THE LORD’S SUPPER
This solemn act of remembrance was instituted by the Lord Jesus on
the night of His betrayal. Immediately after He had celebrated the last
Passover with His disciples, He introduced what we know as the Lord’s
supper. “He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto
them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you: this do in
remembrance of me.’ Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This
cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.’ ” (Luke 22:19, 20).
1. Why Keep the Feast?
With regard to the significance of this
ordinance, certain facts are presented. First, it is an occasion for
remembrance. The Savior said, “This do in remembrance of Me.” It is a
time to remember His sufferings and death, the giving of His body, the
shedding of His blood. Here Calvary with all its sacred associations
passes before the minds of the participants. It is quite impossible
thus to remember the passion of the Lord Jesus without responding to
God with worship and praise. Thus the Lord’s supper is a time of public
worship, a time of adoring God for all He is and all He has done.
Then again, the Lord’s supper is a public
witness to the unity of the body of Christ. The loaf of bread is a
picture of the body of Christ, made up of all true believers. In
partaking of the bread, the believer testifies that he is one with
every true child of God. In drinking of the cup, he acknowledges that
he is one with everyone who has been cleansed by the precious blood (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17).
Finally, the Lord’s supper is a constant
reminder that the One who instituted this memorial of Himself is coming
again. “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do
show the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Thus, the worshipper not only looks back to Golgotha and remembers Him
in His death, he not only looks upward to the Throne of God and praises
Him for an accomplished redemption, but he also looks forward to that
moment when the Lord will descend from heaven and take His waiting
2. As Oft As Ye Do
With regard to the time and frequency of
the Lord’s supper, the Scriptures do not command in the language of
law, but entreat with the voice of grace. In Acts 20:7,
it is stated that “upon the first day of the week, . . . the disciples
came together to break bread.” The first day of the week is the Lord’s
Day, or Sunday. It is the day of the Lord’s resurrection and a fitting
day for His people to meet together for worship and remembrance. The
instruction is, “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The moment a person says it must be observed every week, or month, or
quarter, he has gone beyond what the Bible says. At the same time, the
probability is very strong that the early disciples met every week to
remember the Lord.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon argued strongly
for a weekly observance of the Lord’s supper. “My witness is, and I
think I speak the mind of many of God’s people now present, that coming
as some of us do, weekly, to the Lord’s Table, we do not find the
breaking of bread to have lost its significance—it is always fresh to
us. I have often remarked on the Lord’s day, whatever the subject may
have been, whether Sinai has thundered over our heads, or the plaintive
notes of Calvary have pierced our hearts, it always seems equally
appropriate to come to the breaking of bread. Shame on the Christian
church that she should put it off to once a month, and mar the first
day of the week by depriving it of its glory in the meeting together
for fellowship and breaking of bread, and showing forth the death of
Christ till He come. They who once know the sweetness of each Lord’s
day celebrating His supper will not be content, I am sure, to put it
off to less frequent seasons.”
Jonathan Edwards also was an advocate of
a weekly remembrance of the Lord. “It seems plain by the Scripture,
that the primitive Christians were wont to celebrate this memorial of
the sufferings of their dear Redeemer every Lord’s Day, and so I
believe it will be again in the church of Christ in days that are
It should scarcely need to be mentioned
that the Lord’s supper is only for Christians. Only those who have been
redeemed are eligible and capable of entering into its sacred meaning.
Christians themselves should partake of the emblems in a judged
condition (1 Corinthians 11:28). Sin must be confessed and forsaken, and the emblems must be taken in a worthy manner (1 Corinthians 11: 21, 22). All who partake without judging themselves are in danger of being chastened by the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29-32).
Here again it is good to remind ourselves
that it is possible to eat the bread and drink the wine without really
remembering the Lord. It is possible to reduce this ordinance to a mere
ritual if our heart does not answer to what we are doing in symbol. Our
lives must be in fellowship with God if we are truly to obey His words,
Not very much information is given in the New Testament concerning
the meetings of the local church. we do know that the Christians
assembled for fellowship, prayer, ministry of the Word, and breaking of
bread (Acts 2:42);
but beyond that there seems to be a veil. As far as gospel testimony is
concerned, that appears to have been carried on by the individual
Christian outside the confines of the assembly, wherever the unsaved
could be reached, but always with the idea of bringing the ones who
were saved into the fellowship of a local church.
In all the gatherings of the early assemblies, certainly nothing was
more prominent than prayer. In fact, the church was born in the wake of
prayer (Acts 1:14), and thereafter the Christians “continued steadfastly in prayer” (Acts 2:42).
The Book of Acts presents numerous instances of prayer, at all times
and in all places. Indeed, the entire history of the church is a
tribute to the faithfulness of God who answers prayer.
