"OUR LIFE TOGETHER" The Place Of Prayer And Song INTRODUCTION 1. We have seen that the "collection" and the "Lord's Supper" include in their design the element of strengthening fellowship... a. The "collection" supplies the needs of the saints, but it also increases fellowship between the givers and the recipients b. The "Lord's Supper" is indeed a memorial and communion with the Lord, but our partaking of it together also involves a communion together as one body 2. There are two other "acts of worship" in which we engage when we assemble that also have as a purpose (or at least as an outcome) that of nourishing fellowship among Christians... a. One is "prayer", and the other is "song" b. Both involve expressions of praise and devotion to God, but is that all? 3. In this study... a. We shall examine how these activities can build fellowship with each other b. And seek to examine whether or not we are utilizing them as we should I. THE FELLOWSHIP IN PRAYER AND SONG A. CAN BE ILLUSTRATED BY THE EXAMPLE OF THE EARLY CHURCH... 1. They were quick to join themselves together in prayer a. In response to the threat of persecution - cf. Ac 4:18-20 , 23-24,29-33 b. In the face of actual persecution - cf. Ac 12:1-3 ,5,12 2. They had fellowship in singing as well a. While enduring imprisonment - Ac 16:25 b. Note the connection of singing with praying B. WHY SUCH FELLOWSHIP IN PRAYER AND SONG? 1. Because of the value of prayer, and especially collective praying a. Prayer is a wonderful source of strength and peace - Ph 4: 6-7 b. But there is also a special value when brethren pray together! 1) Jesus taught the value of collective prayer - Mt 18: 19-20 2) James taught the value of the prayer of a righteous man; how much more, then, the value of many righteous people praying! - cf. Ja 5:16 2. Because of the value of song, and especially collective singing a. Singing certainly is appropriate as an individual expression of praise - cf. Ja 5:13 b. But when done together, it can also serve as a form of mutual teaching and admonition - cf. Co 3:16 c. This can lead to increased blessings, as such collective singing... 1) Nurtures a heart of thankfulness to God - Co 3:16 2) Can lead to our being "filled with the Spirit" - cf. Ep 5:18-19 [The early church certainly took advantage of the full blessings to be found in prayer and song; they not only prayed and sang as individuals, but collectively as well. This could not but help strengthen the fellowship they enjoyed in Christ! What about the church today? Are we allowing prayer and song to strengthen our fellowship together in the body of Christ? Consider...] II. HOW WE CAN USE PRAYER AND SONG TO BUILD FELLOWSHIP A. FIRST, MAKE PRAYER AND SINGING MEANINGFUL IN YOUR PRIVATE DEVOTIONS... 1. You DO have private devotions, don't you? 2. Learn to lean on God in prayer - believe in the power of God to answer prayer! a. For God is One Who hears our prayers - cf. Ps 65:2 b. And those who look to God in prayer will find Him to be One Who answers, prompting us to pray even more - e.g., Ps 116: 1-2 3. Learn the joy of singing praise to God a. David did, and found it to be both pleasant and beautiful - Ps 147:1 b. I have found it helpful to listen and sing along with those singing hymns recorded on tapes -- The more experience you have in your personal devotions, the more you will get out of your public devotions with others! B. SECOND, AS WE PRAY AND SING TOGETHER, EXPEND SOME EFFORT... 1. Listen attentively to the prayers, making them your own 2. When appropriate, don't hesitate to offer a hearty "AMEN!" 3. As we sing, be sure you are making melody "with the heart" - cf. Ep 5:19 a. New Testament worship stresses the spiritual side, not the physical side b. Don't worry how you sound, but sing from the heart! c. Remember, our countenance is often a good indicator of the condition of our hearts - cf. Pr 15:13 -- Just as you get more out of attending a sports event by getting involved in the game, so one gets more out of our assemblies by getting involved in the collective activities! C. THIRD, SIT CLOSER TOGETHER... 1. What good is it to teach and admonish one another if we can't hear each other? 2. Sitting close together, people are more likely sing out 3. There is more of a sense that we are engaged in these activities together as a family when we sit together a. When you attend with your physical family, don't you like the idea that you are worshipping God "together"? b. Doesn't sitting together "as a family" help nourish that idea? c. Shouldn't we, then, as the family of God "sit together"? D. FINALLY, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES TO SING AND PRAY TOGETHER... 1. In our regular assemblies 2. In gospel meetings 3. In special singings 4. In home Bible studies, or home singings -- For the more you do it, the more you get out of it; some people never experience the joy of fellowship in prayer and song because they do it so rarely! CONCLUSION 1. In Ja 5:13 , James wrote: "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. "Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms." 2. While we can certainly do this on our own, God does not intend for this to always be the case; consider what Paul wrote in Ro 12:15 ... "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." 3. The fellowship Christ intended for His church to enjoy involves a sharing together in the songs and prayer we offer to God! To ignore or otherwise not fully appreciate this part of "Our Life Together" is to deprive ourselves of some of the greatest blessings found in the family of God, the church.