Notes and quotes from The Prayers of Many by Mike Betts.
1. Church prayer meetings are in decline and in some churches have already died.
2. “Corporate worship in church life has been changed beyond recognition in the past 30 years through much energy and creativity. Imagine what corporate prayer in church life would look like now if the same attention had been given to that.” [Though I’m not sure the change in corporate worship is a good thing, the sentiment in giving more attention to corporate prayer is a good one].
3. Impatience and individualism are two factors that have contributed to the decline.
4. “If you more easily think “how does this apply to me?” and not “how does this apply to us?” then you are thinking individually not corporately.”
5. Corporate prayer in the life of God’s people is something to prize and pursue.
6. Praying together is a normal part of being a believer in Christ.
7. “I have found that when I pray with others I can do better, reach higher, concentrate for longer, find words and “amen” others’ prayers in a way that would simply not be possible if I were on my own.”
8. Charles Spurgeon: “Go home and say to your minister, “Sir, we must have more prayer.” Urge the people to more prayer. Have a prayer-meeting, even if you have it all to yourself; and if you are asked how many were present, you can say, “Four.” “Four! How so?” “Why, there was myself, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and we have had a rich and real communion together.” We must have an outpouring of real devotion, or else what is to become of many of our churches?”
9. What is praying together like? It is like:
Digging ditches ahead of a flood;
Kindling a fire;
An orchestra playing;
Serving the devil an eviction notice;
And uprooting a tree.
10. “Church history seems to suggest that a move of God occurs when the spiritual ground is almost desert-like.”
11. Prayer meetings can benefit from saying, as Elisha did, “bring us a minstrel.” It is good to sing when we pray. “Before lifting up our voices together in prayer, we lift them up together in praise.”
12. Corporate prayer is like digging up ditches in order to prepare for God to act. It will require effort.
13. We pray for things we have as yet not seen.
14. “The church should not look for individual superheroes but we should look for a united and equipped ‘body’ – the church.”
15. We must never programme or plan church life to such an extent that we cannot respond with corporate prayer to an unforeseen event.
16. If the devil can persuade us that it is peacetime when we are in fact at war, then he has scored a major tactical victory.
17. Note how often the apostle Paul writes to the churches saying “please pray for me”. That’s an encouragement for leaders to ask for prayer.
18. “Our ultimate confidence is not in our praying but in the power and authority of Christ who has and will crush all our enemies under His feet.”
19. “If we have sanitised church to make it look slick all the time, we have lost not only the rawness of human interaction with God but we have lost what family is all about as church. The church is not a West End show and it’s not business showpiece with a keynote talk. It is a family and it is more akin to a Christmas dinner table gathering than a formal dinner jacket affair.”
20. Where do people learn how to pray and to care about the things God care about? By being in prayer meetings.
21. In a prayer meeting crucial components are: content, timing, pace, leadership and flow.
22. “I’ve never regretted praying… when I’ve prayed I’m always glad I did.”
23. “One of the best ways to build unity is to pray together. Praying has a way of joining hearts that might not otherwise be joined.”
24. A great prayer agenda from Jonathan Edwards – “for the awakening of the church in our town and beyond. And the spread of the kingdom of God worldwide.”
25. “We do not love corporate prayer, we love the Lord, and our prayers are a way to express our love for Him and draw nearer to Him.”
26. People should pray for and with one another outside the corporate prayer meeting.
27. “The best way to raise a church to be a praying community is by seizing every opportunity to practice together.”
28. Don’t discount children from participating in church prayer meetings. They can teach us that our prayers don’t have to be complex or long.
29. John Chrysostom: “Among human beings, importunate asking, seeking and knocking are considered rude, ‘troublesome and disgusting’, but with God, not to come asking eagerly is displeasing.”
30. “One of the hindrances to maintaining commitment to long term corporate prayer is that we often do not see any immediate difference after we have prayed.”
31. Pray in faith. Believe God’s promises. Trust God is who He says He is and has done what He says He has.
32. “I’m calling for an army of regulars. An army of ordinary people who stand together, helping each other believe Jesus when He, in effect, says “Listen folks, when you pray things happen.”
33. Jonathan Edwards invited all the churches he had connection with to join him in regular set times to pray. They prayed in their different places, for a season about the same thing. Check out his book ‘An Humble Attempt’. It is encouraging to read of the Enough initiative Mike Betts is heading up which is his own ‘humble attempt’ where he’s invited local churches to join together, in hubs, to pray in different places, at the same time, focusing prayers around similar themes.
34. Jonathan Edwards: “That which God abundantly makes the subject of his promises, God’s people should abundantly make the subject of their prayers.”
35. There’s something powerful about many people praying together.
36. “Non-charismatic churches are often better at praying as they don’t know what else to do!”
37. Learn how to pray God’s promises back to Him.
38. Don’t despise collections of written prayers of praying the creeds.
39. As someone who would not be ‘charismatic’ in their theology, there were odd moments where I wasn’t convinced by what Betts was saying. However, the basic message of the book I’d give a loud ‘Amen’ to, and there was plenty of good stuff as the 38 points above make clear.