Summary: If you understand what scripture and church history says about the primacy of praying together, you will never again view prayer time the same. We must prayerfully step forward in our participation and confidence in prayer, not just as an individual, bu
When the Church Prays
Main Passage: Acts 6:1-5
If you understand what scripture and church history says about the primacy of praying together, you will never again view prayer time the same.
We must prayerfully step forward in our participation and confidence in prayer, not just as an individual, but with other believers, praying together with the purpose of seeing God's kingdom strengthened, His word shared, and His glory manifested.
I bring the issue of praying together up for three reasons:
1) Prayer, and praying with one another, is just as important as preaching and teaching, and must be a priority in a healthy church.
2) Praying together is a vital key to enabling God's presence and work among His people in vital ways.
3) The tendency among all believers, is to think of prayer, even prayer gatherings as the extra-curricular activity, a secondary activity in the life of the church.
It is easy to believe that prayer is good to have, but not important enough to join; something you briefly tack on to a meeting before you get down to the real business. Unfortunately a growing number of believers view prayer meetings as optional, secondary to the “real” work of the church, doing tangible ministry activities.
A man arrives in heaven, and Peter is showing him around. After a while, they pass by a large warehouse, and the man inquires what is inside. "Oh, you don’t want to see that," protests Peter. The man’s curiosity is piqued, and he demands to see inside. Peter opens the door, and they see a warehouse full of wonderful things, stacked to the rafters. "Why didn’t you want me to see this?" the man demands. "It all looks wonderful!" "Well," Peter says, "I thought it might make you sad. You see, those are all the things God had ready to give you, if you had only asked for them in prayer."
This morning my intention is to convince you that God has sovereignly ordained prayer, even the corporate prayer of a church, such that His mighty workings increase exponentially and His purposes are accelerated when we pray together. Understand that prayer does not require us to be physically together in order to pray corporately, and I do not intend to minimize personal prayer. Instead, it is to show you that praying together, even if we are not physically present with one another will result in the working of God to the degree that spiritual transformation will take place in our lives, our church, our cities, and our nation.
Corporate prayer is an important part of the life of the church, along with worship, sound doctrine, communion, and fellowship. The early church met regularly to learn the doctrine of the apostles, break bread, and pray together (Acts 2:42). When we pray together with other believers, the effects can be very positive. Corporate prayer edifies and unifies us as we share our common faith. The same Holy Spirit who dwells within each believer causes our hearts to rejoice as we hear praises to our Lord and Savior, knitting us together in a unique bond of fellowship found nowhere else in life.
To those who may be alone and struggling with life’s burdens, hearing others lift them up to the throne of grace can be a great encouragement. It also builds in us love and concern for others as we intercede for them. At the same time, corporate prayer will only be a reflection of the hearts of the individuals who participate. We are to come to God in humility (James 4:10), truth (Psalm 145:18), obedience (1 John 3:21-22), with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6) and confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Sadly, corporate prayer can also become a platform for those whose words are directed not to God, but to their hearers. Jesus warned against such behavior in Matthew 6:5-8 where he exhorts us not to be showy, long-winded, or hypocritical in our prayers, but to pray secretly in our own rooms in order to avoid the temptation of using prayer hypocritically.
There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that corporate prayers, or praying together, are “more powerful” than individual prayers in the sense of moving the hand of God. Far too many Christians equate prayer with “getting things from God,” and group prayer becomes mainly an occasion to recite a list of our wants. Biblical prayers, however, are multi-faceted, encompassing the whole of the desire to enter into conscious and intimate communion with our holy, perfect, and righteous God. That such a God would bend an ear to His creatures causes praise and adoration to pour forth in abundance (Psalm 27:4; 63:1-8), produces heartfelt repentance and confession (Psalm 51; Luke 18:9-14), generates an outpouring of gratitude and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 1:12), and creates sincere intercessory pleas on behalf of others (2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2:16).