And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. Luke 11:1
I went to a prayer meeting last night, and I came away feeling some despair. This post may sound very critical or mean spirited. Heaven forbid. I want only to speak from my 60+ years of going to “prayer meetings,” and the fact that for decades, it seems to me that prayer meetings are generally prayerless. I hasten to explain.
When I was a child, I remember kneeling in sawdust in an outdoor camp meeting and listening to a man of God pray. Obviously he had spent hours in prayer, because the very air was electric with supernatural anointing. He brought it with him. It was all over him. I focused my eyes on him though it was wicked to have your eyes open while praying. Others prayed aloud too, but the prayer leader wasn’t distracted. And as he prayed, the pray-ers who were gathered would affirm his petition and intercede for churches, for the lost, for healing, for city officials and school teachers who were called by name, for missionaries, for governments. It was not unusual for these crowds of a few hundred to pray an hour. A few times, they lasted well into the night, and I remember the deep, deep peace I felt as I fell asleep on the wooden bench to the sound of prayers.
When I was in college, I attended a prayer group for about two years. There were about 25 people in the group. We had a large chalk board in the room where we met, and we came at the scheduled hour and began to pray and agree together, and intercede. The only “rule” was the only spoken words were to God in prayer. If someone wanted to add a request, they went to the front and wrote it on the chalk board. There were moments of silence in the group. But mostly we lifted our voices together in intercession. I witnessed many miracles in that prayer meeting, though I never spoke directly to some of the ones who attended. I experienced the overwhelming presence and glory of God every time we were together.
I have read hundreds of books about prayer, and though Christians generally agree that prayer is the source of power and purity in all of life, corporate prayer as I have understood and experienced it has completely disappeared from Christendom.
Part of the problem may be my lack of appreciation for music. The prayer meeting I attended last night consisted of extremely loud repetitious phrases sung by performers, most of which I could not understand. When did music become chord progressions with only five notes? Must one now play a steel guitar to pray? Though I went to the meeting hoping to join others who are burdened to pray for our city and our nation, I found individual stations that were self-centered in the extreme. Confess MY sin, stretch ME, find MYSELF, help ME get closer to God. Good grief. If you are going to come to a prayer meeting to intercede could you please take your spiritual shower at home and arrive clean and ready to intercede for someone besides yourself? There is so much work to be done. Is the church so polluted that God cannot find an intercessor?
And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. Isaiah 59:16
And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Ezekiel 22:30
These prophets lived in days of great spiritual darkness. And there was no one to pray. I woke up this morning longing to sit with the disciples as they approached Jesus in Luke 11:1: Lord, teach us to pray. I want to listen to men pray, whose anointed prayers make them seem bigger than life. I want to sit in His Presence, and speak to Him as a friend of God, not as one lost in the darkness. Silence the beating, vain repetitious music that accosts my soul. I want to pray.
Lord, today, I have one request. Teach me again how to pray.