethnic group and people… That’s what should drive our praying.’
‘It’s possible for us to be carried along by the momentum of our own programmes and ministries with a show of success, without prayer, so people don’t pray,’ says Jones. ‘You can build a church like a McDonalds franchise and appear to be doing the Lord’s work, but is Christ building his church? We want instant results so we give up when we should prevail in prayer, looking for God to work.’”