“Corporate prayer was felt to be barely less essential to a congregation. ‘The weekly prayer-meeting’ it was said, ‘is the pulse of the church.’ If the prayer meeting was enthusiastic and well attended, the vitality of the congregation could be guaranteed. Normally held on a weeknight evening, it offered an opportunity for lay members to offer spontaneous prayers.”
David W. Bebbington, The Dominance of Evangelicalism: The Age of Spurgeon and Moody A History of Evangelicalism (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 84.
I’m especially appalled when I hear of Christians who do not attend prayer meeting at their church, especially if they’re members. They expect all of the privileges of membership without any commitment. I am acquainted with one church of over two-hundred where almost no one attends the midweek prayer meeting. The response? Cancel prayer meeting. I know another church that makes prayer meeting a requirement for membership, that is orally affirmed in the church covenant, and a person who does not have a reasonable excuse for their absence, can be removed from the membership.
What is especially despicable is when church leaders themselves don’t attend prayer meeting. This, in my mind, is disqualification for eldership. I know I write harshly, but prayer meeting is ballast both for the individual Christian and for the church. While it is not as important as Lord’s Day worship, it is nonetheless indispensable. As demonstrated from the quote above, this is an evangelical tradition–one that I hope does not get lost.
Many thanks to Bob T. who commented on this. He rightly points out that there are some who cannot make prayer meeting for legitimate reasons, he cites work as an example. We could add to that list seniors and young mothers who may also have reasonable excuses for missing prayer meeting. I should have been clearer in my original post and qualified my concern for those who have no good reason not to attend.