The Heartbeat of the Church

Paul Miller, author of A Praying Church, shares the following story:

“An East Indian evangelist described his first experience at an American prayer meeting. He was visiting a megachurch known, even in India, for the pastor’s outstanding preaching. He was thrilled when the pastor invited the three thousand Sunday worshipers to the midweek prayer meeting. The pastor even shared that something was “heavy on his heart” for prayer.

The evangelist couldn’t wait. In India, the prayer meeting was the heartbeat of the church, where you stormed the heavens, often far into the night. The designated prayer chapel seated only five hundred, so he arrived early to get a seat. But at the designated 7:00 p.m. start time, he was alone. At 7:15, puzzled and still alone, he wondered if he had the wrong location, so he went outside to check the name. Yes, it was the same chapel the pastor mentioned on Sunday. Finally, at 7:30 a few people straggled in, chatting about sports and weather until the leader arrived at 7:45. The leader shared a short devotional with the seven attendees, prayed briefly, and closed the meeting. The evangelist was stunned. No worship. No crying out to God for help. No senior pastor. What was heavy on the pastor’s heart? What about prayer for the sick, for the lost? No one in this story thought that corporate prayer is important: not the senior pastor (he didn’t show up), the congregation (only seven came), or the prayer leader (he was forty-five minutes late and only had one brief prayer). Prayer was a mere window dressing. If you doubt something, you don’t think it works, so you don’t use it. No one here thought prayer works. Unbelief is as practical as faith.”

In many western churches, the prayer meeting has become extinct, while believers in Asia and Africa have all night prayer meetings consistently. We enlightened western Christians talk about prayer, preach about prayer, write books and have conferences about prayer (led by the latest hot Christian celebrity, of course), but we don’t pray. If you want to hold a prayer meeting or conference, sideline the teaching, shut down the worship band, and put everyone on their knees.

Last month we had our second night of prayer. It was wonderful, powerful. The presence of God was moving in our midst. Several themes emerged that were connected. We had attendees from Asia, the US, and Europe. Weaknesses and struggles were shared and we prayed for each other. There was Scripture reading and one guy broke out into song. For four hours we stormed the throne of grace, petitioning God for healing for the sexually broken, marriages, that He would make His churches houses of prayer, and other situations.

When I left the office I felt like I had been soaked in the Holy Spirit, encountered God, been filled with His peace and strength, and bonded to my brothers and sisters who prayed with us.

My friends, that is a church service.

We will have our next night of prayer on Friday, June 14, 10:00pm-2:00am, US Central time.

As before, we will pray for the following, in addition to whatever else God may bring up:

* The sharing of needs and praying for each other.
* That the walls of pride, fear, and arrogance that blind the church from facing its sin, especially sexual sin, would come down, and for conviction and repentance.
* Rescue and healing for those in bondage in sin, especially sexual sin, including healing for wives.
* Marriages and youth.
* For God to move in the porn industry.
* That God’s people would be provoked to prayer. We need prayer meetings fired up in every church, every day of the week.
* For new ground, especially in the sexual arena where the enemy continues to destroy lives.
* Specific situations we’re involved with in the US and abroad.
* Unity.

Scripture reading, waiting in silence, and worship will be a part of our time together. Any person from any country who speaks English and has a heart for prayer is welcome. You’re welcome to participate as long as you like; stay for an hour, or the whole four hours. I’m planning on being involved the entire four hours. We will begin promptly at 10:00PM Central time. If you want to come and pray silently instead of out loud, this is fine.

If you’d like to participate, please contact us and we’ll send you the zoom link.

Paul Miller writes the following about the pastor in the story shared at the top:
“The megachurch pastor who announced the prayer meeting as if it were a high value but didn’t show up didn’t just devalue the prayer meeting. He sent a mixed message to the congregation. His words said one thing, but his actions another. Jesus calls that hypocrisy. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus singles out prayer as a “hot spot” for hypocrisy (Matt 6:5-6). There is nothing worse for a Jesus community than looking Spiritual on the outside but being hollow on the inside. Hypocrisy in leaders creates cynicism in followers.”

Paul wrote an article called Who Killed the Prayer Meeting? I encourage you to read it. Whether you participate in our night of prayer or not, I challenge you to make prayer meetings a consistent part of your life, just as the early church did.

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 4:29-31

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was fervently praying to God for him. On the night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, with sentries standing guard at the entrance to the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists”
Acts 12:5-7

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