Written by Phil Cann.
I remember as a kid standing in the engine room of what appeared at that young age to be a massive ocean going tug. There were big men in that room… very big, very hot, very sweaty and very active getting the vessel ready for a good head of steam to catch the tide and pull out of harbor. I can’t remember who said it, but someone impressed on me that this was the power house, the most important room on the ship. It gave steerage, it allowed the skipper to set and hold course in any weather. Without it the ship and all aboard were at the mercy of the elements and whims of the sea.
I never forgot that…
Churches’ without prayer meetings are ships without engine rooms. They’re like cars without engines, like engines without fuel. Prayer is the boiler room of the church. I’ve often had people ask me; “how do I get a prayer meeting started at our place of worship?” – it’s simple really, you pick a day of the week, you pick a time of day, you let people know that’s when you’ll be there praying and ask them to come – then you pray! It is that simple. Even if no-one else comes – you pray.
As long as you make it accessible, not weird, de-mystify the process and welcome who-ever shows up – it’s a total “no loss” situation. Once it’s moving along then maybe chat about better times, which days’ work best etc., but don’t wait to sort all that out first – we need engine rooms, we need power that moves us, we need to pray together for our communities, churches, politicians, families, neighbours of friends and people we’ve never met.
Thursday evening at 7:30 is when we pray, we didn’t vote on it, or even discus it really – there was no prayer meeting, so it was a no brainer. We have a tradition now, a group of committed people, who pray.
At 8:30pm every week we gather at the window to finish off our time together – we’ve got a brilliant window! You can see the whole town. You can look down the length of the valley and see the mountains into the distance. We raise our hands and bless the town, we ask for God guided divine appointments while we shop, buy petrol, eat at restaurants and pay bills; we watch through the year as the seasons change, we go from praying in the evening sunshine to lifting our hands over the darkness in the falling snow – and God hears and answers prayer!
It’s no big deal, but it’s the biggest deal of all. It’s not rocket science, but it’s the smartest thing a group of humans can do – it’s a simple choice to pray without ceasing, rather than cease without praying…we’re sort of leaning towards the former of those two statements.
The times we live in are similar to soil that the gospel was first planted in – social chaos, political unrest, violence, moral weakness, lack of integrity and worry for the future. This is the soil in which the gospel grows best – this is what we pray into and call out to God for. This is why we stoke the boiler room, This is why we gather at the window
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “there’s a time for everything under the sun”. You don’t have to look far, or be very discerning to know what time it is. We watch as our nations are involved in some of the largest social and cultural experiments in human history; as there are “wars and rumours of wars”, as a frightened world raises a scared fist at a God they don’t believe in – it’s time to pray.
Showed in Picture: One of the elders in the Pemberton Community Church, Dani Schranz, leading one of the small groups on a Thursday evening “at the window” as they close the prayer time.