A Christian Prayer Service


The image that most people get when they here the phrase "Christian prayer service" is usually linked to some denomination such as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, and so on.  The doctrines and dogmas of a given denomination make up the fabric of what is said during the prayer service.  The prayer service might occur during Sunday morning or evening church services, or it might occur during some other time set aside especially for such an occasion.  There might be an officiating minister who leads the service while all participants are seated in the pews of the church with heads bowed, eyes closed in silent prayer.  Usually, the minister leads the prayer by thanking God for His blessings on their church, asking for forgiveness of sins, and asking for His guidance in day-to-day affairs.  Such is a typical Christian prayer service of today and not without worth.

But, Christian prayer services described in the very New Testament that Christians of today use as a model for Christian life is far different from what we observe in Christian churches of today.  One of the most fundamental and most powerful aspects of Christian prayer services during the earliest Christian centuries was a direct link, a direct pipeline that Christians had between themselves and God.  This was no emotional link or "heart-felt" link or some kind of subjective, nebulous feeling in the mind that one had to imagine hard enough in order to think that they were experiencing a link with God.  This direct link was one in which real persons from the heavenly dimensions would participate as the officiating ministers by using human mediums who were available for that purpose in the Christian circles of the earliest Christian centuries.  These persons from heavenly dimensions were known by the early Christians simply as "spirits" (pneumata), an old Greek word for "wind" that early Jews used to translate the Hebrew word for "wind," ruach, whenever it meant "an invisible sentient person," that is, "a spirit," or to translate the phrase "spirit of God" in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament).  Like the wind, spirits are invisible yet perceptible by their effects on human beings; hence the Hebrew and Greek word for "wind" was also used, metaphorically, to designate invisible yet perceptible persons from spiritual dimensions.  Being Jews themselves, the earliest Christians were familiar with this usage of pneuma and used it to designate the heavenly persons who brought glad tidings from above and gave teachings during the earliest Christian prayer services.  These "spirits" were also known by the word "angel" (aggelos) and this, too, was in keeping with Hebrew and early Jewish  thinking (Psalms 104:4; Hebrews 1:7,14).