The title may be slightly misleading in that we are used to the idea of a concert being that which we go to to watch a musical performance of either a group of musicians for example an orchestra or an individual musician such as a solo singer with their own guitar. In its original usage a musical concert would have applied only to the group dynamic. The event with a solo musicians would have been known as recital. The root of the word is from the Italian concerto meaning "to organise, arrange by mutual agreement" a bringing together of con "with' and cert "certain". The concert we go to watch is taking place on stage. An orchestra would be a prime example where the arrangement and hence the piece as a whole come together by the mutual agreement and arrangement of the individual musicians. Should half the violins choose to play a completely different piece while the brass did their own thing the result would be a discordant noise instead of a concert. You would no doubt end upon demanding your money back.
In essence a concert is a coming together in agreement. The term "a concerted effort" might help in our understanding. No stage and no musicians here just people coming together in mutual effort to reach an agreed goal.
A Concert of Prayer therefore is folk coming together in mutual agreement seeking God in prayer. In the introduction to his book with the very title "Concerts of Prayer"* David Bryant writes "As Christians we experience prayer on many meaningful levels: through personal devotions, in small Bible study groups, at Sunday Schools, before meals, during worship, but the level of concerted prayer envisioned here differs form the rest (though every level of prayer is enhanced by it) . That is why we give it the name "concerts of prayer". Noting that Concerts of Prayer bring together Christians across various boundaries such as denominational and generational he goes on to say "Concerts of Prayer, like musical concerts, involve the dynamics of harmonious celebration - like a grand symphony - as pray-ers blend their hearts, minds and voices by faith in God's Word." There is an added dynamic in the power of agreement as Jesus tell us " ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. ‘Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’ " (Matthew 18:18-20). There is a power dynamic in coming together in agreement and there is a power dynamic in that Jesus is present in the gathering.
The model we use for our Concerts of Prayer is based loosely on "Dynamic Prayer in the Local Church" as described in "A Church on its Knees"**. As we gather we acknowledge the presence of God, we sing songs of worship and use different styles of prayer including silence, small group payer, led prayer, and altogether prayer. We also join together in echoing the Friday Blessings from the Local Houses of Prayer network (more of that in another blog at another time). The Concerts of Prayer are dynamic because they involve different styles - there is something for everyone whether you are comfortable in a prayer meeting or view them with suspicion. They are also dynamic because they engage with the concerns of the day. The key issues we pray for are local Church & Community those two by themselves may involve a wide range of concerns. We have also been praying for Ukraine and its people since the start of the current conflict.
Our Concerts of Prayer are once every 6 weeks on a Saturday morning and last but an hour. My heartfelt desires is that everyone in our Church will be able to regularly engage with our Concerts of Prayer. My vision is bigger than that though. We currently have a contingent that join us from different churches across Arbroath and we greatly appreciate their fellowship. Wouldn't it be great though if folk from across Montrose - churched and non churched - could come together to seek God in agreement for the good of the community? What difference might that make in our town and the surrounding villages?
*David Bryant, "Concerts of Prayer" Regal Books, 1984 rev. ed. 1988.
** Jeremy Jennings, "A Church on its Knees", HTB Books, 2010