And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither (Acts 16:13).
This verse describes the inception of the church at Philippi. Of all the epistles written by Paul to the churches he founded, the Book of Philippians is the most complimentary. In the beginning of the letter he wrote, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3). In the middle the apostle shares his heart like nowhere else in Scripture. In the end they were uniquely praised for their giving spirit: Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only (Philippians 4:15). What made this church excel?
Even today church planters puzzle over why some churches just seem to have the Spirit of the Lord present in a special way, while other solid Bible-believing works struggle. The size, wealth, and talents of the Philippian church do not appear to be significant. In fact, II Corinthians 8 indicates the churches of Macedonia were known for their trial of affliction and deep poverty.
Prayer certainly played a vital role.
Consider again the text. Before the church started, there was a core of godly women meeting for regular prayer. Acts 16:16 finds the group again going to prayer. Faced with the trial of imprisonment, Acts 16:25 states: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God. Paul understood well the important role that prayer had played in the success of the work at Philippi. He reminded them, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philippians 4:6). DW