The Book of Acts is filled with prayer meetings; every forward thrust the first church made was immersed in prayer. Take another look at the church at Pentecost. They prayed ten days and preached ten minutes and three thousand people were saved. Today we pray ten minutes and preach ten days and are ecstatic if anyone is saved.
Ronald Dunn, quoted in Prayer: The real battle which I think is quoting Dunn’s book Don’t just stand there, pray something!
You may notice that the Acts 2 account of Pentecost doesn’t mention a ten day prayer meeting. The number comes from knowing the ascension of Jesus Christ was 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3) and that Pentecost was 50 days after it (Pentecost was, by definition, 50 days after the passover, which was when Jesus rose from the dead. Leviticus 23:16 refers to Pentecost). This leaves a ten day gap. At the start of those ten days, we read the disciples “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:14). In Acts 2:1 we read “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place”, and the idea that the intervening period was spent in prayer and supplication is an assumption.
At the moment I have a bit of a dilemma regarding the best use of a Wednesday evening. On the one hand is the Leeds juggling club, Hullabaloo. On the other hand, my home church has moved the Bible study and prayer meeting to a Wednesday. I don’t know a great number of people at Hullabaloo, but that’s a situation I want to rectify. There is a great mix of people, some of whom are very friendly, and some of whom are surly to say the least.
The Bible study has been a regular commitment for the last several years of my life for good reason. It gives me a focus on the spiritual while Sunday is still days away. It provides an opportunity to learn from the Bible and enjoy the fellowship and wisdom of older believers. It is the only time the whole church can come together for regular prayer. It helps form the habit of prioritising God (and the local church) above other aspects of life.
My dilemma arises because I rarely see my non-Christian friends. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people at the best of times when I don’t see them on a regular basis, and changing school before A-levels made it much harder. My friends at the school I studied GCSEs at changed a huge amount over the next two years, and became completely different people. I daresay the same happened to me. The friendships which had been built were never destroyed, but simply disappeared. The friends I made at the school where I did my A-levels were great guys, but only knew me for two years before we parted, and given they had known all their other friends for seven years I was never as close to them. I’m on good terms with my neighbours, but don’t see them too frequently.
Combine this with a full time job and chances to chat become much scarcer. This results in a distinct scarcity of opportunities to share Jesus with others. The Bible study benefits me; evangelism benefits both me and others. Having said that, evangelism will surely be most glorifying to God coming from a life of dedication to sanctification. My dilemma is not between studying the Bible and evangelising. My dilemma is between a church meeting and building friendships from which evangelism can arise. I don’t want to be a hit and run evangelist, but a genuine friend speaking from love for the Lord and concern for the souls of my fellow jugglers.
I’ve had varied advice from people I respect, so it wouldn’t hurt me to have more if people have opinions they want to share. The comment box is waiting.
Further reading on evangelism: http://joshsendlessthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-hast-thou-done.html