Summary: This sermon defines the requirements and results of corporate prayer in the local church.
Ill- On February 24, 1991, a lightning ground offensive was launched by the U.S. and allied forces in the Persian Gulf War. Its effectiveness shattered the defending Iraqi forces. Within days the world’s fourth largest army was crushed, tens of thousands of prisoners of war were taken and the conflict was ended. What explains this stunning defeat? For over a month a relentless air campaign had targeted the defending forces. Its strategic penetration had broken the defenders’ infrastructure and dissolved their power. These events speak a powerful truth about prayer for Christians today, as we seek to take our communities and world with the good news of Christ. We have weapons with "divine power to demolish strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4), as "we struggle... not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) Concerted personal and corporate prayer is our air offensive. An effective air campaign comes first. When it is waged and air dominance established, the ground campaign becomes effective and decisive. (Submitted by Jim Egli, Flanagan Mennonite Church, Flanagan, Illinois…Contributed to Sermon Central by: Brad Bailey)
We have been studying the subject of corporate prayer. Corporate prayer is our air offensive. Corporate prayer is strategically important but a subject of which we receive very little teaching. We have set aside today to broaden our thinking on this subject. The phrase corporate prayer is not used in the Bible but the concept is perfectly defined in Acts 1:14. Webster defines corporate as being “united or combined”. The lesson we learn from this verse is that there are times when God’s people come together in united prayer for a specific purpose. This is the air attack that should precede all spiritual offensive efforts. If we, as a church, are not united in prayer everything we do will be crippled. This is something God has shown me in recent years. If we are not united in prayer, no matter the project, we limit our effectiveness. This is a lesson all of us should absorb. Not matter what the project (revival, 40 days of purpose, lay renewal, fall festival, etc.) all of us who participate in our church should be of one accord in lifting the event in prayer.
I would like to discuss this subject by doing a simple two point sermon. First, I want to consider the requirements for effective corporate prayer. Then, I want to consider the results of effective corporate prayer.
I. What are the requirements for Effective Corporate Prayer. We see the requirements in the context of Acts 1.
A. The first requirement for corporate prayer is dependency. The early disciples had been stripped of all answers, all solutions, and all pride. It was within that context that they prayed together corporately. They were totally dependent on God.
We sometimes substitute other things for dependence on God.
1. Sometimes we substitute preaching for prayer. I am not saying preaching is unimportant. I am saying we sometimes put too much confidence in the ability of a man to do what only God can do.
“Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, ‘My house shall be called a house of preaching.“ (Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire…Jim Cymbala…p. 70)
“Have you ever noticed that Jesus launched the Christian church, not while someone was preaching, but while people were praying?” (Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire…Jim Cymbala…p. 71)
2. Sometimes we substitute programs for prayer. Our churches become convinced that the latest program will bring fresh fire into the church.
“Part of our problem is that we have developed a religious industry whose machinery runs smoothly without any need of the Holy Spirit. A. W. Tozer once commented that if God were to take the Holy Spirit out of this world, most of what the church is doing would go right on, and nobody would know the difference.” (Fresh Power…Jim Cymbala…P. 123)
3. Sometimes we substitute things for prayer. We convince ourselves that a new church sign, a new bus, a new building, or even a new staff member will bring God’s presence.
B. The second requirement for corporate prayer is brokenness. These early disciples were perplexed, powerless, discouraged and disillusioned. I am going to make a statement that may sound radical to some, but it is based on the truth we find in this passage. “If you are perplexed, powerless, discouraged, and disillusioned---God has you right where he wants you.” God moves when brokenness occurs.
Ill- In his retirement, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Because Jefferson trusted that students would take their studies seriously, the code of discipline was lax. Unfortunately, his trust proved misplaced when the misbehavior of students led to a riot in which professors who tried to restore order were attacked.