And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were
assembled together.........(Acts 4:31). Peter therefore was kept in prison; but prayer was
made without ceasing of the church unto God for him......Peter came to the house of Mary
the mother of John, where many were gathered together praying (Acts 12:5,12). Pray without
ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
If prayer indicates our dependency on God, the Father, as His children,
and if the church is dependent on Christ, the Head of the Church, for her subsistence,
then the church must be filled with those who want to pray. As a person cannot live
physically without air, so the church cannot live without prayer. Every meeting should
begin and end with prayer. There should be gatherings for the sole purpose of praying as
we note was the case in the verses above from the book of Acts. Prayer brings us together
and it lifts us up into the presence of our Living Head. It brings together all the pieces
of armor that we need to fight the enemy. "Above all, taking the shield of faith,
wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Praying always
with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit..... (Eph. 6:16-18). The early church
prayed without ceasing and we must pray without ceasing. We must pray perseveringly if we
are going to see the power of God working in our midst. Prayer is the least complicated
mark and yet the most vital mark of a New Testament church.
A distinguishing characteristic of a true New Testament church is that
its atmosphere is filled with prayer. In writing to the church at Rome, Paul tells
them that they should be "continuing instant (steadfast) in prayer" (Rom.
12:12). How long, how long, will it take the church of our day to learn the vital
importance of prayer! Our weakness is not traced to weak programs. Our weakness is traced
to our failure to pray earnestly and continuously.
The questions then to be asked in looking for a New Testament Church
are: Are there as many saints at the prayer meeting as there are on Sunday morning? Are
those responsible for leadership given to prayer? Is prayer given a vital place in all the
meetings of the church?
These are questions everyone of us should be asking and we should be
deeply exercised to change the answers of each of these questions to "Yes" if it
is presently "No."