In Acts 2:42, we are told that the early church "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer."
The modern church still typically meets weekly for teaching, and there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for fellowship and breaking bread with fellow believers. But sadly, many seem to have relegated prayer to a private matter, something that should be done in the "prayer closet" only. Perhaps this is a reaction to not wanting to be pharisaical, or the ever-present fear of public speaking, or maybe it's just our tendency to cherry-pick Scripture, but corporate prayer rightly understood and approached, becomes a joy, a privilege and a priority for every member of the Church. So why should we engage in corporate prayer?
Praying together builds community
One of the beautiful things about prayer is how it thrives in authenticity. The same could be said for community. As we’re able to bring our needs to the Lord and to each other, our vulnerability builds our trust in one another and our reliance on God as a family of believers. Prayer is also something that all believers can do, regardless of ability or maturity as a believer. Even those who may not feel comfortable praying aloud can still join in silently. When Jesus modeled how to pray, he used plural pronouns. Beginning with “our Father” and continuing through “deliver us from the evil one,” Jesus demonstrates that prayer is for the whole church.
Praying together can be encouraging to others
Chances are, we've all faced a situation that seemed so dire or emotional at the time that we found it difficult to pray. Corporate prayer is an opportunity to share these burdens with others. When Esther was looking at facing death if the king wasn't happy, she asked her fellow Jews to pray for her (Esther 4:16). Acts 12 tells us that when Peter was in prison, "earnest prayer was made for him by the church." Later in that chapter, an angel sets him free from the prison. Throughout his epistles, Paul would frequently urge his supporting churches to pray for him in the many trials he found himself in. When Daniel was facing death for praying to God, he also asked others to pray for him.
Praying together is part of our history and our future as a people of God
In Genesis 4, we read that people "began to call on the name of the Lord." In Revelation 8, we see a beautiful picture of an angel offering the prayers of the saints with incense, and the smoke from the incense going up with the prayers of the saints.
Praying together allows us to celebrate what God has done in the life of our church
In Luke 1, Mary and Elizabeth praised God together for allowing them to be a part of God's redemption story for His people. Paul frequently shared with the churches that he wrote to the praises associated with their prayers for him. When Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, he told him to go home and tell others what God had done for him. There were also numerous eyewitnesses that did the same. After passing through the Red Sea, the Israelites sing to the Lord and summarize the account of what happened.
Praying together allows us to confess our sins to one another
James 5 tells us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. Galatians 6 tells us to restore those among us gently and in doing so, we bear one another's burdens. Confessing our sins to one another is perhaps one of the most difficult things we will do in the Christian life, but the Bible offers encouragement in this and a command for us to forgive our faith family.
As people who are brought together by a common love for Jesus and a belief in what He's done for us, it's only natural that we would exercise this belief through communally talking to and praising God. As a worshipping, missional community, we believe that praying together is important, which is why we seek to pray regularly throughout the week together in Missional Communities (MCs), before and during Sunday worship gatherings and pause our MC weekly rhythms to gather corporately in bi-monthly prayer gatherings. Join us for our next Prayer Gatherings on Wednesday, March 6th at 6:30 p.m. at any of our three expressions. (Children are invited to join the adults for corporate prayer but also are welcome to join the childcare offered for babies-elementary-aged kids.) For more info on how to be a prayer catalyst for our church, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the Prayer Ministry Team.
Written by Sara Rosenblad | Minister of Missional Initiatives | email@example.com