"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:20
Prayer meetings are divinely ordained of God to bring great blessings to His people. Notice the following quotations:
Charles Spurgeon (Famous Preacher in London)
"All who are familiar with Mr. Spurgeon's writings, know that he regarded the prayer-meeting as the thermometer of the church; and, judging by that test, the spiritual temperature of the large community under his charge stood very high. Not that he could ever induce all the members to be regularly present on the Monday night; but, for many years, the numbers attending filled a large portion of the area and first gallery, and the world-wide testimony was that the meeting was altogether unique, the only one that at all approached it being Pastor Archibald G. Brown's Saturday night prayer meeting at the East London Tabernacle. Nor was it remarkable simply for its size, but the whole spirit of the gathering made it a source of peculiar helpfulness to all who were in constant attendance, while occasional visitors carried away with them even to distant lands influences and impulses which they never wished to lose or to forget. Many years ago, Mr. Spurgeon gave, in The Sword and the Trowel, detailed reports of these hallowed prayer meetings, in the hope that the record might be useful in awakening new interest in what he always regarded as the most important meeting of the week. He often said that it was not surprising if churches did not prosper, when they regarded the prayer-meeting as of so little value that one evening in the week was made to suffice for a feeble combination of service and prayer-meeting." Autobiography, p. 81
"Another gift which many have is the gift of prayer—of prayer with power, in private for the church and with sinners. There be some who have learned by long practice how to knock at heaven's door, so as to get a readier opening of the door than others. Numbers of these have coupled with this the gift of utterance in public prayer. Such dear friends ought not to be absent from the prayer meeting, except when absolute necessity compels. They should not only be content with coming to prayer meetings that are established, but they should stir up the gift that is in them, and try to establish others in neglected places. There was never a period when the church had too much prayer. "The Sacraments," as they are called, may have been unduly exalted, but who has ever unduly exalted prayer. Bible-readings may degenerate into mere discussion, and even preaching into a show of oratory; but prayer has vital elements about it which survive many an injury. Alas! Alas! for churches that have given up prayer 'meetings. You shall judge of the presence of God by the prayer meeting, as accurately as you shall judge the temperature of the air by the thermometer. It is one of the truest signs that God is with the people when they pray, and it is one of the darkest signs that he has departed when prayer is lacking. You who have sweet communion with God in private, look upon your prevalence on the knee not only as a blessing for yourselves, but as a gift that is bestowed upon yon for the good of others." Sermons, Vol. 18, p. 629
“United prayer is useful inasmuch as God has promised extraordinary and special blessings in connection with it: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” [Matthew 18:20]. “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” [Matthew 18:19]. God asks for agreement, and, once the saints agree, he pledges himself that the prayer of his agreeing ones shall be answered. Why, see what accumulated force there is in prayer, when one after another pours out their passionate desires; when many seem to be tugging at the rope; when many seem to be knocking at mercy’s gate; when the mighty cries of many burning hearts come up to heaven. When, my beloved, you go and shake the very gates of heaven with the powerful battering-ram of holy passion, and sacred insistence, then will the kingdom of heaven forcefully advance. When ﬁrst one, and then another, and yet another, throws their whole soul into the prayer, the kingdom of heaven is conquered and the victory is very great indeed.
"As I was sitting for a little while and thinking over this text I thought of the accumulated love of God which there is in a prayer-meeting, because God loves every one of his children. There is so much love for one, and here is another, and there is so much love for him, and then, if God’s love to one of his people is a reason for answering his requests, if there are ten present, there is ten times the reason; and if there is a thousand present then surely there must be a thousand times the force of love to move our Heavenly Father to grant the accumulated desires of the assembly at prayer meetings.
"The prayer-meeting is an institution which ought to be very precious to us, and to be cherished by us as a Church, for to it we owe everything. When our comparatively little chapel was all but empty, was it not a well-known fact that the prayer-meeting was always full? And when the Church increased, and the place was scarcely large enough, it was the prayer meeting that did it all. When we then met at Exeter Hall, we were a praying people, indeed; and when we entered into an even larger arena, the Surrey Music-hall, what cries and tears went up to heaven for our success! And so it has been ever since. It is in the spirit of prayer that our strength lies; and if we lose this, the hair will be cut off from Samson’s head, and God’s Holy Church will become weak as water and though we, as Samson did, go and try to shake ourselves as at other times, we shall hear the cry, “The Philistines are upon you,” and our eyes will be put out, and our glory will depart, unless we continue mightily and earnestly in prayer.”
