The apostle Paul wrote that we battle not against against flesh and blood but against dark, wicked, invisible forces in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12) Indeed, Peter tells us that Satan, the great Enemy of our souls, is wandering like a lion, seeking those to devour. (1 Pe 5:8)
But the Devil is not just targeting you personally. Peter and Paul wrote those warnings not for disconnected individuals, but for the Church. Satan is not merely targeting you personally, he is targeting us collectively. He doesn’t just hate you. He hates Harbins. And he especially hates anything that will facilitate the church’s growth in love, unity, holiness, and community witness.
Ever since I returned to Harbins Church a few years ago, I’ve been interested in holding a pre-service prayer time. Worship is warfare. It is the battle cry of the people of God. And because worship glorifies God, builds up the Church, and serves as a witness to the lost, it is the last thing that the Satanic powers want us to do.
Being struggling sinners, it’s not just Satan and his demons that seek to undermine our worship, but our own flesh pulls us in another direction. As the old hymn goes, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Our self-centered sinfulness wants to make Sunday (and every day) all about us.
With such things arrayed against us, how in the world can we have a time of successful, God-centered, edifying corporate worship? On critical but oft-neglected means is prayer.
In Ephesians 6, after describing the spiritual weapons and armor we are to use in our battle, Paul ends with a weapon many of us ignore. He urges us to be praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… (Ephesians 6:1)
Charles Spurgeon was pastor of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle and the hand of God was upon him and his church mightily and through his ministry the Lord ignited revival. Thousands came to Christ through his preaching. There were times where worship services drew as many as 10,000 people. Spurgeon was known to take visitors to his church to a basement prayer-room where people were seen on their knees interceding. Here, Spurgeon declared, is the powerhouse of the church.
Steam was the major power source in Spurgeon’s Day, and he compared the prayer room to a boiler room and said, “If the engine room is out of action, then the whole mill will grind to a halt. We cannot expect blessing if we do not ask.”
Spurgeon recognized that the prayers of God’s people were essential in fueling his preaching and his church.
During the summer months, with no Sunday School or other programs before the main service, this is a great time to gather to seek God’s help and blessing for our service. We’ll meet in the counseling room in the basement. It will be a time to get our hearts right before the Lord, to pray that God will help us to worship Him in spirit and truth, to pray for every element of the service (singing, preaching, fellowship, etc.) We will also pray for our congregation. We will pray that we will abound in love, unity, charity, and kindness for one another. We will pray that believers will be blessed, encouraged, and impacted by the service, and that our passion for Jesus will be further ignited and will spill over and impact our families, our relationships, and our community. We will pray for our own wayward hearts, and we will pray for people who will come to our service that do not know the Lord. We will pray for these things and more.
So join us this Sunday this summer at 10am in the counseling room downstairs. If we’ve already started when you get here that’s fine. If you have to step out before we wrap it up, no problem. If you want to pray out loud, great. If you want to pray silently, fantastic. Men, women, and children of all ages are welcome to come. If you’ve got a noisy baby or jittery toddler, come anyway!
I’ve wanted to do something like this for awhile and I want to thank my brother Chike for his encouragement for us to move forward. I’m not sure what will happen in the fall once Sunday School relaunches, but for now, let’s meet together in this way and see what God does.
Jesus reminds us that He is the vine, we are the branches, and apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) We need Jesus’ help for our corporate worship to be everything He wants it to be. We need God’s help for our church to be powerful, effective, and a vehicle that God will use to impact lives in our fellowship and in our community. If we want to see further growth and powerful spiritual revival in our midst, why not simply ask?
Spurgeon himself said,
“Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.”
More importantly, Jesus said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
See you Sunday.
Grace and Peace,