None of us needs another excuse to skip our church’s prayer meeting. We have more than enough: we’re busy, it’s difficult to wrangle the kids, it’s dark and we don’t feel like going out again, we’ve got an early appointment the next day, or we’re scared of being asked to pray in front of others.
What we need instead are a few reasons for going. I’ve listed five below. I hope they motivate you to get out the door, go to the prayer meeting, and get on your knees with God’s people.
1. Prayer makes God smile.
Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual for every decision we face. We spend most of our time navigating the nebulous gray, relying on wisdom from above. But isn’t it satisfying when we can know for certain that what we’re doing pleases God and meets with his approval? First Peter 3:12 says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” In a week filled with choices we may look back on and question, we need not doubt whether God is pleased with the time we spend in prayer with his people. He loves to hear our prayers and praises.
2. Prayer strengthens our faith.
Hearing others pray can inspire us and bolster our trust in God’s promises. In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. . . . The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”
None of us needs another excuse to skip our church’s prayer meeting. What we need instead are a few reasons for going.
On more than one occasion, I’ve been disinterested in prayer at a prayer meeting. But God often does a wonderful thing: he works through the imperfect petitions of another dear saint to wake me out of my spiritual slumber and fill me again with confidence in his good sovereignty. Left to ourselves, we may doubt God’s ability or grow discouraged in our faith, but to see faith alive in the prayer of another reminds us we believe no fantasy. God is real, powerful, and good, and that makes us want to pray.
3. Prayer is more caught than taught.
The prayer meeting is one of the best places to go if you want to learn how to pray. If Steven Spielberg wasn’t always at the movies as a young kid, would he have grown up to be an iconic, Oscar-winning filmmaker? Composers go to concerts. Authors read books. Athletes play pickup games at the Y. When we want to get better at something, we surround ourselves with others who know what they’re doing. The same is true for prayer. The church’s prayer meeting provides an invaluable opportunity for us to learn how to speak to God from other godly saints. When we see how they weave Scripture into their praises, or how they wrestle honestly with their petitions, we’ll come to do the same.
4. Prayer fuels the church.
Paul was aware of his need and wasn’t shy in making it known to the church. He fully expected they’d keep him uplifted before the Lord in earnest petition (Eph. 6:19; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1). Paul was confident the prayers of God’s people would sustain him through the rigors of ministry and the trials of life. Why should we presume to find success apart from that same kind of intercession from the saints? Charles Spurgeon understood this well. When some ministers visited his thriving Metropolitan Tabernacle, they asked about his secret to success. In response, he took them to the basement “boiler” room where a small group had gathered in prayer. Spurgeon said the secret was simple: “My people pray for me.”
5. Prayer works.
Most importantly, let’s remember prayer isn’t an empty exercise in religious ritual. When we come to God in faith, it’s as though we tap into his cosmic power (1 John 5:14–15)—God is pleased to work out his eternal will as an answer to the prayers of people like you and me (James 5:17). What a marvel! God may use our prayers to grant healing, encouragement, comfort, victory over sin, growth in spiritual virtues, and success in ministry. If for no other reason, prayer is worth it because it works.
These reasons mean attending your church’s prayer meeting is never a waste of time.