Are these statements true in your community, or is it just true in mine? Think of all the communal activities you are doing in your home church.
- Almost all Christians go to church to listen to sermons/messages.
- Substantial number of believers attend bible studies or fellowships to grow in their faith.
- Several devotees offer their extra time and effort to serve as ushers, praise and worship team members, Sunday school teachers, etc.
- Only a small percentage of church members attend prayer meetings.
Today’s message in church made me ponder about prayers, specifically corporal praying time. How come only a few people attend it? As I reflect about it (I do not attend prayer meetings), these are the possible “reasons” or “excuses” I come up with:
- I don’t know how to pray publicly. It is one thing to pray directly to God, it is another thing to pray with someone who can hear you–is my grammar correct? Did i remember everything? Am I cohesive? Did I say the right things?
- Why attend prayer meeting when I can talk to God directly? My prayer should just be between me and God and it is too intimate to share with others.
- I bet only the pastors, elders and deacons will be there. They are the ones “required” to go, right?
- I believe it is the task of the older generation to attend such, particularly the women. I will just be out-of-place.
- It is not important enough for me to devote my time to.
- I do not have the gift of tongues.
See how creative we can be when it comes to making excuses?
It is important to know that prayer meeting is not a formal gathering. In my experience, it is a gathering of volunteers who are willing to act as intercessors: All the concerns of the church or the organization will be in a list, and there will be a brief discussion explaining each item. Then, you will be tasked to group into 2 or more people. There may or may not be a brief sharing of personal matters then, and after that, you divide off the list and start praying to God directly, one at a time or “popcorn” (all together at once), each talking to God intimately.
Intimidating? Yes it is–if you do not have regular communication with God. But if you do pray to God regularly, you may find a deeper meaning in corporal prayer, where the family of God pray together, at the same time, for the same purpose.
Most of the time, we do not know what we should say when it comes to prayer, but keep in mind that when we speak out loud, we are talking to God, and not to the people we are praying with. It is ok to keep things short and straight to the point. It is ok not to use religious terms, and speak straight from your heart. It is ok to burst into a song of worship, open your eyes, stammer, or read from a piece of paper. The heart and the sincerity of your prayer are more important than “sounding good” and “being correct.”
One way to learn how to pray is to read the Bible. There are a lot of prayer samples there, but it doesn’t mean that we should recite them verbatim. When we close our eyes, and concentrate on talking to Him, the Holy Spirit will work in us and teach us what to say. The Bible is God’s way of communicating to us. Prayer is our way of communicating to Him. Isn’t it amazing that we can do this anytime, all the time?
For those who are new with prayer, here is a simple guideline I learned from our church: A.C.T.S.
1. Adoration: We can start our prayer with praises and compliments — telling God what we know to be true (e.g. Holy, Faithful, Just, Merciful, Awesome, Dependable, Good friend, etc.).
2. Confession: We tell God about the things we have done wrong, and He is there to listen to us admit repentance over the sins we have committed (e.g. I am sorry for losing my temper every time I drive).
3. Thanksgiving: Reflect on the things God have made possible for you and offer Him your genuine gratitude. (e.g. thank you that despite my shortcomings, You still make sure I am safe and sound).
4. Supplication: The Bible said, “ask, and you shall receive.” This is the part of the prayer where we can do that. Do not be afraid to ask for the things you need, for He is a great provider. We should also not put God in a box and let Him work according to what we want. He is in control–let Him deal with the details. (e.g. teach me on how to become a better driver).
End you prayer by using Jesus’ name, for it is only because of what Jesus has done that we can talk directly to the Father.
After writing this, I would like to pray to God now:
Thank you for being such a powerful God that you are in control of everything, be it the weather or the events that happen in our lives. I am sorry for not being serious about my prayer time. Despite that, You still care for me, and still love me and I appreciate that. Teach me to honor You more by prioritizing time spent with You. Teach me to love my church and attend our prayer meeting. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.