“He who would conquer in this (God’s) glorious war and overcome at the Lord’s mercy seat must be resolved with his whole soul — resolved after mature thought, resolved for reasons too weighty for him to escape, resolved that from the throne of grace he will not depart without the blessing. Never, never shall a man be unsuccessful in prayer who sets his face to win the promised mercy. If you are seeking what you ought to seek for and are seeking it through Christ and by faith in Him, the one qualification to success that we recommend is that you set your face toward the attaining of it. If there are only a dozen members in my church who have set their faces for a revival, we shall surely have it — of this my heart has no doubt. If there are only a half a dozen — like Gideon’s men who lapped — who are unwavering and will not be deterred by difficulties or turned back by disappointments, as sure as God is God, He will hear the prayers of such. Even if it came down to but two or three, the promise is to two of us who are agreed as touching one thing concerning the kingdom (Matt. 18:19). And if two cannot be found but one faithful saint is left — provided that he is endowed with the spirit and ardor of Daniel — he would yet prevail as Daniel did of old. We must not fail in the setting of our face toward the Lord. I humbly but devoutly ask God the Holy Ghost to give you a solemn resolution that in the work in which you are engaged for God, you will not be satisfied unless the largest answers be vouchsafed.” Charles Spurgeon, "The Prayer that is Quickly Answered," A sermon
Hudson Taylor (Founder of the China Inland Mission)
"At the outset I would mention that one of the most cheering things in connection with the Mission, to my mind, is the way in which friends come to our weekly prayer-meeting at 2, Pyrland Road, Mildmay, from Saturday to Saturday. Some come many miles; and some never miss the meeting. One friend present to-day, I believe, has never been absent but once from that prayer-meeting which was commenced nineteen years ago. Many others, too, are with us as often as they can be; and no one can do more. This I am most thankful for. If God's people come together to recognise Him as Lord of all, and to look to Him for everything,—for men when men are needed, for means when means are needed, and for blessing which is always needed, we shall not have cause for discouragement. God cannot deny Himself; and the believing prayers of His people never yet were unanswered, and never will be."
George Müller (Founder of the Orphanage in Bristol England)
“There is not a more blessed and powerful weapon for the children of God, than that they should give themselves to prayer. For thus they can have the power of God on their side—the almighty power of God. And by making use of this power, through the instruments of prayer in all things we need, we can have the infinite wisdom of God brought to work for us, and have God Himself at our side, as children of God. Therefore we should seek to make a far better use than ever we have clone of prayer. And you, my beloved Christian friends, who are in the habit of meeting often at the noonday prayer meeting, expect great things at the hands of God; look out for wondrous blessings, and you will find how ready He is to give those things which we ask for.” From Counsels to Christians
Ellen White (Author; her book Desire of Ages is among the ten most read books of young pastors of all denomination)
"A prayer meeting will always tell the true interest of the church members in spiritual and eternal things. The prayer meeting is as the pulse to the body; it denotes the true spiritual condition of the church. A lifeless, backslidden church has no relish for the prayer meetings."--Selections from Testimonies to the Managers and Workers in our Institutions, p. 32.
"Among God's people there should be at this time frequent seasons of sincere, earnest prayer. The mind should constantly be in a prayerful attitude. In the home and in the church let earnest prayers be offered in behalf of those who have given themselves to the preaching of the Word. Let believers pray as did the disciples after the ascension of Christ.
"A chain of earnest, praying believers should encircle the world. Let all pray in humility. A few neighbors may meet together to pray for the Holy Spirit. Let those who cannot leave home, gather in their children, and unite in learning to pray together. They may claim the promise of the Saviour: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).
