[Names of writers withheld by request]

Someone recently found copies of a chilling exchange of letters in his files. It made him wonder if conditions have improved or declined since those letters were written 3 years ago. If matters haven’t and don’t change for the better, tragedy awaits!

Here are excerpts, somewhat adapted and expanded, from those letters between Brother A and Brother B. We hope you will run this in Word and Work Magazine. Maybe some of its readers will want to make comments related to this situation.

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Dear Brother B: A comment you made in a sermon. aroused my curiosity — as well as great anxiety. You said none of our congregations have prayer-meetings any more, in contrast to the past. To the extent that is true, woe is us! May God wake us up!

But are you sure that almost all of the churches have replaced prayer-meetings with Bible classes — or else don’t have any meetings except Sun. morning? I attend our church’s midweek meeting, so don’t get to visit around and learn what other churches are doing. And it never occurred to me to ask about this matter. I dread to think that your statement is accurate, yet I know you are in touch with quite a lot of congregations. May God wake us up from sleep. –Brother A

In Brother B’s reply he sadly said that while there may have been some exceptions, it seemed to him they were few and far between.

What about Now — 3 Years Later?

When I (Brother A) recently questioned Brother B again, he sadly replied that it seems little has changed, at least as far as he knows. But he did add that it is true that a while back the church he attends chose to have mid-week prayer meetings. Yet few attend.

And in most congregations it seems nothing has changed. Here’s a case in point. A certain church meets on Wednesday nights. At times a meal is shared, but mostly the meeting consists of showing DVDs. Some time ago a brother asked if they could have a prayer meeting at the mid-week assembly. “Maybe just once a month, if every week is too much.” What was the response? Very little to almost nothing was said about the request, thus it was in fact plainly ignored and forgotten about. Apparently it has not been brought up again.

Brother B in his letter wrote something like this: “I hate to say this, but what we might need is a good dose of hard times–to wake us up! Though our Lord may return at any time, that is no guarantee His people won’t experience some really tough times first. That has happened repeatedly throughout the past two thousand years. And who knows what is on the near-horizon if Jesus does not return in the very near future.

There are a Few Exceptions

Yet I praise the Lord for a congregation I know which still has a midweek hour-long prayer-meeting for adults. However, about 5 or 6 of the church’s adults teach children or youth at the same time that prayer-meeting is held, and thus can’t attend it. So that prayer-meeting usually has only 3-5 people. But they spend almost all the time in prayer. There are no sermonettes given, and no time spent singing.

Most weeks they pray something like this:

*First for the classes going on at that same hour. (Almost all of the pupils are unsaved.) Then they usually do all or most of the following:

*Worship and give Thanks to the Lord.

*Intercede for Governments and world affairs.

*Pray for their local church and other churches too: for God to raise up strong leaders, and faithful teachers, evangelists and youth workers.

*Also for Missionaries in various places. “Missions Around the World,” the prayer-request book put out yearly by the Missions office at Cramer and Hanover Church (2468 Calendula Rd., Lexington KY 40299) supplies information that is very helpful.

*Also for Revival — that God will move powerfully among His disciples world- wide–along the lines of Psalm 85:6, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”

*Also for those who are Sick or facing Financial Difficulties and other Family problems.

*Also for Christian Schools (such as Portland Christian Sch.), and Colleges (like at Buechel).

*Also for Persecuted Christians around the world, using up-to-date news from monthly magazines like Voice of the Martyrs (which was founded by Richard Wurmbrand: P.O. Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005); or Frontline Faith (published by Open Doors, headed by Brother Andrew: OpenDoorsUSA.org).

*Our Lord tells us specifically to pray that laborers will be raised up for the worldwide spiritual harvest (see Matt. 9:36-38).

In that same congregation there also are several ladies who meet one afternoon a week to intercede. (Most of them can’t attend the Wed. night meeting.)

They discuss blessings and needs, and then pray for an hour or more. The congregation also has established a telephone prayer-chain which is mobilized when special needs or crises arise. Finally, recently some members began setting aside at least one day monthly as a time to fast as well as pray. They don’t meet together for this, nor even ask folks to sign up in order to participate. But they encourage them to join in as the Lord leads and they are able.

The church does not brag about any of this, but considers any and all of it as a fabulous gift from the Lord. As the wonderful old hymn says, “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”

I really, really hope my friend’s statement about congregations “not having prayer meetings any more” was not accurate. But if it is, let’s pray that there might be a powerful awakening among such churches — a rebirth of regular and Biblical prayer-meetings for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom.

(For some New Testament examples, see Luke 18:1ff; Acts 4:23-31; Acts 6:6; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 16:13-15; Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:3; 1 Tim. 2:1-8; James 5:16.)