It is with joy that I respond now to a calling that has been heart concerting for some time now. Beginning this Tuesday, February 4, I will give spiritual leadership to a Weekly Prayer Meeting at Salem AME Church, 1800 4th Ave. N where the Rev. Dr. Janie Dowdy Dandridge is now serving as Pastor.
The gift of a praying spirit is one that should never be taken for granted. I can’t help but recall how I have experienced the traditional Church (Wednesday Night) Prayer Meeting go from a center point to near extinction. How relative to our times… near extinction! Even to the point of visiting a Church that has ‘no Pastoral Prayer’ in the Order of Worship on Sunday Morning. I was in Memphis 2 weeks ago to attend the Funeral services for the Husband of a very dear TSU classmate. His parents were so distraught that they waited in the vestibule while the body was being viewed. I went to Nate’s Mother and taking her by the hand, in her ear I sang “Saviour more than life to me, I am clinging, clinging, close to Thee… Every day, every hour, let me feel thy cleansing power”. And I prayed a prayer for a Mother’s broken heartedness. As the service progressed I soon realized that there was no prayer, of any kind, in the Order of Service. Neither did any one of the Ministers call the mourners to prayer. I wonder now if the prayer for Mother Wallace was the only prayer given on this day in a Church, in a City whose crime meter is set so very high.
Three scriptures have undergirded this ‘prayer wheel turning’ as I have brought them together for purpose driven Church service of Prayer on Tuesday nights at 6:30 pm. First, it is a ‘Call To Prayer’. And from the ‘Sermon On The Mount’: “Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9f). There is pressing need that the attention of the Church should be earnestly awakened to the subject of prayer. There is danger in omitting this institution.
Second, it is a ‘Call To Prayer Meeting’. A return to the OLD (Testament): “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14). The Prayer Meeting is the rallying point where the power of faith in the Church concentrates and takes hold of the arm that moves the world.
Third, it is a ‘Call To Prayer Meeting Weekly’. So from Mark’s Gospel: “And he said unto them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”“ (Mark 9:29). Far more than just cliche is the wisdom in the saying ‘Prayer changes things!’ It is specially a means of developing and cultivating Christian graces, and promoting comfort, healing, individual and social edification.
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.” Proseuchomai’— ‘calling on God’ gets real deep in it’s meaning. It is not an economic request; Jesus took no thought for shelter, clothing or food. ‘Proseuchomai’ means ‘calling on God’! It is a fact of faith— the presence of God. It is no small thing that Christians have difficulty with a public prayer. The late great Dr. Major J. Jones said in one of his sermons, “If I had my way I would tilt the world and everything would come to me”. Prophetic— indeed! But are we prepared to ‘call on God’? I think not, because when we stand in His Presence, it is total commitment to ‘His Will’— (for all the nations) not mine that —shall be done.”
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