Prayer is very important to all Christians, because it is the way we talk to God. Prayer cannot be used by unsaved people, because God does not listen to them. God only listens to people who are saved. He tells us this in the Bible.

Do you have regular prayer meetings in your church? Does everybody pray out loud? Or, if you attend deaf meetings, do you all sign so that everybody can see you? If everybody does it, then this is not what the Bible tells us to do. And if we have regular prayer meetings, it is wrong. The Bible tells us what to do.

In many churches, people do not want to attend the prayer meetings. The pastors think that this is because they are not good Christians. But, I think it is because they know in their hearts, that they should not be there, even if they do not know why.

Prayer meetings today are traditional*. That is, we have done them for hundreds of years. Just because we do something for years, it does not mean it is correct! A lot of Christians say that they enjoy the prayer meetings. Others say that they get a lot out of prayer meetings. I did not! Lots of Christians do not! Some enjoy them and some get a lot out of them...but it does not mean prayer meetings are correct.

So, prayer is very important, but the church prayer meetings we have today are not correct. But, if you try talking about it, a pastor may get worried about you! He might think that you are sliding down into sin! But, if a church will not let you ask questions or talk about things in a serious way, then it is wrong. So long as you are a real Believer, you can talk about these things, especially if it worries you.

Look at the Book of Matthew, chapter 6. Begin at verse 1 and go on to verse 15. In verses 1 to 4, Jesus warns us about giving help to people...this can be money or, food or, clothes, our time or, something else. He says that if we SHOW EVERYBODY IN PUBLIC what we are doing, then God will not be pleased. We must give help in secret, so that nobody else knows. But God knows.

Then in verse 5 Jesus says that we must not pray like the sinners who like to pray in public, because God does not like it. In verse 6 Jesus says (I have put it in modern English): "But you, when you pray, GO INTO YOUR ROOM. Then, when you have shut the door, pray to God IN SECRET. God will hear you and reward you." You see? Jesus Christ Himself is telling us to pray alone, in secret!

In verse 7 Jesus warns us not to say the same things over and over again. He calls this "vain repetition". That means, repeating things. God does not listen to such prayers, because they do not come from the heart. So, all those prayers which Anglicans and Roman Catholics say from books are wrong. All those prayers which we keep repeating every week in prayer meetings are wrong. God does not even listen to them! So, why do we keep saying them? It is because everybody else tells us we must do it! But God tells us to pray in secret.

There is no need to pray in public for our personal things. We can pray in secret because God already knows what we need! That is what it says in verse 8. Then, Jesus gives us His prayer. He did NOT give us this prayer so that we could repeat it all the time. NO, because if we keep repeating it, we are making "vain repetition"!! He said "After this manner therefore, pray ye". That means the prayer is ONLY AN EXAMPLE. It shows us how to talk to God...we must first of all praise Him, then we must ask for whatever we want and ask for forgiveness. We must ask that God will keep us free from sin and so on. So, if we keep repeating it in our churches or in our own prayers, Jesus calls is "vain repetition" and God will not listen to it.

Now you might say that the Apostles met together for prayer meetings. NO, when they met together to pray, they met for SPECIAL reasons. They DID NOT meet regularly every week to say the same kinds of prayers! You can read about the times when they met to pray...they always met when something important came along.

But, the most fantastic thing about their prayers was this - EVERYBODY in the meeting was CALLED to pray about EXACTLY THE SAME THING! As the Bible tells us, they were all "of one mind". They did not come together to pray for Aunty Joan's big toe, or about getting a job, or about some other small thing. That is how their prayer meetings were important and full of God's power! We must pray in public ONLY when it is something very important to everybody.

Can you honestly say that when you meet together for a prayer meeting, that God has told each one of you to pray about exactly the same thing? I do not think so! In nearly 30 years of going to prayer meetings I never saw this! That is why I no longer attend them. I am a pastor of a small church and someone only prays in public IF he knows God wants him to and IF it is important to us ALL. For example, we all prayed together a few months ago, because my mother, who was also in our church, was dying. We ALL felt that God wanted us to pray for her in public at the same time. When we did that, God answered. The rest of the time, we pray in secret in our own rooms.

A pastor, though, is allowed to pray in public FOR the members. We see this in the Old Testament, too. But he must never repeat the same things. It is better that he shuts up, if God has not called him to pray. Would a pastor do this? Would he just pray in public because the members think he must do it? That is what usually happens! But he must not do it because other people want him to do it! He must only pray in public if GOD tells him to do it. And the same goes for each one of us. Amen!

* Traditional is said TRAD-ISH-YON-AL.

© November 1993

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