Men And Corporate Prayer
How important is corporate prayer to you? Most Christian men would agree that prayer is an essential element of spirituality, at least on a personal level. But how many actually value the practice of corporate prayer? How many of us consider petitioning to God as a community, with one voice, a priority?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, many haven’t been able to gather for prayer meetings, but if we’re honest, many didn’t attend those meetings before the breakout of Covid-19, and now that church doors are closed, with all gatherings transferred online, many men still don’t show up. Over the years, a number of researches have determined that women easily outnumber men in weekly Christian gatherings, which contrasts greatly with the situation of some other faith traditions, like muslim communities where men usually make up the majority of worship service attendees.
When we read the book of Acts, one may suggest that the Christian men of the early Church valued prayer gatherings more than modern Christian men. After all, in many respects, we often think of the early Church believers as an example to follow:
“13 When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). 14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.” (Acts 1:13-14, NLT)
As we are told that Jesus’ disciples were constantly united in prayer, it is also said that Mary and several other women were there, as if to point out that these meetings were mainly men’s gatherings to which women were also invited to participate. Is it safe to assume that men made up the majority of the early Church prayer gatherings? We may never know for sure, but one might ask the following question: “where are the praying Christian men now?”
Gender ratio in Canada
According to Knoema website, in 2020, the ratio of men to women in Canada was 98.54 to 100. This means that for every 100 women, there were 98.54 men living in the country. So there were slightly more women than men in Canada last year, and this situation actually goes back many decades, as the last time there were more men than women in Canada was in 1975, according to the same statistics. And while the Canadian gender ratio is about 50% with slightly more women than men, the situation in the Church is quite different. Still according to a number of North-American researches, the male/female ratio in the Church is believed to be about 40/60. There are men in the Church, but far fewer than women, apparently. And the gap is even more pronounced when it comes to involvement in Church activities such as prayer gatherings, to the point where many are asking "where are the guys?!" It looks like a great number of modern Christian men are MIA when it comes to corporate prayer. We can practically say that there is an absenteeism problem among men in the modern Church. In many churches, the only activity where there are systematically as many men as women is in the marriage preparation courses. Since the brides to be can't go through the marriage process without their lover, men do show up to these courses, thanks to God!
We should all rejoice that there are women involved in the life of the church, but something definitely needs to happen on the men’s side. Some argue that women are more attracted to prayer gatherings because they are more “emotionally sensitive” than men. But one doesn’t need to be emotional to pray. Prayer is not an emotional discipline, it is a spiritual one. And prayer gatherings are a unique opportunity for men to exercise their spiritual authority, gifts and leadership in a powerful partnership with the Holy Spirit. Exercising faith in corporate prayer is not a woman thing, it’s a human thing!
Jesus’ disciples did not shy away from prayer gatherings as they knew from experience that without the discipline of corporate prayer, they would have no chance of succeeding at their God-given mission. Men are definitely stronger together, so why don’t they gather more often? Why do so many men seem to not value the coming together of their faith communities? There may be as many answers to these questions as there are local churches.
Let’s all join in!
Let us not underestimate the importance of praying together as a faith community. It is not about the number of people gathering together, but it’s about being united through faith in Christ. So whether we are 25, 50, 100 or 1,000, as long as we are in one accord and taking our places as men in the Church, we will experience a blessing. Of course, the current context of confinement makes it difficult to come together, but no excuses should convince us to isolate ourselves from our faith community. Men need the Church and the Church needs the men.
If you have little or no involvement in the life of your local church, specifically in the [in house or online] prayer gatherings, I want to encourage you to take your place in Jesus’ community, because you have an important role to play. You can see corporate prayer as an opportunity to invest in the spiritual health of your family and your community. Let’s be thankful for the women who greatly contribute to the life of the Church — praying for us and for our children —, and let’s join in so that they won’t have to pray in unity, without us.
Note: This article was first published on Promise Keepers Canada/ Impactus website.