Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English pastor of the 18th century, is commonly honored as the “Prince of Preachers.” But, Mr. Spurgeon was among the first to give credit where credit is due: he considered the faithful, praying members to be “the powerhouse of this church.” The “engine room” of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle, as he called it, was the basement where people gathered on their knees asking the Lord for His blessing. According to Spurgeon, the prayer meeting was the spiritual thermometer of the church as “souls stormed the celestial city with the might of their intercession.” 
Priority of Corporate Prayer
If we were able to take a measurement, what do you think would be the average spiritual temperature of churches today—a healthy body temperature of 98.6 or a feverishly high reading exceeding 100 degrees? If prayer meetings are the accurate spiritual gauge, Spurgeon might say that many churches (certainly not all!) are languishing on life support in ICU.
It’s time for the church, and for Christians everywhere, to take stock of its priority for prayer and honestly ask ourselves some hard questions. Could it be we live powerless lives, and attend powerless churches, because we’ve given up the vibrant prayer gathering in favor of a church-wide supper, committee meeting or an extra Bible lecture? There’s nothing wrong with those good activities, but the trade is a rip-off. What could be gained if we once again stoked the fires of the prayer engine room in churches and homes across America? In one word, change.
The change that’s so desperately needed in our world simply will not happen by casting a vote, rearranging our financial portfolios, or shouting on social media. Only God’s divine power can bring deep-rooted change. Change happens as God performs His work through the powerhouse of corporate prayer.
It’s been noted from the original Greek language, that when Jesus taught on prayer, he referred to corporate prayer nearly ten times more than he addressed personal, private prayer. Jesus clearly expected the early church to gather together for prayer—and to anticipate powerful results (Acts 4:31; 12:5-17; 13:1–3; 16:25–26). Likewise, the apostle Paul advised the young pastor Timothy to make prayer the top priority of the church.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. (1 Tim. 2:1)
When you hear the latest headline news, after retreating to your prayer closet, will you be a woman of courage who gathers people to join with you in crying out to the God of heaven? Let’s venture beyond the neat borders of praying for our immediate needs and into forcibly impacting the world, nation, community, church, and all of God’s family for His Kingdom purposes.
The idea of initiating a prayer group may sound intimidating, but let me ease your mind.
Basic Principles of Prayer
God is looking for sincere, humble hearts, not the perfectly worded prayers (Jer 29:12-13, Rom. 8:26). Our tendency is to make prayer complicated. We’re overly concerned with whether we’re getting it wrong or whether we’re getting it right. There’s no magic formula but understanding the basic principles for personal and corporate prayer boosts our confidence:
- Focus on prayer as intimacy with the person of God instead of a formula to finagle what we want or think we need. It’s a conversation in pursuit of a deeper relationship.
- Fill your prayer time with Scripture. Pray it back to God with joyful adoration and thanksgiving.
- Respond obediently to the Spirit’s prompting to personally apply His Word.
- Ask Him to guide your intercession according to His truth and Kingdom plan.
- Learn to listen to God’s voice as He speaks through the Bible.
- In faith, praise His perfect answers and perfect timing while you wait. Pray, “Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever!”
Create Space for Corporate Prayer
With those reminders in mind, here are a few ideas to inspire you to create space for gathering with friends to pray:
- Pray for a faithful prayer partner (or two or three!) who you can pray with weekly- even if only by telephone.
- Establish a recurring Skype call or Facebook group with women who share your burden for prayer. This prayer group has no geographic limitations!
- Re-energize your church groups like Sunday School or small group by asking leaders to allocate time for Kingdom-based corporate prayer.
- Open your home once a week or once a month for neighbors to gather to seek God together.
- Get active! Take regular prayer walks with friends.
- Pray before or during the church worship service and invite members to join you.
- Pray with your children while driving.
- Huddle up with co-workers during lunch, or before the work day begins.
- Research your area and find an existing prayer group to join.
Once we begin to turn up the heat on our commitment to prayer, over time you’ll notice that a transformation is taking place. Not only will there be evidence of change around you, change will occur inside you—and it will be undeniably glorious!
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)
Are you involved in a women’s prayer group? How have you witnessed God’s hand at work when uniting to pray with others?
 In Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon
About the Author:
Leslie Bennett loves encouraging women to adorn the gospel in their femininity through her writing and speaking ministry. She connects with leaders all over the world in her role in Women’s Ministry Initiatives at Revive Our Hearts, but at the end of the day, she and her husband, Mac, call the Lowcountry of S.C. home.