Beginning this fall, our church will have a regular time of corporate prayer each Sunday. This emphasis on praying together will be a part of a larger vision to do all that the Bible requires us to do without adding time to our Sunday schedule. In a few weeks, we’ll be
rolling out this vision so you’ll be able to see how all the parts work together. For now, consider the following reasons that we believe our church should be praying together.
1. The Trinity. God is not merely “one.” He’s also a community of three persons. Each person of the Trinity communes with each of the other persons of the Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all pray to one another (Matt 3:16-17). What does that have to do with corporate prayer in the church? God created His church to reflect His image. When it comes to prayer, the church reflects His image in two ways. First, we should pray to God as individual persons, just as each person of the Trinity prays individually to the other persons of the Trinity (Matt 6:5-6; Jn 17:1-26). But, second, Christians must pray as a community (Matt 6:9-13), just as God prays as a community (Jn 17:1-26). God saved us to pray individually, but He also saved us to pray corporately. If our church lacks the corporate dimension of prayer, then we lack the image of God.
2. Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to give us access to God through Him (Heb 4:14-16). We gain access to God through union with Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1-2). But we’re not united to Jesus Christ as mere individuals. We’re joined to Christ, tucked into Jesus, along with all other believers in Jesus. We’re not “in Christ” a lonely way. Rather, we’re “in Christ” with everyone else who is “in Christ.” The local church is the main biblical expression of being collectively “in Christ” with other Christians. Therefore, we shouldn’t only pray privately, but we should also pray corporately with our local church in Jesus Christ (Acts 1:14).
3. The Bible. The Bible teaches that churches should pray together. Corporate prayer was a part of the life of the Old Testament church (Gen 4:26; Isa 56:6-7). The New Testament church also prayed together (Matt 6:9-13; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 4:24; 12:5, 12), and corporate prayer was the first thing Paul instructed Timothy to do in the church of Ephesus (1 Tim 2:1-2). The fact that we see New Testament examples and instructions about corporate prayer means that we should be praying together as a church.
4. Fellowship. One of the ways our church will grow in love, oneness, and fellowship with one another is by praying together. The Bible tells us in the early church, “all these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). Paul prays for the church of Rome, “that together you may with one voice glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6). They were in “one accord,” glorifying God “with one voice.” There is great comfort and encouragement that comes from bearing one another’s burdens in prayer and from being unified in our prayers for the glory of God in Christ.
5. Ministry. The activities of ministry have no power to change people’s hearts, unless the Holy Spirit adds His effectual blessing. Paul said, “I appeal to you brothers . . . to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Rom 15:30). Preaching, praying, singing, the ordinances, reading the Scriptures, evangelism, missions, discipleship, and counseling have no power to affect our hearts unless God blesses them. That’s why we need to be pleading with God to embolden and grow His people, to open the hearts of sinners, and to advance His kingdom.
6. Means of Grace. God prescribes certain activities as “means of grace” to the church. They’re called “means of grace” because they’re the means by which our eyes of faith are set most directly upon Jesus Christ, who is the fountain of all grace to His people. Corporate prayer is one of the means of grace God prescribes for the local church (Acts 2:42). If we neglect any of the means God gives us, our lives together in Christ will be greatly impoverished. On the other hand, God ordinarily advances and grows His kingdom through these appointed means. The “means of grace” include the Word, prayer, the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s supper), and fellowship.
7. Reformation and Awakening. Church history shows that every awakening, every fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit was preceded by the faithful prayers of the church. Many people know that God ignited the fire of the First Great Awakening when Jonathan Edwards preached two sermons on justification by faith alone, and his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Few people know that before Edwards preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, the members of his church were urgently pleading with God in prayer and that they had “spent the whole of the preceding night in prayer” (Samuel Prime, The Power of Prayer).
We’re praying that you’ll attend the corporate prayer meeting on Sundays this fall!