by Pastor Mark Tay In the recent survey reported by Pastor Robert Chew and printed in our bulletin of January 22nd 2012, a shocking reality was revealed. Of all the 15 churches surveyed, the average attendance of prayer meetings was less than 6 per cent of the total membership of 6,406. What happened to the majority of the congregation who do not attend the prayer meetings?
It is my conviction that a church is no stronger and no more spiritual than her prayer meetings. This is because prayer meetings are the power house of the Church. Perhaps it is time that we should examine our spiritual priority and values. Is the ministry of the Word more important than the prayer meeting?
Let us take a look at the apostles’ response to the complaint that certain section of the congregation was left out in the distribution of humanitarian aid.
Act 6:2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Act 6:3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. Act 6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
Take note that the apostles placed prayer and the Word as the priorities of the ministry of the Church though the social concern was not to be totally neglected.
Tozer wrote, “I am reminded that one old saint was asked, ‘Which is the more important: reading God’s Word or praying?’ To which he replied, ‘Which is more important to a bird: the right wing or the left?” (The Tozer Topical Reader Vol 2. p. 96).
Perhaps, our church has been functioning on one wing only. That may be why spiritually we are not flying very high with God! We may have put an overemphasis on the Word both in the preaching and the studying of it to the neglect of a vibrant and effectual prayer life.
Spurgeon the Prince of Preachers said, “Whether we like it or not, asking (praying) is the rule of the Kingdom.”
As such, prayer whether private or corporate, is not an option for us as children of the King.
Having said this, it is my prayer that all of us as God’s children will become a congregation of praying men and women. In order to be such, we must make praying a part of our lives as breathing is a vital part of our natural life.
“Prayer at its best is the expression of the total life…All things else being equal, our prayers are only as powerful as our lives... Most of us in moments of stress have wished that we had lived so that prayer would not be so unnatural to us and have regretted that we had not cultivated prayer to the point where it would be as easy and as natural as breathing…Undoubtedly the redemption in Christ Jesus has sufficient moral power to enable us to live in a state of purity and love where our whole life will be a prayer. Individual acts of prayer that spring out of that kind of total living will have about them a wondrous power not known to the careless or the worldly Christian.” (The Tozer Topical Reader Vol. 2 pg. 95, 96).
Jesus rightly rebuked the Jewish leaders of His day who have allowed God’s house to degenerate into a commercial centre and a social club. But the Head of the Church has made it known what He wanted His Church to be. He said, “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Lk. 19: 46).
May God revive our church that we rise up to the challenge of being what we are meant to be!