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The Prayer Meeting: Birthplace of a Growing Church

What is the role of prayer in the church and in evangelism?

by Andrew Davis on December 14, 2021

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." - Acts 2:42

 

One of most striking things that comes from the first half of the Book of Acts is how incredibly important was the prayer meeting of the church. Acts 1 shows the church united in prayer waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit Christ promised would come upon them “in a few days” (Acts 1:5). In Acts 1:14, it says they were continually devoting themselves to prayer as they waited on the Lord to pour out His precious Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, the whole church, including the three thousand converts who were added on the Day of Pentecost devoted themselves constantly to prayer. In Acts 3, it was while Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer, at three in the afternoon, that they healed a lame beggar, which resulted in a major and fruitful opportunity to preach the gospel and win more precious souls to Christ. After the healing, Peter and John were arrested and threatened with punishment if they should continue preaching the gospel. Upon their release, they went back to their own people and immediately they had a marvelous prayer meeting in which they prayed based on the sovereignty of God, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the present circumstances of persecution. And “after they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).

The apostles refused to turn away from their primary calling of “prayer and the ministry of the word” to wait on tables for widows, as important a ministry as that was (Acts 6:4). Personal prayer marks the chapters from 7-10 including Stephen while being stoned (Acts 7), Philip and the apostles with the new church in Samaria (Acts 8), Saul of Tarsus after his Damascus Road experience (Acts 9), Cornelius and Peter (Acts 10). Then in Acts 12 the group prayer meeting resurfaces when Peter was arrested by Herod and about to be executed. It says “the whole church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5). After God answered their prayers by sending an angel who rescued Peter from prison, the first place he went was to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where “many people had gathered and were praying” (Acts 12:12). It was while the church at Antioch was worshiping the Lord and praying that the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” That work was the first of Paul’s three missionary journeys that changed the world forever. The first church in Europe (in Philippi) began at a women’s prayer meeting by a river and they continued for a short time to meet there (Acts 16:13, 16). And it was in that same town that Paul and Silas had a two-man prayer meeting in the Philippian jail that led to the spectacular conversion of the jailer and his family. The elders of Ephesus sent Paul off after kneeling with him as a group and praying (Acts 20:36). The same thing happened with the church at Tyre (Acts 21:5).


"So, we can see that the church was born in a prayer meeting and was nurtured through its earliest years in the same way."


So, we can see that the church was born in a prayer meeting and was nurtured through its earliest years in the same way. That early church was powerfully effective in evangelism and in advancing the name and glory of Jesus Christ. The central desire of my heart is to see churches be more evangelistically through the power of prayer than ever been before. Pour out your heart that you personally will lead people to Christ. Pour out your heart for Christ to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Do it in your private place of prayer (Matthew 6:6). But do it also in the prayer meeting at your local church.

Tags: prayer, ministry

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