Summary: Before I experience the fullness of personal faith, I must be committed to corporate Christian community. (Based on Gene Getz)
Over the next nine weeks Glenys and I have planned to present five sermons on Gene Getz’ “One Another” subjects. Those five sermons are based on his writings of “Praying for, Building, Loving, Encouraging and Serving – One Another.”
• Last Week – Glenys on “Planning an Escape” – the “when”, “how” and “why” of praying.
• Continue the theme of prayer.
I found a series of “Dear God” prayers on the internet, a few of which I’d like to share with you.
7-year old Debbie prayed, “Dear God: Please send a new baby for Mommy. The new baby you sent last week cries too much.”
“Dear Lord: Thank you for the nice day today. You even fooled the TV weather man. Hank, 7”
“Dear God: Please help me in school. I need help in spelling, adding, history, geography and writing. I don’t need help in anything else. Lois, 9”
“Dear God: I need a raise in my allowance. Could you have one of your angels tell my father. Thank you. David, 7”
“Dear God; I am saying my prayers for me and my brother, Billy, because Billy is six months old and he can’t do anything but sleep and wet his diapers. Diane, 8”
Prayer is a fascinating subject and experience. It is simple yet difficult; a child can understand it and a scholar can be stumped by it. It works yet is a mystery in the logical sense.
Evidence of personal praying in Scripture – Elijah, David, and Jesus Christ
There is a place for personal praying. Throughout Acts and the Epistles however, the great emphasis is on corporate prayer. Getz suggests this to be the area we have neglected.
Reason: Culture – Rugged Individualism – “I”-“My”-Me” (not all bad – e.g. personal responsibility) What has happened however is that through the influence of western culture, the “I”-“my”-“me” approach to things has led to personal emphasis in adopting Scriptural practices of corporate prayer to become a matter of personal focus so that we are more inclined to PERSONAL study, PERSONAL growth, PERSONAL prayer and PERSONAL witness (it’s about me).
Getz says (and it certainly bears true) that the Bible emphasizes corporate responsibility – “Us”-“Our”-“We”. The Scripture emphasizes corporate study, corporate growth, corporate witness and (today’s theme) CORPORATE PRAYER so that (to quote Getz) “we can influence any culture permeated with “I”-“my”-“me”.
“The dimensions of personal Christianity cannot develop as they should until they are in proper context of corporate Christianity.” (Getz) In other words, before I experience the fullness of personal faith, I must be committed to corporate Christian community.
Because of these realities we’ll focus on the subject of praying for one another which I’ve called “Corporate Prayer-Care” – a message of looking out for each other through the activity of prayer.
Since CORPORATE CARE (through corporate prayer) is the primary focus of the Bible, we need to assess how we will respond to that truth. Now, aside from the fact that instruction by God alone should be enough to gain our obedience to give ourselves to corporate prayer, there are a few other reasons to consider why we ought to heed this instruction.
• Benefits of corporate prayer:
1. Corporate Prayer-Care Strengthens the Recipient
Ephesians 3:16 – “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.”
Praying for other people is a means of asking God to give people what they need to get through where they are and what they are facing. How this works is a mystery not easily understood and certainly not easily explained. We invite God to do things for people and within people that only God is capable of doing because we cannot even understand it fully.
A story will help us understand the lesson. It is told by a man called JIMBO – as found on a website link – http://www.heinvites.org
• Jimbo thanked the West for praying for Christians in Baghdad, Iraq while they were there delivering supplies to Assyrian Christians. They were setting up a network to distribute relief once the situation calmed. Jimbo said, “We were the only foreigners in the city of Baghdad without a Government agent. All foreigners in Baghdad are required to have a government agent with them at all times. We had none and had complete freedom to travel and stayed with family members as I am Assyrian”.
“Our hearts were broken with the suffering of the people but also touched by the strength of the Church (bold text mine). We didn’t want to leave but met with the head of our tribe who asked us to go and let people know the situation of the Assyrian Christian…All because you prayed!!”
How could Jimbo and his team face such odds, putting themselves in front of people who might assassinate them in a moment if military forces interpreted their presence as a threat? How does one find that kind of courage when you know you might not come out alive? It is that mystery of prayer which strengthens the recipient who may not even realise that the source of their strength is the prayers of the saints.