Solemn Assemblies about confession, repentance
It has truly been a wonderful joy traveling across our beautiful state and meeting some of the godliest people that I have ever encountered in all of my 37 years of ministry. We are blessed as Missouri Baptists to be not simply a people who say prayers but indeed a people who are actually engaging in prayer. It matters not the physical number of persons present at Solemn Assemblies. What matters most is that the LORD is in the midst of our meetings. When the LORD is in our midst, simple petitions are transposed into powerful simple prayer. On several occasions we witnessed this happening. At times there were tears seasoned with genuine honest confession, genuine repentance and authentic Christian love and compassion. There was no doubt that we had been in the presence of God. God has smiled on our efforts and we must continue in prayer so that honest confession, genuine repentance, authentic Christian love and true compassion will continue to be the results of our family prayer meetings.
Why? Why must we continue in prayer given the fact that we have been so successful in our efforts? Why not simply fold up our tents and cancel the rest of the prayer meetings or, more correctly, our Solemn Assemblies? Why not just say, “We have prayed enough and God is satisfied.” But is the LORD truly pleased with us? Have we prayed enough as Missouri Baptists? Are we back on the straight and narrow? Are we at a level in our spiritual life as a people of God where we can declare victory and begin to celebrate our magnificent and marvelous success? I don’t think so.
I believe we must pray all the way through. We have only just begun. We can’t stop now. We must we continue in prayer. Continuation in prayer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ elevates our sensitivity to the need for honest confession, genuine repentance, authentic Christian love and true compassion which done in secret prayer will move the heart of our LORD. We must utilize all of the weapons of secret prayer in order to experience the success of our Solemn Assemblies.
E. M. Bounds’ in his book, On Prayer, quotes Philip Henry on the subject of Secret Prayer. Henry says, “Be sure you look to your secret duty; keep that up whatever you do. The soul cannot prosper in the neglect of it. Apostasy generally begins at the closet door. Be much in secret fellowship with God. It is secret trading that enriches the Christian. Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt at night. The best way to fight against sin is to fight it on our knees,” Bounds said.
It is on our knees in secret prayer before the Lord Jesus Christ where the battle is won. The Apostle Paul said it best, “We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength” (Phil. 4:13). Then the angel of the LORD says to Mary, mother of Jesus, “There is nothing impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). According to Bounds account, D. L. Moody made it his business to keep the morning watch. It was said that Moody “kept his morning watch in the coal shed, pouring out his heart to God, and finding in his precious Bible a true ‘feast of fat things’ (Isa. 25:6),” Bounds said.
Henry Blackaby in his work, A God Centered Church: Experiencing God Together, writes, “The Father constantly revealed His will to His Son in prayer.” Prayer is vital to the corporate body, the church. Prayer connects the church community to oneness (John 17). However, the prerequisite to corporate prayer is individual or personal prayer, or as Jesus presents it, as private secret prayer (Matt. 6). We must first get personal with God, before we are able to get personal with each other. If we find it difficult to get personal with our brother or sister in Christ, then possibly we are not spending personal time with God in “secret prayer.” Secret prayer is not simply secret prayer; it is prayer done in secret, but expressed in public obedience to God.
I contend that we must continue our prayer and our prayer must be done in the secret places of not only our physical prayer closets, but also the deep abiding bedrock of our souls. We must go deep in order to achieve deeper healing and repentance. Repentance that is genuine and prayer that is done in our secret closet moves the heart of God. However, repentance that is hypocritical and shallow, and prayer that is a demonstration of public performance, only hinders and limits the power of God. In his book, Salvation: Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Gerald Cowen writes on the necessity of repentance. He says, “While preaching in Galilee, Jesus addressed the question of whether or not a group of Galileans who were murdered by Pilate were greater sinners than anyone else because they suffered such a fate.” Jesus says, “I tell you, No: but, except you repent (metanoeo, change of one’s mind or literally change of one’s direction or behavior) you shall all likewise perish.” In other words, “repent or perish.”
Remember that it was only 120 thirsty passionate souls in a secret prayer meeting in prayer and repentance that unleashed the power of Pentecost. It took only two preachers singing songs and saying prayers in a Philippian jail and the prisoners were set free. It was the humble and contrite prayers of Hannah that moved the heart of God which presented to her a son, Samuel. James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” The word “availeth” literally means “to prevail against all odds and get the job done.” This kind of prayer produces results that are life changing. This is what we desire as Missouri Baptists: Life change. I believe that honest confession, genuine repentance, authentic Christian love and true compassion are the secret weapons to the success of Solemn Assemblies. God bless you and keep you in His matchless care and compassion as we all get together to see results of the rewards of secret prayer and genuine repentance. I’ll see you at the family prayer meeting. (Bob Loggins is the spiritual awakening consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention.)