At the onset of summer our church began holding weekly Sunday evening prayer services. Until that time, our regular gatherings were on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and every third Sunday evening of the month, so my entire married life I’ve used the majority of my Sunday evenings to prepare my weekly calendar, menu, and grocery list and to take a walk or watch a movie with my family. I must admit, when the idea of a weekly Sunday evening service arose about a year ago, part of me was less than thrilled about having to give up my peaceful, relaxing Sunday evenings in order to meet with the church body a second time on the Lord’s Day. While I was skeptical of a weekly evening service, I was still supportive and willing to give it a fair try before making any judgments (mainly because my husband was one of the main forces behind its implementation).
I arrived at the first prayer service not knowing what to expect but was quickly captivated by the open, unhindered worship of the Lord—not unhindered in a chaotic sort of way, but in a raw, real, and vulnerable sort of way. This church gathering was different: intimate, simple, unrefined. After attending these weekly prayer services for the last month, I can honestly say Sunday evening gatherings have become one of the most anticipated events of my week. Here are three reasons I love our church’s new prayer services:
- The heart of our church is exposed. These services have brought a unique opportunity to learn about the different ministries of our church body as well as hear the hearts of the individuals within. Although I can’t actively serve in every ministry of our church, as a church member I do get to participate in praying for those we send out to minister the Word of God to others through such avenues as the prison or the nursing home. By hearing the testimonies of people involved in various ministries of our church, I now know specific ways to help and pray for these ministries, and I get to hear of the work the Lord is doing in these ministries through my church family.
- Openness, honesty, and intimacy are present. Picture this: Voices young and old singing hymns in four-part harmony to the praise of our Savior accompanied only by a piano, grown men weeping in thankfulness and humble adoration of the Lord as they share a testimony of His amazing grace in their lives, and hearts poured out in earnest prayer for a lost world that’s never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a beautiful and tangible way, God is using these prayer services to grow our church body closer to one another as we each grow closer to Christ.
- Dependence upon the Lord is displayed. Solomon wrote: “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Gathering as one body in corporate prayer shows an utter reliance upon God for all that happens within our church. Just as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that though he planted the seed and Apollos watered it, it was God who gave the growth, so we must also be reminded that any growth, any good gift, is given from God (James 1:17). Indeed, thrusting ourselves upon our sovereign God is our only hope as we seek to bring Him glory in all that’s done within our church body.
I am so thankful for these Sunday evening prayer services. For me, it’s like the Lord has just revealed the missing piece to the puzzle in the life of our church. My church family is a precious, treasured gift that I don’t take lightly, and praying corporately to our Heavenly Father is a wonderful blessing that cannot be replaced.
“Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray.” ~Charles Spurgeon