Speaking of maintenance-style prayer meetings, Steve Harper says bluntly that “they are not really prayer meetings.” In his useful little book Prayer Ministry in the Local Church, he concludes, “They are usually Bible studies with five minutes of prayer tacked on at the end.” Ours in California actually was given to prayer, but its conception and format were designed more to preserve the status quo of the inward-looking church then to break down its rigidities. By contrast, the frontline prayer assembly has a revolutionary purpose. The prayer of those who attend it is summarized in the words, “Thy kingdom come.”
Oswald Chambers shared these insights in My Utmost for His Highest.
The key to the missionary problem is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work; that is, not work as the word is popularly understood today because that may mean the evasion of concentration on God. The key to the missionary problem is not the key of common sense, nor the medical key, nor the key of civilization or education or even evangelization. They key is prayer. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest.” Naturally, prayer is not practical, it is absurd; we have to realize that prayer is stupid from the ordinary common-sense point of view.
There are no nations in Jesus Christ’s outlook, but the world. How many of us pray without respect of persons, and with respect to only one Person, Jesus Christ? He owns the harvest that is produced by distress and conviction of sin, and this is the harvest we have to pray that labourers may be thrust out to reap. We are taken up with active work while people all round are ripe to harvest, and we do not reap one of them, but waste our Lord’s time in overenergized activities. Suppose the crisis comes to your father’s life, in your brother’s life. Are you there as a labourer to reap the harvest for Jesus Christ? “Oh, but I have a special work to do!” No Christian has a special work to do. A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, one who is not above his Master, one who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do. Our Lord calls to no special work. He calls to Himself. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,” and He will engineer circumstances and thrust you out.
One final word. For years I have been fascinated with Jesus’ words to His disciples “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19). It is a joy to see that if we follow Him, He will make us to become fishers of men. Again, the idea of staying close to Jesus is the root of all evangelism. We are wildly convinced of Jesus through daily exposure, and we are madly in love with Him because of who we see He is; we can’t quit talking about Him to others.