The principles briefly mentioned in the previous chapters are consistent with how the Bible teaches on this topic. What we might anticipate is this. The author of the Bible is also the author of human nature. That is the simplest thing to say. God views men as social beings who have responsibilities and devotions. Prayer in public is encouraged just as strongly as prayer in private. It is not at all less necessary. Only a portion of the things that should be included in a Christian’s requests to the throne of grace are covered by prayer, which is always subjective. Such prayer is essential to the growth of one aspect of the Christian life and cannot be skipped. 

Social prayer also develops another dimension, which cannot be neglected without costing the religious life in terms of loss and one-sidedness. The soul’s instincts are in harmony with what God has said. This impulse manifests itself in some way in all false religions. Both communal and public worship are encouraged and governed by specific commands and a predetermined ritual in the Old Testament writings. The worship of the Mosaic ritual was created to satisfy a vital need and longing of the human soul as well as to uphold Israel’s awareness of the true God and protect it from idolatry. Through this devotion, national unity, patriotic fervor, and the people’s healthy and sweet social character were all stoked and nurtured. When the country was in decline, it was a defining trait of the remnant of believers to gather for social and theological conversation and fellowship. In response to the divine command and the urges of their natures, they sought the camaraderie of like minds and the consolation of religious communion after being driven from the temple by the corruptions that were present and cut off from the typical means of public worship. These religious gatherings were obviously social and devotional, though it is unclear exactly what they consisted of. They exchanged words with one another, and the nature of their exchange was such that it was deemed worthy of recording, not only in the memories of the participants but also in the eternal records in which the Lord himself perpetuates the testimonies of the faithful ones who confess him when the multitude denies him and who draw closer to him and one another when the crowd forsakes or threatens. These gatherings had all the basic components of a Methodist class meeting. The people who reflected on God and the heavenly activities, whose lives were conformed to his will, and who were brought into vital contact and oneness with him, were those who feared the Lord and thought upon his name. Imagine the Lord in your mind as you dwell adoringly and gratefully on his qualities as they are shown in his word, manifested in his providence, and revealed to the believing heart by the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to meditate on the Lord’s name. In this sense, God himself is the name of God. The foundation that bound them together was how they saw God and how they related to him. They were prepared to empathize with, console, strengthen, and encourage one another in their devotions and duties, their hardships and sorrows, since they shared the same values and understood the same commitments.

By Nathan Zipfel

Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene Pastor of the New Life Church of the Nazarene in Boswell, PA. Batchelor of Arts Pastoral Leadership, Nazarene Bible College Master of Arts, Ministry, Ohio Christian University Master of Social Work, Indiana Wesleyan University Behavioral Health Therapist

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