Observations on Prayer Meetings

"Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not."

By DELMAR P. WOOD, Pastor, Middletown, New York

These are the words of a man who had spent the night away from his father's home: "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not." Apparently alone, Jacob received a wonderful revelation from God, which stood by him the remaining days of his life. The place was a desert, a lonely spot. It was here that he heard the voice of God. It was a call to greater devotion and faithfulness to God's great plan for him in life. Here he resolved and pledged to follow his Lord.

Many of our churches may be likened to a desert, because their members fail to commune with God. They have substituted the material in the place of the spiritual. This has mani­fested itself in a lack of interest in the midweek prayer service.

To save the church, God is calling His family to assemble for united prayer. There is no bet­ter place than the prayer meeting. He desires that -each member become better acquainted with Him, and with one another in fellowship and prayer. Here all are to listen carefully for the voice of God. The times demand that we aim more for the spiritual things of life, and that we assemble for prayer. This is a call to ministers and people alike.

The one conducting the service may be dull and uninteresting. He may seem to lack the power to set men on fire. The songs sung may not be the best choice. Those present may not be particular friends. The place may be likened to a desert, a dreary spot. Remember God is there. Wherever His word is read, His voice can be heard.

I remember a certain prayer meeting that I attended. The room was well filled, but as the meeting progressed, it seemed that the speak­er's words were wasted. To all appearances they had no effect upon the congregation. To the speaker the meeting seemed a failure. When a call for testimony was given there was an awful silence. Those who usually responded kept silent. Finally a man arose and said, "I have enjoyed this sefvice. Tonight I see that I am a sinner." Faces in the congregation began to brighten, and the meeting took on new life. Tears were shed. An 'Amen" was heard. The man, closing his testimony, said, "I give my heart to God." A meeting that appeared to be likened to a desert rejoiced and blossomed as the rose. Quick responses in testimony were made by others present. Surely God was in this place.

Both young people and the adults should at­tend the prayer meeting. In some places I have seen as many young people in attendance as adults. Their testimony, telling of their deter­mination to stand for truth, is always helpful. They have brought something new into the service; a new development in their Christian character is seen. It is most interesting to watch this growth.

There are the prayer meeting killers. They are the ones who have no new experience to relate. They are like the boy who visited again a home where he had been before. This day at dinnertime, when the food was being served, the boy said, "This is the same old stuff we had when we were here before." We need a daily experience in the things of God. Our experi­ences expressed in words will bring new life and new faces to the prayer service. Such may be called prayer meeting builders.

It must be remembered that everyone present casts an influence in the service. A writer has said, "The greatest influence for good that you can wield in the world is by your personal ex­ample." Your own steady devotion to high ideals will do more to encourage and help other men than any verbal counsel you can offer. The effect of a great example cannot be fully estimated, since it often influences men uncon­sciously.

The success of the prayer meeting does not always depend upon the one in charge. We generally get out of a meeting what we put into it. If we do not put our hearts, our prayers, our consecration, into it, it will be tedious and dry.

We are told, "All who are pursuing the on­ward Christian course, should have, and will have, an experience that is living, that is new and interesting."—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 579. What better place is there to find this than at the weekly prayer meeting?

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By DELMAR P. WOOD, Pastor, Middletown, New York

March 1947

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