Praying Together as a Body
As God’s own people, He has commanded us to pray. In the Old Testament. In the New Testament. In sickness. In grave danger. In health. In times of abundant blessing. In peace. In other words, there’s never a time when He’s not expecting to hear from us!
The longer I walk with the Lord (nearing 42 years now), I have learned that prayer is the most difficult discipline with which to remain consistent. It is also one the enemy targets fiercely because, as you hand I have also learned, it has the potential to do the greatest damage to his agenda and kingdom!
Something else I have learned in this journey: it’s a battle to find a healthy balance in the discipleship process. As I’ve written previously, I was off balanced with the time I spent in prayer and in the Word. Praise the Lord that changed when He brought Kerin and I together in marriage! I am convinced that for prayer to be effective it has to be focused and intentional. Distractions must be removed if we are to pray effectively.
Why is this an area that so many Christians find daunting? Apart from the obvious fact we have an enemy who acts in opposition to our efforts 24/7, there are some factors we need to consider as we examine ourselves in accordance to Paul’s instruction to Timothy.
First, are we afraid of the raw honesty (with ourselves and GOD) that we need to approach His holy throne of grace? Have we been avoiding the truth by staying away from the mirror of His Word? If we are, self-deception is surely at play because our God sees ALL.
Second, do we shy away from confiding in Him because we feel small in His presence? If this is our mindset, we should instead rejoice in the knowledge of His vastness and grandeur. But, we must also remember that He delights in our company whenever we approach Him in humility.
Third, we need to exercise humility before God. Without it, we’ll lack the desire to pray and may even justify our disobedience, doubting that prayer even matters. This would place us in opposition to James 4. Not good. Not good at all. This, at its core, is a heart issue. Perhaps we’ve allowed a root of bitterness to invade our hearts because God answered our prayers with a “not yet,” or even a “no”. If that’s the case, God appeal to us to rethink these disappointments and embrace the mystery of His unfailing love.
The early church devoted themselves to prayer, and, more specifically, to THE prayers – they prayed together! Consider two examples of corporate prayer that God used to display His power. One is from the Old Testament, the other is from the New.
First, in 2 Chronicles 20, we find an account of King Jehoshaphat hearing of great army of Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites coming to attack Judah. This army was vastly superior to Judah’s army and this caused fear to rise within Jehoshaphat. His first response was to seek the face of the Lord and proclaim a fast. Judah assembled together to ask the Lord for help (20:3-4).
The people of Judah prayed, humbled themselves, praised and worshiped and early in the morning they did more of the same. Verse 21 tells us that “when he (Jehoshaphat) had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise Him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.’”
As a result of the people seeking the Lord’s face together, He caused the opposing army to turn against one another and destroy themselves! All that was left for Judah to do was carry off the spoil and give God the glory!
Then, in Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were with the church at Antioch with its prophets and teachers and “while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
These are just two examples of how God worked through the prayers of His people. Because of their humility and oneness, these believers were “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Let it be again, Lord!
- When does prayer come easy to you? When is it difficult?
- Was there a time when you were amazed at God’s answer to your prayers? Disappointed? Confused?
- Are there things that have helped you go deeper in your prayer life, such as an appointed time, accountability partner, hymnbook, journal, or use of pre-written prayers?
- Why do you think corporate pray is so important to God? How does He use the prayers of the Body to glorify Himself?
March 12, 2018
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