“Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” – Psalm 50:14-15
Prayer being an active, daily, even often every day, part of the life and walk of a Christian is very important and of great necessity. We know this to be true from the many words of encouragement, example, and instruction in the Scripture about how and why we should pray, including these words from Asaph in Psalm 50. We also know it to be true because it’s one of the duties of the Christian that Satan works hard to interrupt and shut down. Yet, try as he will, followers of the living God are called to offer thanksgiving and the Spirit works in us to gladly do so. We are also called to pay our vows, or in other words, seek to be faithful, obedient, and penitent considering our allegiance and vows to Christ. We are instructed to call upon Him and glorify Him, knowing and trusting God’s promise of deliverance in the day of trouble, which is grounded and secure in Christ. So, we should be diligent to pray and pray without ceasing to our Lord.
Heidelberg Catechism QA 116-117 are helpful as they teach us about the necessity and requisites of prayer:
Q 116. Why is prayer necessary for Christians?
A. Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us: and also, because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them. (Psalm 50:14-15, Mathew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13; Matthew 13:12)
Q 117. What are the requisites of that prayer, which is acceptable to God, and which he will hear?
A. First, that we from the heart pray to the one true God only, who hath manifested himself in his word, for all things, he hath commanded us to ask of him; secondly, that we rightly and thoroughly know our need and misery, that so we may deeply humble ourselves in the presence of his divine majesty; thirdly, that we be fully persuaded that he, notwithstanding that we are unworthy of it, will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer, as he has promised us in his word. (John 4:22-23, Romans 8:26, 1 John 5:14, John 4:23-24, Psalm 145:18, 2 Chronicles 20:12, Psalm 2:11, Psalm 34:18-19, Isaiah 66:2)
Know that prayer is effective in our lives because God has chosen to use it as a means of grace to deepen our relationship with Him, to encourage, comfort, and grow us. He has chosen it as a means to bring about His purposes. God marvelously brings about His eternal decrees through the prayers of His people. Prayer plays an important part in God’s providential plan. As those called to pray, it’s important to know how to pray properly. Praise the Lord for His teaching us how to pray through both instruction and model. The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 is a good example.
What should be true of our prayers? They should include adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. What must not be true of our prayers? We should not pray in a way that doesn’t glorify God. Neither should we pray for things that are against God’s law and Word, or go beyond the limits of what we should ask. Therefore, this is all the more reason as to why we must be good students in knowing His Word and being directed by His Spirit when we come before His throne.
As it’s good and right to be faithful in prayer as individuals and families, it’s also good for the body of Christ to gather and pray together as well. We do so in corporate worship, studies, outreach, etc. Prayer meetings are also a valuable, focused time for the congregation to come together and pray. As you think about this, keep in mind that prayer meetings aren’t a modern invention. Such gatherings were active in the New Testament church from its early days.
Remember what the disciples did after Christ gave them instruction and ascended into Heaven. They obeyed Him, returned to Jerusalem and waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. What did they do there? They met together in an upper room and “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…”. (Acts 1:14) See how the disciples were united and of one mind to pray together. Also note their devotion to prayer. They set time aside. They were committed and dedicated to doing so together.
Further, the church continued as it began. In Acts 2:42, we see after Pentecost that believers devoted themselves to prayer. After Peter and John’s escape from prison, they and the disciples lifted their voices to God together in prayer. (Acts 4:24) When Peter was imprisoned again, what did the church do? Gathered and prayed for him. (Acts 12:5) And there are many more examples we can consider.
Beloved, as prayer was earnest, frequent, and active in the New Testament church, it also should be the same in us today. As the saints of old were known to be those who were given to prayer, may our congregation, and all faithful churches of the Lord Jesus Christ be known to be the same. As we consider occasions to meet and pray, may we be diligent to gather on the Lord’s Day for Worship. As you’re able, also devote yourselves to participate in other times and occasions to gather and pray. Prayer meetings are a great time to do so!