"There is nothing more needed in the work than the practical results of communion with God. We should hold convocations for prayer, asking the Lord to open the way for the truth to enter the strongholds where Satan has set up his throne, and dispel the shadow he has cast athwart the pathway of those whom he is seeking to deceive and destroy. We have the assurance, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). Heavenly Places, p. 93
"As a people, we have received great light. This light the Lord has entrusted to us for the benefit and blessing of the world. To us has been given the ministry of reconciliation. With power from on high we are to beseech men to be reconciled to God. We are encouraged to pray for success, and we are given the divine assurance that our prayers will be heard and "if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." "Ask of Me, and I will answer your requests. The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of God's people are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love for God and for one another." Central Advance, February 25, 1903
"Here are the great cities in England and on the continent with their millions of inhabitants that have not yet heard the last warning message. How are these to be warned? If the people of God would only exercise faith, He would work in a wonderful manner to accomplish this work. Hear the words of Christ: "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven." Precious promise! Do we believe it? What marvelous results would appear if the united prayers of this company were to ascend to God in living faith! Jesus stands ready to take these petitions and present them to His Father, saying, "I know these persons by name. Send answers to their prayers; for I have graven their names on the palms of My hands."--Historical Sketches, p. 152. (1886)
"Our Saviour follows His lessons of instruction with a promise that if two or three should be united in asking anything of God it should be given them. Christ here shows that there must be union with others, even in our desires for a given object. Great importance is attached to the united prayer, the union of purpose. God hears the prayers of individuals, but on this occasion Jesus was giving especial and important lessons that were to have a special bearing upon His newly organized church on the earth. There must be an agreement in the things which they desire and for which they pray. It was not merely the thoughts and exercises of one mind, liable to deception; but the petition was to be the earnest desire of several minds centered on the same point." Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 429
Jeremy Lanphier (lay person who initiated revival of 1857)
Jeremy Lanphier, a layperson, was hired by a Dutch Reformed Church in Lower Manhatten to reverse the declining trend of their church membership. Not knowing what to do, he began asking God to direct him in what to do. Eventually God led him to rent a hall on Fulton street and advertise a noon prayer meeting. Only six people attended for the first meeting on September 23, 1857, and those people arrived late. But God blessed that prayer meeting, and the attendance grew. On October 10 the stocck market crashed ansd soon people were flocking to the meetings. Soon other churches also began holding noon prayer meetings. Within six months 10,000 people were gathering for prayer daily in New York City alone. Eventually the movement spread across the country, and was the means of bringing of what is known as the third great awakening. The revival eventually spread to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Europe, South Africa, India, Australia, and the Pacific islands.
Some quotes on Lanphier's work:
"He was working to bring salvation to the people who lived in the lower wards of the city, but didn’t know what to do! He knew he could take tracts and distribute them, or preach on street corners. But to reach the masses, he needed something better. Not having been trained in any way, he began earnestly entreating, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” He also asked God to show him how to do what he was to do. Taking courage in 2 Thess. 3:13 and Phil 4:13 (“Be now weary in well doing;” I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”) he continued praying for light and over time become convicted that God was going to answer his prayer. But he didn’t have the slightest idea of what God had in mind. One day he was distinctly impressed that “an hour of prayer, from 12 - 1 PM, would be beneﬁcial for business men, who usually in great numbers take that hour for rest and refreshment. The idea was to have singing, prayer, exhortation, relation of religions experience, as the case might be; that none should be required to stay the whole hour; that all should come and go as their engagements should allow or require, or their inclinations dictate.”
"What were the results? Prayer meetings were established throughout the country—Boston, Baltimore, Washing, Richmond, Charleston, etc.. People were crowding into the meetings. The secular press was giving very supportive notices about what was going on. All classes of citizens were being positively impacted by the revival. The most “vicious and abandoned characters, supposed to be beneath and beyond the reach of all religious inﬂuence…were brought to humble themselves like little children at the foot of the cross.”
"Christians became bold in their asking and were receiving answers to their prayers. “The spectacle of such universal conﬁdence in God was without a parallel.”
“The prayer meeting would be established in lecture rooms and vestries, and all at once it would be found that scarcely could the largest churches contain the hundreds who would come up to the house of God to pray…. Conversions multiplied, so that there was, after a little, no attempt to compute their numbers. In some towns nearly all the population became, as was believed, true and faithful followers of Christ.”
“Lay people, not church leaders led. Prayer, rather than preaching, was the main focus. The prayer meetings themselves were informal — any person might pray, speak, lead in a song, or give a word of testimony, with a ﬁve minute limit placed on each speaker. In spite of loose organization, the prayer meetings avoided the emotionalism displayed in earlier revivals.”
Andrew Murray (Dutch Reformed Pastor and Author)
"A prayer-meeting for maintaining religious fellowship, or seeking our own edification, may have its use; this was not the Saviour's view in its appointment. He meant it as a means of securing special answer to prayer. A prayer meeting without recognised answer to prayer ought to be an anomaly. When any of us have distinct desires in regard to which we feel too weak to exercise the needful faith, we ought to seek strength in the help of others. In the unity of faith and of love and of the Spirit, the power of the Name and the Presence of Jesus acts more freely and the answer comes more surely. The mark that there has been true united prayer is the fruit, the answer, the receiving of the thing we have asked: ' I say unto you, It shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.'"
