REVIVAL LECTURES - LECTURE VIII. - MEETINGS FOR PRAYER. paragraph 2 The design of prayer meetings - The manner of conducting them - Several things that will defeat the design of holding them.




REVIVAL LECTURES - LECTURE VIII. - MEETINGS FOR PRAYER. paragraph 4 The design of prayer meetings - The manner of conducting them - Several things that will defeat the design of holding them.

HITHERTO , in treating of the subject of PRAYER, I have confined my remarks to secret prayer. I am now to speak of social prayer, or prayer offered in company, where two or more are united in praying. Such meetings have been common from the time of Christ, and it is probable that God's people have always been in the habit of making united supplication, whenever they had the privilege. The propriety of the practice will not be questioned here. I need not dwell now on the duty of social prayer. Nor is it my design to discuss the question, whether any two Christians agreeing to ask any blessing, will be sure to obtain it. My object is to make some remarks on Meetings for Prayer, noting:



IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON III. TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS paragraph 33 Matthew, 15-6.-"Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition."

We have before us a striking illustration of the death-blow given by Universalist sentiments to the law of God. Their preaching universal salvation never makes men holier and better; never convinces of sin and promotes revivals of religion; never engages men in prayer, and effort for the enlightening of the world, and the salvation of immortal souls. Who ever knew the law of God, robbed of its penalty as exhibited by the Universalists, to reform a drunkard, rebuke and reclaim a debauchee; to bring the high-handed sinner upon his knees, and humble him as a little child. Who has not seen a case of this kind. A member of an orthodox church had been a praying man; attended church, was sober, honest, virtuous, and apparently religious. But by-and-by, he absented himself from the meetings for prayer, next he fled the sanctuary on the Sabbath; on inquiry, it was found that he neglected prayer in his family; on further search it was found he drank too much; he began to doubt whether there was an eternal hell; and on being excommunicated he became a Universalist.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 536 518 Lecture XIV. The Indications and The Guilt of Backsliding ...

Again, backsliding is fraught with mischief because it bewilders and stumbles inquirers. When they see professed Christians absent from church-meetings, and meetings for prayer, full of worldly interest and conversation, how fearfully does it retard God's work of grace in their souls!

7. Backsliding is fraught with guilt and unbelief because it naturally and greatly disheartens laboring Christians. Nothing discourages them more. Often have I heard such laborers mourn over the mischievous influence of backsliders, and say--How can we bear up against it? We cannot live so! We shall die!

IV. Explain the threatening--" I will spew thee out of my mouth."



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 599 574 Lecture XVI. The Primitive Prayer-Meeting ...

Often, when people stay away from meetings for prayer, they assign other than the true and real reason. They do not say frankly, I stay away because I cannot hear this or that brother pray. They profess to be too busy--too much and too urgently occupied; but really they do not assign even to themselves the true reason--the very thing which has kept them back from the meeting.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 601 574 Lecture XVI. The Primitive Prayer-Meeting ...

The fact is, brethren, our modern prayer-meetings are too cold and too constrained. Christians are not earnest in prayer. Their souls cannot become deeply burdened and earnestly agonized in supplication; they do not thirst enough for spiritual blessings, and have not the deep communion with God which is requisite for prevailing prayer. You know what a burden is felt in a prayer-meeting when the heart is thoroughly broken; when pride is abased, the soul humbled, and the entire energies are drawn out in earnest supplication. But there are few such meetings for prayer now. There is a lack of sustaining unanimity. It is a law of mind that union of heart sustains the interest and power of prayer. Did you never observe how you can sustain another in prayer, if you enter deeply into his sympathies? You uphold his faith and his fervor. I have often thought that the practice common among the Methodists, is useful if not abused. The responses that truly come from the heart serve to quicken and sustain genuine prayer. The responses introduced in the service of the Church of England are excellent, provided only that the heart be in them. I love to hear these sustaining responses and to know that I have the sympathizing heart of those who profess to be praying with me. Often our prayer-meetings are cold and profitless because there is no liberty and no free utterance. The spirit of prayer is straitened, because the natural expressions of deep feeling are repressed. Said an English Congregationalist, "I do wish our people could learn of the Methodists how to have a prayer-meeting." He felt the need of an unconstrained utterance and of a free expression of feeling. Now I would not sanction heartless noise and vociferation; that is not prayer and cannot help real prayer. There is a wide difference between that and a meeting in which the heart had free scope, and the Spirit of God is not straitened, but ranges with free scope and melting power. I have seen prayer-meetings in which manifestly the whole congregation went forth before God in mighty prayer. Some of you have seen such prayer. The hearts of the people were moved as the trees of the forest before a mighty rushing wind. Words seem as if freightened with irrepressible emotion. You can see that God is there. Everyone feels it. An awe of the Holy Presence pervades each heart. And yet they are not afraid, but are drawn into sweet confidence and most earnest pleading. Literally they seem to pour out their heats before him. This is true prayer, and meets the idea of social praying. It is a union of hearts before God's mercy-seat, the Spirit coming down to make intercession with their spirit with groanings that cannot be uttered. Every prayer-meeting should bear this character, modified only according to the type of those circumstances that call for prayer.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 167 91 Lectures III. & IV.Spiritual Delusion- No. 1 -- On Leaving One's First Love- No. 2 -- (This 2-part sermon was listed in the Table of Contents of the "Oberlin Evangelist" as "Spiritual Declension") ...

