Summary: Jesus teaches us the key to releasing his power in the world and that is through corporate prayer. It is also the key to growth in the church - are we desperate enough to pray together for God’s power to come down?
Korea is home to many of the largest Christian churches in the world. They have one of the largest Baptist churches, largest Methodist churches, largest Presbyterian churches, largest Pentecostal churches. In fact the largest congregation in the world, the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul has over 1 million members. Sunday morning is like rush hour in that city! This from a country that was for the most part unchurched only a century ago. Part of the reason for such dramatic growth is prayer. Koreans put a very high priority on prayer.
Early morning prayer is a normal part of Korean life just like we think of hearing sermons or taking an offering. No church in South Korea is without early morning prayer meetings. It doesn’t matter if they are large or small, city or rural – they all organize prayer meetings before the sunrise 365 days a year.
One American pastor tells of his visit to a large Methodist Church toward the end of a 40 day emphasis on prayer. The pastor of this church had urged everyone to come and pray every morning at 5 am. So this American wanted to see this for himself. The morning of his visit, Korea had seen a terrible storm pass through and even as the cab picked him up, the rain and wind was furious. He was thinking there would be a small group at 5 am. But he was shocked to see the sanctuary packed with 4,000 people! And this is not unusual for other churches.
Many of these churches organize meetings at 4 am, 5 am, and 6 am. And the head pastor attends all of them. One pastor was asked why he felt he had to attend all these prayer meetings? “He looked at the American with a puzzled expression as if to say, ‘Why ask such a stupid question?’ Then, realizing that he was just another one of those American Christians, he said, ‘Because that’s where the power is!’ He had a full day of ministry ahead and did not want to tackle it without God’s power.
Now we believe in prayer here too. But not many of us could even imagine such things as what I just described in South Korea. Maybe you might think they’ve gone a bit overboard, that it’s a little bit crazy. Maybe you think that that is just a different culture. Americans are not Koreans. Whatever the case, this is really happening in our time. And Korea has not always been like this.
How important is prayer? How important is corporate prayer? And by corporate prayer I mean prayer in a group setting. Jesus in our text this morning said this: Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."
Take note of the qualifications for corporate prayer that Jesus gives us here:
First is that we are in agreement.
We must be on the same page – praying for the same thing and agreeing that this is what we need to pray for. In other words, unity is crucial in prayer. If we’re not unified, then prayer fails.
The second qualification of group prayer is that we pray in Jesus’ name. (“gathered in my name”)
A crucial aspect of prayer is that we are here to glorify the name of Jesus and that we are totally dependent upon Jesus alone for our salvation. We are not gathered in the name of Luther or of the AFLC or of some other god like Budda or Mohammed. We’re not gathered in the name of some saint or some man or women whether it be Mary, Peter, James or John. We’re gathered in the name of Jesus to seek his will and his glory. If we’re not praying with that in mind, our prayer is useless.
Finally, the third qualification for corporate prayer is that it be a group of people.
Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered.” There is no such thing as a prayer meeting of one. But Jesus insists on at least two believers gathering in his name, gathering in unity. And when you have two or more, he says “There I am in the midst of them.”
Now this doesn’t mean that your morning prayer when you are alone is worthless, that it doesn’t accomplish anything. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t present during your time with him. Just look at the many times when Jesus prayed alone. He got alone to pray constantly and so should every one of us.
But according to the teaching of Jesus here, there is a greater power in the prayer of a group. When we pray together in agreement, God pours out an extra blessing of his presence, of his glory. The power of God is released in greater ways.