The prayer meetings of the slaves was a time of social gathering but also a time of putting 'everybody's heart being tune.' Prayer meetings could be loud, and joyous times or, if there was fear of the master, gatherings in which prayers were barely heard and only said above a whisper to avoid detection.
Some slaves were determined to pray together. They would stay up all night and travel far into the woods in order to gather for praying sessions. They called the rendezvous points "hush harbors." Here they would recount the stories from the Old Testament and relate how God had spared His chosen people from slavery. Preachers were not needed at these gatherings since everyone had something to say. Later, Black elder/pastors began to lead the slave congregations. They became the leaders of the slave communities.
The prayer meetings were important because the slaves could forget the sufferings of the past week. Because of this, the slave communities became very spiritual. They did not put all their trust in this present life. They would say, “Thank God, I shall not live here always!” At the end of each service everyone would shake hands, wishing one another well until their next meeting, and then softly sing a spiritual as they returned to their cabins.
One former slave, Tom Robinson, remembers the prayers and the spiritual life of his mother:
I can just barely remember her. But I do remember how she used to take us children and kneel down in front of the fireplace and pray. She'd pray that the time would come when everybody could worship the Lord under their own vine and fig tree - all of them free. It’s come to me lots of times since. There she was a 'praying. All over the country the same prayer was being prayed. Guess the Lord done heard the prayer and answered it.