about prayer in the gathered church

They were together when it happened.

This wasn’t an event where they were all doing their own thing, then all of the sudden a light bulb turned on and they just figured it out.

They were together.

In fact, Jesus had modeled this way of life. He lived his life in community with the disciples, taking small times away to pray and recharge. We find most of the stories told of Jesus involved the community surrounding him.

During the dark days after Christ’s death before he was raised again, it looks like the disciples stayed together for the most part. After Jesus appeared to the women at the tomb, he went to where the disciples were together praying. Peter, James, John, and the rest of the disciples learned enough from Jesus to know that for the Kingdom to come upon this earth, they would have to stick together.

It seems like they spent a lot of time together in fellowship and prayer during those early days between the crucifixion and Pentecost. Then when they were once again together, the Holy Spirit showed up in full-force.

Pentecost-Duccio

So if I am seeing this story right, two things happened for the Spirit to show up:

Togetherness and praying.

Is it really this simple?

If we look at the typical programming and structures of the American Evangelical model of church, both of these things can be seen. We are asked to gather a lot. We have assemblies, classes, small groups, conferences, bible studies, times of worship and praise, and many other reasons to gather. And, we are asked to pray a lot (but of we are honest, not as much as we are asked to gather). You see it in our worship assemblies, in small groups, bible studies and the like. It can be debated about the quality and effectiveness of the gatherings and prayer, but that is for another post.

Yet what we do not see a lot in the American church is the intentional pairing of gathering and prayer without an instructional or evangelical purpose. That is, rarely do people just gather to pray. But, what we see is an early church who seemed to do a lot of just gathering an praying.

Again, is this too simple? Do we know more about this than the early church? Maybe they should have had a purpose to their prayer, or an agenda to their meetings.

But as far as I can tell, they just prayed together. A lot.

Then during one of their times of prayer, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ showed up.

Maybe we are missing something within our faith communities. What would happen if we decided to gather and pray more? This isn’t to say we change how we do worship or class or outreach. But, maybe what we are missing here is just gathering to pray without an agenda. No praying for our sick uncles or new jobs. Maybe the strength of the early church was the ability to just sit together and talk to God expecting something awesome to happen.

How would our churches look different? How would your heart be changed? How do you think the Holy Spirit would show up?

Tell me what you think about this in the comments.

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One thought on “about prayer in the gathered church

  1. “Maybe the strength of the early church was the ability to just sit together and talk to God expecting something awesome to happen.”

    YES!!! I want this to be the strength of the modern day church too. I long for it. Our church hosts a 24 hour prayer gathering once a quarter called Tabernacle of David. It’s a time anyone can come by for as long as they want to praise God, intercede for others, or just sit and soak in His presence. I want to make this happen on a smaller scale.

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