Do you remember the story of Cinderella? She was the step-daughter who was mocked and humiliated by her family. All the attention went to her step-sisters who were well-groomed, glamorous, popular, and festive. Meanwhile, Cinderella, the woman of beauty both inside and out, was isolated and neglected; she was left at home while the rest of her family went to the grand ball.
In some sense, the midweek prayer meeting is the Cinderella of the church. Hear the words of a former minister, Leonard Ravenhill, “The Cinderella of the church of today is the prayer meeting. This handmaid of the Lord is unloved and unwed because she is not dripping with the pearls of intellectualism, nor glamours with the silks of philosophy, neither is she enchanting with the tiara of psychology. She wears the homespuns of sincerity and humility and so is not afraid to kneel.”*
His words were written in 1959 and the trajectory has not changed. Today, the midweek prayer meeting has largely gone the way of the dinosaur. She was an ancient relic of the protestant church that has become extinct because she was not easy, convenient, exciting, entertaining, and well attended.
And is the church better off today? I don’t think so. We gather and fellowship less than the church of our fathers. We read Scripture less and have a diminished comprehension of God’s Word in comparison to our parents. In addition to having a waining personal and family prayer life, our corporate time of prayer is almost zilch.
So, perhaps it is time to go get Cinderella, but allow me to go ahead and address some questions:
- Yes, it is true that the Bible does not command the Wednesday night prayer meeting.
- Yes, it is true that one can unrighteously judge another individual for not attending.
- Yes, it is true that one can unrighteously judge another church for not hosting a Wednesday evening assembly.
- Yes, praying on Tuesday or Thursday is equally sufficient.
- Yes, will seek to earn righteousness by attending.
- Yes, some will accumulate pride due to their faithful commitment to the hour of prayer.
- Yes, it is true the prayer meeting can become a tool and a means of legalism.
However, allow me to paint a different picture:
- Is more corporate prayer a good thing?
- Are we anywhere close to praying so much that it is hurting our family life or our evangelism?
- Does God promise to answer prayer?
- Does God tell us he answers not because we ask not?
- Would not we like to see more conversions?
- Would not we like to see more repentance from prodigals?
- Would not we like to see unusual Holy Spirit fire accompanying the preached Word?
- Would not we like to see more people physically healed due to the prayer of elders with their flock?
- Are we really going to say the church is stronger today than it was 56 years ago?
- Are not prioritizing, planning, and scheduling marks of the godly, wise, and disciplined man?
- Would not Scriptural knowledge and application be increased as we prayed together through the Word?
- Would not our children believe our religion is a higher priority in our lives?
- Would not we have greater fellowship as we interceded and confessed our sins one to another?
- Would not the world be impressed by our love one for another?
- Would not the church be a greater place of unity and peace as fellow soldiers were found on their knees?
Friends, we do not have a Wednesday night prayer meeting at our church. But oh how I desire such. As a fallen minister of the Gospel, I need a strong group of people gathered about me talking to our Lord and Savior. Perhaps the Lord will move and my fellow elders and congregants will long for this as well. But until then, we will still gather for prayer and Bible study on Sunday nights. At least some of us will.
* Why Revival Tarries, Leonard Ravenhill, Ravenhill Books, 1959, 1.