Praying With Others: A Neglected Ministry

In Matthew 6:6, Jesus told His disciples; "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

As Christians, we would all agree that each of us needs daily "alone time" with God. Personal prayer is vital to maintaining our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Yet, there is another aspect of prayer that far too many of us neglect; praying together with others. Oh, we may join our voices with others in prayer during the course of a church service, but I am referring to a more purposeful and powerful time of group prayer. We need to make time in our schedules to gather with one or more people for the sole purpose of prayer and intercession.

Some will immediately respond by saying; "We don't need to pray with others, all that matters is that we pray. What difference does it make if we all pray in the same place at the same time? Are you suggesting another meeting for us to schedule? My schedule is already overloaded! "Others might say; "I pray better alone. It is distracting for me to pray with other people."

I can understand all of these feelings. Still, I believe the Scriptures teach that praying together with others is to be a normal part of Christian living. There is a special power in group prayer. Ifs not an optional activity any more than private prayer is. But there is much room for variety in group prayer. Groups can vary in size, length of meeting, types of praying that is done, etc. Let's take a look at how important group prayer really is and some possible ways we can participate in this powerful ministry.

GROUP PRAYER IS IMPORTANT

Jesus told His disciples that "if two of you agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them." (Matt. 18:19 & 20)

The disciples apparently valued these words of Christ, for Scripture indicates that praying with others was a regular practice in the First Century Church. In fact, the Church was "born" in prayer. Just before Jesus ascended, He told His disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. How did they spend their time waiting? They spent it together in prayer. Acts 1:14 tells us that the Eleven "all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers."

Other passages indicate that the early church leaders prayed together regularly in groups of two or three or more. Acts 3:1 tells us Peter and John were on their way to the temple together for it was "the hour of prayer." In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas prayed together in jail. In the introduction to some of Paul's epistles, the apostle refers to "our prayers for you."

(See Colossians 1:1 & 2, 4:10-14) In I Thessalonians, he is at least referring to Timothy and Silas (I Thes 1:1 & 2) if not other coworkers as well.

Group prayer was not limited to just the church leaders. The rest of the saints also came together for the purpose of prayer (Acts 12:4 & 5,12). It was not an uncommon thing for the leaders and saints alike to join together in prayer as an assembly (Acts 4:23 & 24, 21:4 & 5).

The point is that prayer is not just a personal activity; it is a part of BODY ministry. It is something we do together as well as alone. If we fail to join together with others in prayer, we are not only cheating ourselves, but we are cheating the Church and God as well. There is a special power in united prayer. Jesus said so. Do you believe it? Are you willing to try it?

PARTICIPATING IN GROUP PRAYER

Besides the special supernatural power that Jesus spoke of, there are also several practical advantages in praying with others. For instance, when we agree to meet with someone else for prayer, there is a sense of accountability. We do not want to miss our appointment with that person. It is a lot easier to cancel an "appointment with God" for praying alone than it is to cancel an appointment with a flesh and blood person.

There are other advantages as well. When we pray with others, we realize that we are not the only one who has problems and needs. We hear other people's requests and help them bear their burdens. Our faith can also receive a boost as we become aware of others praying around us. Hearing them pray helps us realize that someone else actually believes in God and the power of prayer. Another practical advantage of group prayer is that it can aid our concentration and persistence. Alone, our minds might wander, we might even fall asleep, but as we agree with others in prayer, we can focus in on a particular need. By ourselves, we might stop praying sooner, but as we pray with others we are encouraged to "hang in there" and keep "knocking".

Group prayer can also present certain problems as well as advantages. Some folks get distracted by hearing others pray, especially if the other person is loud. Some people become very self-conscious and have difficulty expressing themselves in the presence of others.

Still, none of these potential problems should keep us from fulfilling the ministry of group prayer that the Lord has called us to as Christians. We simply need to humble ourselves and become more sensitive to the needs of others. We can learn to overcome distractions and we can also learn to be less of a distraction ourselves. We can learn to modify and vary the way we pray. We can learn to tolerate and even appreciate praying styles that differ from ours. All of these problems can be worked out in a spirit of love and understanding.

There is great opportunity for spiritual growth and ministry in group prayer. The Lord is calling us all to put forth extra effort to find a place in our schedules for praying with others. On the following pages you will find a list of practical suggestions to help you in your efforts to participate in the neglected ministry of praying with others. May the Lord bless you in your efforts!

 

Praying with Others.docx