Now let me ask -- As I described this first love did you say -- I know all that; I have felt it; I have loved the precious Bible; I so loved meetings for prayer that I could have stayed in the hallowed place all night; yes I have known all that.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 1017 971 Lectures XVII. - XIX. Revival- No.'s 1 - 3 ...

2. This being the case, the hearts of the people must be laid open to the searching of the Spirit, and the searching of the word of God.

While people are afraid of being searched, afraid of having their hopes tried, afraid of laying their hearts open to the truth, they will never be revived.

3. Another condition of a revival's becoming general is, everything must be arranged in subordination to the progress of the work -- everything must be made to bend to this. I have sometimes seen that churches had prearranged a number of things to be attended to that were really of a worldly nature.

They had their machinery all in motion. They had their sewing meetings, their church social meetings, and a multitude of things that interfered greatly with holding religious meetings for prayer and effort. Now when the Holy Ghost is poured out, everything should be made to yield to His influences; everything should be given up. For if only the same meetings are to be held, and the same course is to be pursued that has been pursued while the church was cold and formal, there is no hope of a general revival of religion. Every change must be made that is necessary to accommodate yourselves to the movements of the Holy Ghost.



CHARLES G. FINNEY TESTIMONIAL OF REVIVALS, CHAPTER XXX. - LABORS IN HARTFORD AND IN SYRACUSE. paragraph 8 Brief labor in New York - Invitation to Hartford - Difficulty of cooperation among the pastors, adjusted - Timidity in regard to measures - Prayer meetings among converts - Organized effort - The churches in Syracuse - Cooperation of Christians - Interesting communion - Mrs. S's new baptism - Ladies' meetings - Taking up the Cross - Mother Austin's faith.

In this revival there was a great deal of praying. The young converts especially, gave themselves to very much prayer. One evening, as I learned, one of the young converts after the evening services, invited another to go home with him, and they would hold a season of prayer together. The Lord was with them, and the next evening they invited others, and the next evening more still, until the meeting became so large that they were obliged to divide it. These meetings were held after the preaching service. The second meeting soon became too large for the room, and that again was divided. And I understood that these meetings multiplied, until the young converts were almost universally in the habit of holding meetings for prayer, in different places, after the preaching service. Finally to these meetings they invited inquirers, and such as wished to be prayed for. This led to quite an organized effort, among the converts, for the salvation of souls.



CHARLES G. FINNEY TESTIMONIAL OF REVIVALS, CHAPTER XXXIII. - REVIVALS IN BOSTON IN 1856-57-58. paragraph 13 The pastor's renewal - Divided feeling - Establishment of prayer meetings - The South - Conversion of Mrs. M.

As I have said, it was carried on very much through the instrumentality of prayer meetings, personal visitation and conversation, by the distribution of tracts, and by the energetic efforts of the laity, men and women. Ministers nowhere opposed it that I am aware of. I believe they universally sympathized with it. But there was such a general confidence in the prevalence of prayer, that the people very extensively seemed to prefer meetings for prayer to meetings for preaching. The general impression seemed to be, "We have had instruction until we are hardened; it is time for us to pray." The answers to prayer were constant, and so striking as to arrest the attention of the people generally throughout the land. It was evident that in answer to prayer the windows of heaven were opened and the Spirit of God poured out like a flood. The New York Tribune at that time published several extras, filled with accounts of the progress of the revival in different parts of the United States.