Why people don’t go to prayer meetings (Frequently Unspoken Questions and Answers)

(An imagined conversation)

There’s going to be a half-night of prayer (7 pm to 11 pm) this Friday.

That’s nice for you. I won’t be there.


Look, I’ll be honest. It’s too boring.

What do you think a prayer meeting is like?

Old men mumbling into their beards and one person will pray for 20 minutes out loud to show off all the Bible verses they know.

It’s not like that – each time is different – but there is usually a particularly rich sense of being with God, and it becomes easier to hear him.

God is going to speak to me?!

It’s very likely. Like in any relationship, giving him time and attention helps. And if one way God speaks to us is through other people, then there’s a good chance of hearing him in a room of his people.

So what will you do?

Each time is different. There will probably be a Bible reading, quiet worshipful music, different places to sit or kneel or lie down.

Lie down??! This is getting weird.

You don’t have to lie down. But we make space for it for various reasons: to show utter dependence on God, or to rest in him. (Some people call this ‘soaking’).

I’m not spiritual enough. Or good enough.

Prayer is for people who want to connect with God. Period. It’s time spent with him.

I thought prayer was like a business meeting with God, where you sort out what needs doing?

He’s not a spiritual supermarket delivery where you hand him a list of what you want. He made us to have relationship with him. It’s more like an audience with the King. God is not at our beck and call – we are at his beck and call.

I can’t pray for 4 hours!

You don’t have to! Folks will be arriving and leaving throughout the time, not everybody will be there the whole time.

Anyway, I don’t like praying out loud.

That’s OK. You can agree with what others pray and so strengthen their prayers.

How long should I come for?

Why not try for an hour? It’s about the right length of time to get a taster.

I could just pray by myself at home.

Praying at home is good – but there’s lots of distractions: phonecalls, housework, callers, TV… but praying in a room with other people, you feel supported as you pray. It’s a shared experience, even when there is silence.

Silence!!? What’s the point in silence in prayer – there’s nothing going on! Nightmare. That sounds very embarrassing and awkward.

Silence sometimes happens because there’s a holy sense of God’s presence. He knows what we think and feel anyhow, so we don’t always have to speak everything out loud. Prayer can be silent adoration.

Nope, you’ve lost me there.

It’s like looking at beautiful scenery and simply enjoying it. Or a couple sitting together, not speaking, but enjoying the time together.

Will anything happen?

If you honestly do it, you will be changed.

I’ll probably forget to come

You could set an alarm on your mobile phone, block out an hour to be with God.

What should I bring?

A sense of expectancy. The Bible promises:

“Come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:8)

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