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thanks together. Here all may make melody in their hearts tegether. Everything here is plain. Everything here finds an easy application in the prayer-meeting. To all Christians “not forsaking the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another," in the prayer-meeting assembly, every word of exhortation here is plain, naturally pointing to this ordinance for its full and appropriate application. To all Christians, free from partisan obliquity, and having no sectarian object to gain, tempting to the invention of interpretation forced and unnatural, these precious texts will furnish “sincere milk," nourishing to babes, in the prayer-meeting, where“ brethren dwell together in unity."
In another connection we shall have farther use for these plain portions of the word of Christ.
6. The prayer-meeting is encouraged and sanctioned by Bible promise.
The promises encouraging and sanctioning the prayermeeting are of two kinds. There are general promises sanctioning prayer simply-all kinds of prayer, and without reference to any particular form or kind, and equally available and applicable to all. There are also special promises made in specific terms for the encouragement of social prayer, and to the prayer-meeting.
Promises made to warrant prayer, in general, are all promises encouraging social prayer, since social religion and social worship are equally authorized with personal and individual. Then all such promises as these and they are very numerous and full-encourage and sanction the prayer-meeting, "Ask, and ye shall receive;" “Seek, and ye shall find;" “Knock, and it shall be opened ;" “Whatsoever ye ask believing, ye shall receive." “ Whatsoever ye ask in my name, that will I do."
Still other and various forms of promise encourage to social prayer, in common. God
God is revealed as the Hearer of prayer—as having a throne of grace from which he hears and answers prayer. He has opened a way of access to the mercy-seat. There is One appointed as a Mediator and Intercessor, in whose name all are authorized to pray. Another Intercessor, the Spirit, is sent to intercede within and inspire the heart with desires and groanings that will be acceptable to the Hearer of prayer. God has appointed prayer as his way of dispensing, and our way of obtaining all promised good. There are general commands enforcing all kinds of prayer, and all these imply encouraging promise. All these, and many other general forms of promise, encourage and sanction social prayer equally with all the other forms of prayer recognized in the word. There are also special promises expressly sanctioning social prayer and the prayer-meeting, just as there are special promises sanctioning secret prayer, and of equal force, authorizing it as an ordinance of religious worship.
If there are special promises made to any number of persons, two or more, encouraging them to agree to meet together and pray together; if special promises of Christ's presence are made to such meeting as approved by Him, and that such prayers made there shall be heard and answered, then the prayer-meeting is authorized by the Head of the church as a divine ordinance.
Christ told his disciples, “That if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. xviii. 19. This promise will warrant any two Christians to confer together touching any proper subject of prayer, to agree to go together jointly to a place of prayer, and there together pray for that thing, assured that our Father in heaven will do for them as they shall thus ask. Then, farther, the promise takes a specific form, and is directed to the place—the meeting where the prayer of two is offered to God. “There am I in the midst of them.” Christ is present where two meet together, by agreement, to pray. Still clearer is the application of the promise to the divinely appointed ordinance of the social prayer-meeting--to any meeting for prayer, of any Christian people desiring to worship God in spirit and in truth. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." But the meeting in Christ's name is a meeting bearing the stamp of his authority. His Name written thereon marks the Institution as his, and is the evidence of his appointment, and the divinity of the ordinance; for any other way not appointed in his word, and so not in his name, must fail to secure his promised presence. His presence is secured where his name is recorded, not elsewhere. The divine warrant for the voluntary prayer
meeting, formed by consent and agreement of two or more Christians, is here as clearly stated as in the form of promise any warrant, or divine appointment, can have a statement. The prayer-meeting, thus having the impress of Christ's name, has the advantage of a reduplication of general promise, and so, in terms, applied to the prayermeeting as of unquestioned divine appointment. To this end, the following promise of general character may here be specifically applied: "In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” Ex. xx. 24. This record of Christ's name, and pledge of his presence and blessing, establishes finally the truth of the doctrine_"the prayer-meeting is a divine ordinance of religious worship, instituted by Christ in his word.”
THE EXERCISES OF THE PRAYER-MEETING.
1. Prayer. THIS is the principal exercise, from which the Institu
tion and the meeting receive the distinctive name. Around this the other exercises cluster as appendages, some of which may not be so essential that circumstances might not warrant their omission. But we can hardly conceive of an assembly convened for the worship of God in which it would be proper to omit prayer. In all our ways God should be acknowledged; and prayer seems to be the appropriate, if not the only, way of acknowledging him, as required in his word, and in observing the ordinances of his appointment. In nearly every reference already made, in endeavoring to establish the divine warrant for this ordinance of worship, prayer is expressly noticed as the essential element in the exercises of this meeting. In many of them, it is probable, there was nothing but prayer and conference; as in the case of Jonah and the mariners, Christ and his disciples at night in the garden, and the impromptu prayer-meeting of Paul and the elders of the church at Ephesus at their parting farewell.
In regard to this exercise, the Scriptures seem to give prominence to concerted prayer. And to this we ask particular attention: First, Because of the intrinsic importance of this much neglected, if not entirely overlooked, duty and very precious privilege-concert in prayer. And, Secondly, Because here we are furnished with strong and satisfactory evidence of the divine appointment of the prayer-meeting; for, it is hard to conceive of concerted prayer as separable from two or more together praying for the same thing by previous agreement. But this is the prayer-meeting. "If two of you shall agree as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my
Father which is in heaven." In this connection we have reference to the prayer-meeting, where the concerted prayer is understood to be made—"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt. xviii. 19, 20. This gives warrant and encouragement for agreement, in every meeting for prayer, upon some matter of petition which, for the time, shall be the special object of joint supplication. And here seems to be one of the special channels through which God sends down special blessings. What a stimulant here to both prayer and faith! There is a power in conferring and covenanting, on the part of kindred spirits, to come before God, and plead together some special promise-an incentive power to awaken in the hearts of God's people a soul-warming exercise of grace.
If concerted social prayer-united prayer for some specific object, made the matter of voluntary covenant, agreed upon by two or more-be warranted as a divinely appointed way of worship, it is then a Christian duty, and privilege as well, on which hang consequences involving the spiritual interests of the soul, and the vital interests of the cause of religion. This being so, if it be neglected by the church, and Christians overlook it, great loss must consequently be experienced. In so vital a matter, interfering with a channel which God has opened, and through which he conveys richest blessings, this loss will be, and as we think is, felt in the low state of religion evidently prevailing everywhere throughout all the departments of