George Whitfield (Arguably the greatest preacher who ever lived; from England)
"If you want larger means, let me say, first of all, 'Meet for prayer.' Oh, a good prayer meeting, what a grand thing it is! I like the 'Amen,' of our Methodist friends, when they put it in the right place: to hear it sometimes, it makes a man respond, 'Amen!' he cannot help it. I was once at a Primitive Methodist meeting, where a good brother stuck fast, so they said to him, 'plead the blood, brother.' It frightened me, till I recollected. The poor man did plead the blood of Jesus, and we had a blessed prayer meeting, indeed. What we want is, a little more life and earnestness. Not a little more, but a great deal more. If we all prayed as we would pray for our own lives—if we all said no more words than were wanted, and left off when we had done, then we should have good prayer meetings. Some of our brothers evidently act on the idea that they must keep up to the orthodox twenty minutes; and there they stand, telling God Almighty everything in the world, but not praying a bit! I told one of our friends one night, who asked the Lord to forgive him for his shortcomings, that he should pray to be delivered from his longcomings. He prayed an awful while; had he occupied only half the time, we should have enjoyed his prayer; but he prayed us right in, and then prayed us out again. Our prayer-meetings must not be shams; they must be real prayers—five minutes a-piece, ten at the outside; and those who do pray, must be earnest, or refuse to pray altogether. One cold prayer damps a meeting." Taken from the Penny Pulpit, p. 262
John Wesley (Founder of the Methodist Church)
"'You must either bend or break. Meantime, while you act exactly right, expect to be blamed by both sides. I will give you a few directions. (1) See that no prayer meeting continues later than nine at night, particularly on Sunday: let the house be emptied before the clock strikes nine. (2) Let there be no exhortation at any prayer-meeting. (3) Beware of jealousy, or judging one another. (4) Never think a man is an enemy to the work, because he reproves irregularities. Peace be with you and yours !" From a letter
Austin Sparks (Deeply spiritual author of recent times)
"Now this means that we must recognize that where but two or three gather into the Name, where it cannot be more, there is nothing merely local about such coming together in prayer, but that the farthest ranges of the Lord's interests can be advanced, helped, ministered to, by the twos and threes. If it is possible for more to gather, then the Lord desires that, but it is ministry to the Lord by prayer for which He looks to us. We must see to it that it is our first, our primary business to pray. It is strange that so many more will come to conference meetings than to prayer meetings! Is the mentality behind that, that it is far more important to hear teaching than it is to pray? Would it not be a great day and represent some tremendous advance spiritually, something unique, if the prayer gatherings were bigger than the biggest conference gatherings, or at least as big as the biggest?"
B. E. Dawson
"The real average prayer-meeting gives the pastor no little worry, and yet no little comfort. It both discourages and encourages. It has been called the thermometer of the church, and the pastor who so regards it will frequently see it register down close to zero, or spasmodically bound up to blood-heat. Like very many of our cheap thermometers, it is a very fickle, unreliable affair, not infrequently making the pastor believe his garden is about to be blighted by the chilling frost of indifference. It has been called the pulse of the church, and the pastor with his fingers on the pulse becomes very solicitous about his patients condition. The patient refuses to improve, or die, although it seems about to expire. He wishes sometimes it would, but is afraid to kill it. He administers tonics and stimulants, then tries alterants; finally becomes reckless and blisters or bleeds. Still it lingers on, the same real, average prayer-meeting.
I find, ordinarily, the most faithful consecrated members in the prayer-meeting. They may be few in number and yet have a successful prayer-meeting. Paul and Silas held a prayer-meeting in the dungeon at midnight that was very successful. So to-day our little prayer-meetings frequently open doors of opportunity to do good, and loose the shackles of sin and sorrow. Every minister should love the prayer-meeting for the help and strength he receives there from. When Peter was in prison the brethren and sisters assembled were praying for him, and before they adjourned Peter was released. The good angel led him out back to light and liberty. The faithful few praying for their pastor is very strengthening and helpful. He may be in the dark dungeon of doubt, discouragement, or despair, but their prayers will surely send the good angel to lead him into the light. He may have dangerous places to pass, in the way of church troubles, financial embarrassments or severe temptations, but the angel will put the guard to sleep and the gates will open at his approach. Every pastor needs these prayers to lift him upward and urge him forward." From the Treasury
Mrs. Winslow (Wife of Octavius Winslow
"This evening I attended a prayer meeting for the outpouring of the Spirit. The fault I generally perceive with most prayer meetings occurred again tonight: the prayers were too long, and not to the point. Everything was touched upon but the one thing we had agreed to meet and pray for. I do wish there were less preaching in prayer, and more beseeching, as poor needy sinners, for what we want."
