During January 3rd’s evening service we broke from our normal routine to get on our knees and dedicate 2016 to God with a prayer meeting. It is our hope that as a congregation we pray more than ever in 2016. Too often do we take prayer for granted and not even consider the magnitude of what we are actually doing. If you need help preparing you heart before prayer, read Revelation 4, where John gets a glimpse of the throne room and then tries his best to describe it. Remember that this is the very throne we bow before every time we approach God in prayer.
Sunday night, Pastor Wes and Youth Leader Nathan Mathis shared a reading of different occasions throughout history where a prayer meeting began a great work of God. Here are those different occasions for you to review and grasp a deeper understanding of the power of prayer:
“IT WAS JUST A PRAYER MEETING”
The first major focus of the early church was prayer—not fear of persecution, administrative challenges, leadership difficulties, or inadequate facilities, but prayer.
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
It was just a prayer meeting in a primitive tent on the plains of Haran where Abraham and Sarah begged God for a child and He sent them the son of promise, Isaac.
It was just a prayer meeting on a construction site in the Egyptian city of Ramses where some Jewish slaves groaned under their taskmasters and God sent them a deliverer named Moses.
It was just a prayer meeting on the threshing floor where Gideon laid out his fleece before the Lord, and God answered with the dew, giving Gideon the courage to lead Israel’s army to victory over the Midianite invaders.
It was just a prayer meeting at Shiloh when Hannah cried out for a son and God sent her the first prophet of Israel, Samuel.
It was just a prayer meeting in the newly constructed Temple when Solomon prayed and God promised to hallow that place forever.
It was just a prayer meeting in Samaria when Hezekiah prayed with Isaiah and God answered by sending the death angel to wipe out 185,000 of Sennecharib’s men.
IN THE GOSPELS:
It was just a prayer meeting when Zacharias ministered in the temple, and God blessed him and Elizabeth with the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist.
It was just a prayer meeting on a Judean hillside when some shepherds guarded their flocks by night and a heavenly choir announced the birth of the long awaited Messiah.
It was just a prayer meeting in an undisclosed setting where Jesus chose His first disciples.
It was just a prayer meeting on the shores of Galilee when He blessed the loaves and fishes and fed 5,000.
It was just a prayer meeting in a garden called Gethsemane where the disciples dozed as Jesus sweated blood over the sins of his sheep.
It was just a prayer meeting between heaven and earth on an old rugged cross where Jesus looked at his tormentors and cried, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
It was just a prayer meeting in an Upper Room in Jerusalem where Jesus said, “Behold my hands and my side.”
IN THE BOOK OF ACTS:
It was just a prayer meeting after Jesus ascended that comforted the lonely disciples.
It was just a prayer meeting that shook the Upper Room and brought down the Holy Ghost on them like tongues of fire.
It was just a prayer meeting that imparted courage to the persecuted disciples.
It was just a prayer meeting when the disciples set apart the first deacons.
It was just a prayer meeting outside of town where Stephen looked up into Heaven and saw Jesus as the angry mob rushed upon him to silence his preaching.
It was just a prayer meeting on the desert road to Gaza when the Ethiopian called out for understanding and God shut down a revival meeting in Samaria and sent Philip to his chariot.
It was just a prayer meeting in Caesarea where Cornelius and his family cried for an evangelist and God sent Simon Peter.
It was just a prayer meeting that broke Peter out of prison.
It was just a prayer meeting that kicked off the first missionary journeys of the church.
It was just a prayer meeting when the Macedonian man cried for help and God sent Paul on the next ship to Samothrace.
It was just a prayer meeting in Ephesus that produced Lydia, the first European convert to Christianity.
It was just a prayer meeting in Philippi in a humble jailer’s home, where Paul and Silas shared the gospel while he bandaged their wounds.
IN LATER CENTURIES:
It was just a prayer meeting on January 25, 1736 on board a ship bound for America, where a group of Moravian brethren calmly prayed through a storm. This calm in the face of death convicted a young man named John Wesley of his lost condition. He said that day was “the most glorious day he had hitherto seen.”
It was just a prayer meeting at Aldersgate Church on May 24, 1738, that John Wesley listened to the pastor read Luther’s introduction to the book of Galatians, and felt his “heart strangely warmed”.
It was just a prayer meeting in Scotland in 1742 which moved a local pastor to invite George Whitefield to preach in Cambuslang, where the church grew from 400 to over 3,000.
It was just a prayer meeting on a sultry August afternoon in 1806 when 5 college students met together to pray in a meadow, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. A storm broke loose and they took shelter under a haystack, where they felt God speaking to them of the need to evangelize the heathen of other nations. This kicked off the American Foreign Missions movement.
It was just a prayer meeting at a Primitive Methodist church on Artillery Street, in Colchester, England on January 6, 1850, where a lay preacher filled the pulpit for the pastor because of the terrible snow storm. A 15 year old lad named Charles Spurgeon, seeking refuge from the bitter winds, took a seat in the gallery. The preacher preached Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” Spurgeon gave his heart to Jesus, and shortly thereafter was called to the ministry.
It was just a prayer meeting in 1857 when businessman Jeremiah Lamphier called a handful of fellow businessmen to noon prayer meetings in New York that eventually netted 800,000 souls for the Kingdom of God.
It was just a prayer meeting in 1904 when a 26 year old Welsh coal miner named Evan Roberts fell under the burden of the lost around him. He went home and prayed with such emotion that his land lady kicked him out because she thought he had gone mad. He was used of God to see over 100,000 saved.
It was just a prayer meeting in May 1934, when a farmer lent some businessmen his land in order to pray for revival in Charlotte, NC. The leader of the businessmen, Vernon Patterson, prayed, “Out of Charlotte, may the Lord raise up someone to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.” The businessmen then called for another evangelistic meeting, asking Mordechai Ham, a fiery southern evangelist, to preach in Charlotte. The farmer who lent his land for the prayer meeting was Franklin Graham and his son Billy Graham became a Christian during Ham’s meeting—the man who preached the gospel to more people than anyone in history!
It was just a prayer meeting in 1949 when 84 year old Peggy Smith, a blind woman, and her 82 year old arthritic sister, Christine, sought the face of God. God heard them and sent Duncan Campbell to preach, sweeping hundreds of Scottish souls into the Kingdom.
And now, as wickedness floods the earth, what we need is just a prayer meeting where we cry out for God to send His Spirit in Pentecostal power—and, sooner or later, to send Jesus to take us home in the rapture!
It was a rich heritage of prayer meetings that birthed churches like Mt. Zion Baptist Church all across America. Would it not be awesome to hear people say some day, that it was just a prayer meeting in a simple red brick sanctuary in West Paducah, Kentucky, where prayers went up and God came down, that started a Great Awakening that swept through that congregation and all through Western Kentucky.
Why are we here tonight? After all, isn’t this just a prayer meeting?