1. A Special Promise
We do well to remind ourselves constantly
that collective prayer not only has divine sanction, but carries with
it a special promise of the presence of the Lord Himself. In Matthew
18:19 and 20, we read, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall
agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be
done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three
are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Language could scarcely be clearer than this. We have a twofold pledge
that cannot be broken. First, when two believers are united in
presenting a petition to God, that request is answered. Secondly, when
Christians are gathered in the Name of the Lord Jesus, He is there in
their midst. The trouble is that we do not believe it. If we did, our
prayer meetings would be filled, and our churches would be on fire for
2. How to Pray as a Group
In considering the subject of collective
prayer, we should like at the outset to present a few elementary facts
concerning it. First of all, in a prayer meeting, one person leads at a
time. The others are silent, but actually all are praying. The one
whose voice is audible is expressing the prayers of the group. The
others follow him as he prays, and makes his prayer their own.
Oftentimes they express this unity of spirit by saying “Amen.” Next, we
want to mention that there is a big difference between “saying prayers”
and praying. There is a children’s hymn which makes this distinction:
I often say my prayers,
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the words I say?
I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.
For words without the heart,
The Lord will never hear,
Nor will He to those lips attend,
Whose prayers are not sincere.
There is nothing that will kill a prayer
meeting more quickly than a series of rehearsed prayers where there is
no real heart interest. Too often we just go through a list of empty
petitions. The prayers of young converts are usually refreshing because
they are spontaneous and fresh. But older Christians frequently fall
into a pattern of prayer that is useless for God or man. It has been
well said, “Meetings where prayers are offered from a sense of duty
only, need closing down.”
Another danger that should be avoided is
long prayers. It is true that Scripture says “Pray without ceasing,”
but this does not authorize an individual to monopolize the time in the
prayer meeting. If the prayers are short and many men take part, the
interest will be increased.
Then, too, our requests should be
specific. Do not pray, “God, save many souls throughout the world.”
Better pray, “Lord, save my brother, David.” Then when David is saved,
you will know your prayer has been answered and you will be encouraged
to pray for others by name.
3. Be Specific
There is no reason why any prayer meeting
should be a dull affair. There are plenty of specific requests which we
can bring to the Throne of Grace. Here are a few of them.
Pray for those who are in authority over
us, mentioning them by name. Pray that they might be saved, and that we
might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:2).
Pray for those who are sick in your
church. The Lord knows who they are, but maybe some of the Christians
don’t, so give their names.
Pray for unsaved relatives and friends.
We should never be ashamed to have our loved ones mentioned in the
prayer meeting. If we really want them to be saved, we will welcome the
prayer support of the church.
Pray for the elders in the church. They
have important responsibilities which require wisdom and patience. They
deserve an interest in your supplications.
Pray for missionaries who have gone out
from your local church. if you correspond with them from time to time,
you will know what problems they are facing and what their needs might
Pray for the Sunday School, for its
superintendent, for the teachers, and for the boys and girls who are
being taught the Word of God.
Pray for the poor. If it would cause embarrassment to anyone present, it might be better to withhold names in this instance.
Pray for the men and women from your
assembly in the armed forces. They face dangers, temptations and
trials. They need your prayers.
Pray for those who are engaged in the work of the Lord, such as evangelists and teachers.
Then in your prayers be sure to include thanksgiving. This is forcefully brought before us in Philippians 4:6.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
The Lord rightfully expects His people to be thankful. Ingratitude for all His mercies is sin.
4. Important Conditions
But are there not conditions that must be observed if our prayers are to be answered? Indeed there are!
First, we must abide in Christ. He said,
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye
will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). Abiding in Christ is keeping His commandments, doing His will, obeying His Word.
Secondly, our prayers should be according
to His will. “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if
we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:14). Since the general outline of God’s will is found in the Bible, our requests should be scriptural.
Third, our requests should be offered in
the Name of Christ. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will
I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it you” (John 16:23). When we truly ask in His Name, it is the same as if He were making the request to God.
Finally, our motives must be pure. James
reminds us that we ask and receive not because we ask amiss, that we
may consume it upon our lusts (James 4:3). If our motives are selfish and sinful, we cannot expect an answer.
5. A Few Rules to Remember
There are a few more do’s and don’t’s
which should be mentioned if our prayer meetings are going to be “the
power-house of the church.” For instance, do not pray to be seen. The
hypocrites, you remember, love to stand praying in the corners of the
streets that they may be seen of men (Matthew 6:5).
Again, do not ask God to do something you can do yourself. We ask God
to bring the unsaved into our Gospel meetings. Does He not expect us to
use our lips to invite them and our cars to bring them? And be careful
that you do not ask for something you know you should not have. God
sometimes grants such requests but sends leanness to the soul (Psalm 106:15).
Do not be discouraged if the answer does not come immediately. God’s
answers are never too early lest we miss the blessedness of waiting
upon Him; they are never too late lest we fear we have trusted Him in
vain. Then, if God’s answer is not just exactly what you asked for,
remember this! The Lord reserves the right to give us something better
than we ask for. We do not know what is best for us, but He does, and
so He gives us more than we could ever ask or think.
Finally let us emphasize that there can
be no real progress in the church without prayer. We can go through a
routine, and produce even seeming results, but nothing is accomplished
for God apart from intercession. If we do not see this conclusion from
the Scriptures, we will be soon driven to it by sheer necessity.