Grumpoldman's church's attendance is very good and I am sure that every effort is being made to increase attendance at the Prayer Meeting. This reminds us of the need to constantly remind one another that every born-again child of God is a priest. The test is to what extent we are concerned to fulfil our priestly duties and priviledges. Individual prayer and communion is good, but there is a special blessing and power in collective prayer and worship. It is a small foretaste of our eternal and heavenly destiny.
Friends of ours attend a very large church where attendance at morning and evening Sunday services is good. As far as I remember they have a monthly prayer meeting for the whole congregation but meet weekly in smaller house groups for bible study and prayer. This might be an attractive way forward for large congregations and make collective prayer both attractive and rewarding. I venture these thoughts without any personal experience, having been in small fellowships most of my life. Personally I find myself more comfortable and engaged in a smaller gathering. Peter, your reference to the twos and threes is most interesting. I know that in our fellowship two or three ladies pray together regularly. Such devotional service must be pleasing to our Lord.
I too feel more comfortable in a smaller prayer/study group. That is just my preference.
Prayer to me is a personal thing and is much more meaningful when conducted in small groups. At our weekly prayer meeting we divide into three groups, that way more prayers are offered and people are more disposed to share their prayers. It is also easier to focus on a particular topic in a small group.
My church also has four house groups at various homes.
I have heard that in other nations, Sth Korea for example, prayer is said in unison so that no individual has the centre stage That was certainly my experience in India during a 2 week trip to Kolkata, and certainly very different to how we do things in the west.
I'm also more comfortable in small prayer groups. I always found it impossible to pray in a larger prayer meeting as I felt intimidated. That doesn't mean anyone would have criticised my prayers, and I'm sure they would have been pleased to hear me pray, but I just couldn't do it. Once I got over that initial fear in a small group I have felt more comfortable and have even been able to deliver the prayers when taking an entire service occasionally.
In a larger group, there is much more temptation for people to pray what they think others want to hear or to pray 'safe' prayers which won't offend anyone. I'm definitely not into deliberately offending others but fear of praying as our heart leads us can prevent us from tackling the issues which need to be prayed about and will, i suspect, make our prayers of little effect.
Public prayer, as well as private prayer, is a discipline and one which I continue to find a challenge. It is though enormously powerful when we pray consistently and with real conviction and faith.
There is a worldly view that the larger the number of people praying in a single group, then the more that God is likely to respond.
At the centre of the last Lewis Revival were two elderly spinsters who were 'in touch' with God.
Some of the riches times of prayer I have experienced have been in small groups; taking time (hours) in God's prescence for the Holy Spirit to lead the prayer.
In an Inverness church in the mid-80s prayer triplets (and quartets) were set up two years prior to a week-long series of outreach events. People came to know that Lord without human intervention BEFORE the mission started.
And approx. 70 poeple either came to faith or renewed their Christan commitment during the week of outreach.
The Holy Spirit was flowing in amazing ways. The Church Officer had difficulty getting the evening worshippers to go home. It was often well after 9.00pm (the service started at 6.30pm) before people would (reluctantly) go home.
But prayer, as we know, is hard work. Every year Ellel Scotland (based near Huntly) host a week of prayer for Israel. On each evening Jewish Messianic leaders brief those attending on the various situations in the country (so that informed prayer can be made). Then the days are given over to prayer (mainly in small groups. The week needs a substantial measure of stamina; and is much more taxing that a normal Christian conference lasting the same period of time.