"You know my dislike to preaching in prayer. Prayer is the most holy exercise of the soul, and should be the pure breathings of the renewed heart in humble, earnest petition, and in the presence of a holy God. And when the soul feels in the presence of God, and loses sight of the worms of the dust who are listening, there is no self-seeking or wish to please the ear of man, but humbly to get the blessed ear of God Himself."
"… And so you are discouraged. Trials and difﬁculties many, faith tried, and only three met! Did you expect to undertake a work for Christ and get on smoothly, while there is everything within and without to oppose it? Did you expect faith would not be tried in this matter? Faith takes hold of the strength and power of God, and looks alone to Him. You were looking to your little feeble band of three, although you were within the number Christ has promised to bless. In a country place in America, a few Christian females engaged to meet to pray for a blessing on their families; but after a while it declined, and continued to do so until only two came. 'Shall we give up?’ was the question. They thought of God’s faithfulness to His promise, of His power and goodness, and resolved to go on. They met, these two only, again and again. They pleaded the promise, and encouraged each other by their prayers. At last the answer came. God tried their faith, Jesus interceded, and it had not failed. Some who had left them returned, others followed; the place of prayer was soon ﬁlled. The Lord poured out His Spirit on them, and they prayed in earnest until the blessing was given. The church felt the holy inﬂuence ; their children at home began to inquire what they must do to be saved; the mothers directed them to Jesus, and prayed on. God in very deed bowed the heavens, and came down in their midst to bless them. Many of their unconverted children and husbands were led to submit to Christ, and the whole church shared in this remarkable revival. Dear sister, take courage and look up. God loves to hear your prayers. Did the mothers in John-street Chapel but see their children standing on the edge of an awful precipice, and know that none but God could prevent their destruction, would they not cry day and night to Him? But what can be compared to the eternal death that awaits them, if they die unconverted? And will they not meet together for united prayer, that their dear children may escape from the wrath to come? Again I say unto you, if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. Matt, xviii. 19. This is a promise worth millions of gold and silver, and this promise you have to plead. May God help us to give full credence to His word, and deal with Him as one who cannot but do all He has promised, because He is God! In proportion as we feel the inﬁnite value of the immortal soul, we shall feel anxious for its salvation. Now, beloved, expect difﬁculties, expect opposition, even from your own heart; but you have the Lord on your side. Jesus is waiting to be gracious. The Holy Spirit is waiting to do all that He has engaged to do; and angels are waiting to rejoice over unconverted sinners, in answer to your prayers. We shall never fully know, until we get to heaven, the mighty power of importunate prayer with God. If I knew your time of convening, I would unite my poor prayers with yours. I am earnest on this subject, knowing the great blessings that have attended such efforts. Go forward in the strength and power of Jehovah-Jesus, and God must and will bless you.” From Life in Jesus, a memoir of Mary Winslow by Octavius Winslow
"A Prayer Meeting Recipe.—We have had a great many, but we will get none too many good ones. Go to the meeting with a heart warmed with love to Christ and to Christian brethren. Carry a spirit of prayer with you from your closet, and then you will be sure to have it when you get there. Be ready and prompt to pray and speak. Backwardness and waiting throw a deathly chill over the meeting. Let not the meeting ordinarily exceed one hour. Let brevity be observed in all the services. Long prayers are apt to abound in vain repetitions, and prolonged remarks are often tedious. The model prayer given by our Lord and Saviour may be easily repeated in half a minute. The prayer of the publican comprises only six words, and still is very comprehensive. From three to five minutes is usually long enough for any brother to occupy at one time in remarks and prayer. In the closet one may pray an hour or a whole night if he chooses, but in the social circle prayer should be short, specific and fervent. Keep the services free from all friction of unkind feelings and censorious remarks. Let attendance upon these meetings be regular and constant as possible."