Some will come to meeting and hear the prayers, singing and exhortations of others, remain silent, and go home without saying a word, or taking any part whatever. I have many times wanted to ask such ones what they come to meeting for? One of two things is certain: they either had no particular object in coming to meeting, or if they had, did not carry it out. Is it possible that Sabbath-keepers go to meeting and still have no object in going? Outsiders come in, sometimes out of curiosity to see and hear what is done, or to pick flaws and make sport of Christians. Some brethren and sisters act the part of spectators. We now wish to inquire what their object is in going to meeting?
It may be that some go just to see and hear the rest. But this is an object unworthy any person that has named the name of CHRIST. By professing Christianity a person virtually says, “I am like CHRIST.” Was he a silent spectator? Did he meet with the disciples and remain silent while they spoke of the truths of religion? Certainly not. He was always ready to instruct, exhort, and admonish. Then let us who profess to be Christ-like, be like him in deed and in truth.
We frequently hear brethren and sisters tell why they go to the prayer-meeting. Those who go for no other purpose but to hear the rest ought to get up and say so; then they would appear in their true colors, and all would know what to expect of them.
Those who indulge in this practice are requested to offer one good reason for their course. They cannot claim apostolic example. “How is it then, brethren, when ye come together every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine,” etc. 1 Cor. 14:26. “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” Heb. 10:25. The Scriptures show that we should meet together to do something. Suppose every one should go to hear the rest? It would be a singular meeting indeed. If one individual has the right or privilege to do so, every one has.
But many go with the intention of taking a part but do not. But why do they remain silent? O perhaps the enemy persuades them with some frivolous excuse to keep their seats. What would you think of a soldier that would suffer himself to be persuaded by one of his enemies not to do anything? Imagine yourself at the judgment bar, and the Judge asking you why you withheld the word of your testimony? See Rev. 12:11. What would you answer?
All these excuses for not doing duty are vain. Every such person is deficient in zeal. The fear of man is a drawback to many, but a sufficient amount of zeal and love for the truth will overcome every obstacle in the way of duty. It is a shame to go to meeting week after week and have nothing to say. Suppose a man should get up his team and go to the woods for a load of wood. Well, he gets there, and it is blustering and cold, and he does not feel like chopping, so he turns round and goes back empty! Just as consistent as to go to meeting and go home without doing anything. Let us have good workers, such as will work because they love to.
What would you think of a preacher that would not preach because he did not feel like it? If the LORD does not prompt us by his Spirit to move forward, let us act from principle and be as consistent as we are in worldly things. Every fearful soul should form a resolution to bear every cross, to do every duty, and then the cross would soon become light, and duty a pleasure instead of a burden. Courage brethren, throw away your fears and excuses, and come right up to the work with the rest. Take an interest, an active part, and then you will share with them the reward of well doing.
— D. Hildreth, Review and Herald, 1/15/1861
Related: Requisites to a Good Prayer-Meeting