It is an incredible reality to be linked with the God of heaven in an eternal relationship. One of the essential parts of a healthy, vibrant relationship is communication. It would be a poor friendship if the conversation was always one-sided. So it is with your relationship with God. He speaks directly to you through His Word and desires to hear back from you in prayer.
Sometimes people try to limit prayer to a certain time, performed in a specific position, and characterized by a prescribed manner. Prayer is far more than this. While having a place to pray privately is important, prayer should be the continual ongoing conversation between Christians and their heavenly Father. As a child of God you live in His presence and prayer is the expression of that reality.
In His teaching on prayer in John 14:13-14, the Lord seems to give His followers carte blanche: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.” On the surface, this sounds like a signed check for fulfilling all the desires of believers. Some leaders use this passage to teach a “name it and claim it” theology. They promise that if you try to live for God, you can just ask and God will give you everything you want – expensive vacations, a Lamborghini, a mansion, etc. But, this is not what He is saying. He is not telling us that prayer is like a child’s birthday wish list. Prayer is a position of dependence upon God. It is recognizing His sovereignty and greatness, and your own smallness. It is taking your needs and concerns to Him and submitting to God’s will for your life.
Prayer is bowing your heart to God and allowing Him to work His will in you for His glory. Asking “in His name” means that it is under His authority and in line with His will. Sometimes there is greater glory to be brought to God through your suffering, than through your healing. Material possessions and other things you may desire could turn your heart from seeking Him. The more intimate your relationship with God, the more your desires will line up with God’s desires for you, and John 14:13-14 will become a reality in your life.
If your public participation in prayer is not a continuation of what you are in private before God then it is merely a sham. You have the privilege of lifting up the specific burden of your heart for your assembly to God. If you go to the prayer meeting without a specific burden on your heart, you may fail to pray, ramble in your praying, or copy what others pray. You need to be exercised about either children’s outreach, gospel work, missionaries, local workers, or unsaved friends. A burden gets into your soul and becomes a part of who you are; your prayers will definitely reflect this.
In Matthew 6 the Lord Jesus warns His followers not to be like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray long prayers so that others can see and hear them. Long exhaustive prayer will kill a meeting. When brethren feel the need to touch every issue and every subject, they leave saints either sleeping or wondering what’s left for prayer. Most assemblies have plenty of men to lead in prayer. If those who pray were shorter and more concise, it would leave time for those who would like to pray but hesitate and miss their opportunity because of time restraints.
It is quite refreshing in a fifteen minute prayer meeting prior to the gospel meeting to hear all the brothers pray specifically with focus and true burden for the gospel about to be preached. If it can happen in that setting, then it can happen in the midweek meeting as well. Praying specifically for the burden God has placed on your heart will help the Christians to stay focused as you pray and they will be encouraged when God grants those requests. Remember to ask in faith, and then thank Him for answered prayer.
It is possible that some of the silences in our prayer meetings are because of a lack of intimacy with God. Sin causes distance between us and God. Without constant guarding against evil and continual confession of sin, we become cold in heart and allow sin to destroy closeness with Him. In 1 Timothy 2 we are reminded to pray with holy hands. In Psalm 15 David asks, “Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Prayer is a holy activity that requires reality before God.
Please do not think that your presence at the weekly assembly prayer meeting doesn’t matter. Not only is the Lord Jesus present, but we are joining together as a company of believers who recognize our great weakness and humbly seek God’s power to work among us. It is a time of sharing with one another in our need before God’s presence. Your desire to be there, whether you are a brother praying audibly or a sister praying silently, is an indication of your heart before God and He will honor this greatly. Be careful not to judge those who cannot make it. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren; you don’t want to do his work for him.
Prayer is an act of faith. To the unbelieving mind it is foolishness to believe that our prayers reach God in heaven and move His heart. You know that when you approach God in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ you are there in His presence and He, the Almighty, eternal God, hears every request. Stand firmly on God’s promises and be patient in faith as you wait for God to answer your prayers. You have a great and mighty God Who not only hears but delights to answer your prayers in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. The assembly prayer meeting is your opportunity to lead God’s people in the holy privilege of prayer.