1 Corinthians 14:26-40
How is it then, brothers? when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation…
This is the only meeting where this is the primary object. It is therefore important as the gauge of Church life — at once a barometer, chronometer, thermometer. How far fellowship exists and how close it is cannot be judged by audiences on the Lord's day. Often the minister is the personal magnet, and the Church falls into disintegration when he is withdrawn, as a sheaf of wheat when the bond is removed. But it is never so when the prayer-meeting is central. Note the requisites of a good prayer-meeting.
I. ATTENDANCE — "all with one accord in one place" (Acts 1:13, 14). Blessed unanimity! — itself a promise and prophecy of Pentecost. To promote this the meeting should be made attractive. The place, the time, the environment ought to be all favourable-light, heat, ventilation, home comfort. A fervent meeting cannot be expected with freezing feet. The household of believers should have a home atmosphere in a home gathering.
II. AGREEMENT (Matthew 18:19, 20). A divided Church never has a true prayer service. Unity reacts on the meeting, drawing together by a common motive.
II. THE SENSE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE MASTER (Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 5:4). Every attendant helps to make the atmosphere of the meeting, and hence ought to go from the closet impelled by the expectation of seeing the Lord.
IV. SPONTANEITY. Participation should be voluntary. Anything constrained hurts the meeting. We need the flow of a fountain, not the spurt of a force-pump. Spontaneity indexes spirituality. The measure of the presence of the Spirit is shown by voluntariness of participation. If a believer takes part against his will, constrained by courtesy to the leader, his help is of doubtful value. Selection is too apt to he guided by intellectual standards. It is not always the most intelligent that most edify.
V. INFORMALITY (Acts 16:13). The prayer-meeting in primitive days was held in such places as suggested free, familiar interchange. The nearer the approach to a family gathering the better. Formality kills; all undue ceremony and dignity are hurtful.
VI. LIBERTY (2 Corinthians 3:17). This must be cultivated in ourselves and encouraged in others. Hypercriticism is its implacable foe. An aristocrat persistently advised me to do all the praying and talking, and keep others from taking part, except two whom he mentioned. All others "grated upon his ear." Alas! how are raw recruits to be developed to veterans without practice? The ideal meeting is where every one, even women, exercise the gift of the Spirit freely as led of God (Acts 1:14).
VII. SIMPLICITY. Rhetoric is generally addressed to the audience, not God. Even of the broken prayer the Lord "takes the meaning."
VIII. A SPIRITUAL, SCRIPTURAL TONE. If young people and new converts could be gathered weekly for training by the pastor or some competent person in knowledge of the Word and practice in public prayer, the prayer-meeting would show results. Conclusion: A few hints may be added as to the various exercises.
1. Praise. Song is very important, yet often perverted. The prayer-meeting is not a concert or a singing-school. The time is short — all exercises should be brief; the instrument should not be abused for playing symphonies and interludes. Awkwardness and delay in finding, reading, and starting the hymns are hurtful to impression.
2. Prayer must be audible, brief, direct.
3. The Word of God should be exalted always. Nothing so inspires faith, hope, and love, as the truth of God. Let the leader give at the outset one great thought from the Word, and set an example of point, pith, power, practical suggestion, and, above all, a Scriptural, spiritual frame of mind.
(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
WEB: What is it then, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up.