Brethren, you want to characterize the early New Testament church? It is this: They were devoted to corporate prayer. Their elders were devoted to prayer, and they themselves were devoted. Devoted to the designated times of prayer, elders who give themselves in devoted fashion to prayer, each of us individually devoted.
You ever wonder what a healthy church looks like? Devoted to prayer. What is that? Our souls often rising up before the Lord. We need a people who are constant in this; devoted to this; who give the Lord no rest. Some of you are familiar with the text out of Isaiah 62. Listen to this, "You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth." Do you recognize God Himself says to you, "Church, give me no rest. I want to be sought often by you. You don't take rest, and give Me no rest. In other words, bother Me. Bother Me with your frequent prayers. Come." You say, "It's too trivial." He says, "Bother Me." "It's too great." He says, "Bother Me." "I've already asked Him fifty times." He says, "Bother Me. Give Me no rest." That's what we are being told.
What is the opposite of devoted? You can say 'not devoted.' But it's basically neglect. It's apathy. It's indifference. If you're not devoted to prayer, if you are devoted to prayer, they look different. And we need to ask ourselves going into this year. Hey, early church apostolic charge: Be devoted to prayer. The example of the early church: Devoted to the prayers, the prayer times. As we enter into this year, are we committed to that? I mean, would you basically say that 2016, if what James said was right, if the Wednesday prayer meetings, and I'll tell you this, in the history of our church, I believe in these 16 years our prayer meetings have been well attended. But if that is beginning to fall off, somebody's devotion to it is falling off. That is just the reality.
And you know what? If your devotion to the prayers are falling off, it means you are becoming more devoted to something else. Something else is trumping that time. And you just need to ask yourself, in light of Scripture, are you making a good exchange? Is the thing that you are becoming more devoted to...because I know you have reasons. People have reasons as to why they don't come and corporately pray. But you have to ask yourself, Is that a good exchange? Is it a fair exchange? Is it in line with what we find to be a reality about the New Testament church? Because I can tell you this: Same people that devoted themselves to the prayers, their lives were just like yours. They had a bunch of children, they had work to go to the next morning, all the same things. And yet they devoted themselves to it. It's amazing when your heart is full, it's charged up with the things of the Lord, when you are excited for the Lord, when there is a freshness. Where are we at with regards to this? I mean, do we see a pattern of praying, both corporately and privately, that actually looks something like devotion to prayer. May God help us in 2017 brethren.
You know what? Scripture says don't be weary in welldoing. And you can get weary in praying. I mean, for 26 years, I have been coming to the prayer meeting. And I sought, even when I wasn't an elder, I sought (I mean, Ruby can tell you,) it was mandatory in our lives, unless we were just wrought through and through with sickness of the severest kind. The prayer meeting was mandatory. Why? Because we were laying hold on the Lord. It was necessary. Brethren, don't become weary in this. You have to remember this, brethren, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal." And if there is anyway the devil is going to try to wear us out, it's in our prayer. Because our prayers bring down His strongholds.
And you know what? You can hear it whispered in your ear, "Ah, its best to stay home, get a lot of rest, be able to rise early in the morning, the kids get full rest, all that." Brethren, don't be deceived. Satan does not like praying churches. He loves it when the prayer meetings begin to diminish. Brethren, prayer unleashes the power of God and he knows it. Don't give in to this. I mean, if some of you are not showing forth a devotedness to corporate prayer, brethren, I call you, repent of that. Turn. Don't go down that path. And it can become easy. You justify it once, you justify it a second time, a fifth time, "Well, the kids." Brethren, don't do that. Now look, maybe there are some things we have to do. I mean, maybe our elders be open if there are things we can do with regards to our prayer meeting, I know we don't always start on time. Whatever it is, but brethren I am telling you, do not forsake this. Because if you do, you're going the way that the early church did not go. Don't do this. You want to go down the path to ineffectiveness? You want to go down the path to weakness? Then don't pray. It's not good.