Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always….Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” (1 Chronicles 16:11, 34-35)
United in and by Prayer
The Scripture above called Old Testament believers to pray together. Most of them were physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so they were united by bloodlines as well as by their faith. Christ’s followers are spiritually united and related also.1 We are all indwelt by the same Holy Spirit, our Counselor and Comforter, our Revealer, Regenerator, and Renewer, our Sealer and Sanctifier. We all have the same Lord Jesus as our Advocate, Savior, and King. We all have the same God and Father, who is over all and through all and in all.2 All Christians belong to the one Body of Christ (His Church), whatever local congregation we belong to. We all believe the same essential doctrines, the faith once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.3 We all receive water baptism. The washing with water symbolizes that we belong to God (Father, Son, and Spirit) and by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, we are cleansed from sin by Christ’s blood. None of us can be right with God any other way. Christians have all these spiritual realities in common.
So why isn’t there more oneness of mind, spirit, and heart among our members and officers? And with other believers and congregations in the family of Christ? Maybe partly because we do not pray more together. Charles Spurgeon says: “Prayer cements us together. And lack of prayer is like withdrawing the force of gravity, scattering us into many separate atoms.”
Jesus prayed for our unity in John 17 and so after Christ’s ascension His believers all joined together constantly in prayer. Apostles and others were there, women and men, along with Mary, Jesus’ mother, and his brothers. After the Spirit came down at Pentecost and converted 3,000 people, the believers kept gathering together for Christ’s teaching passed on by His apostles, for fellowship (sharing the Christian life), for meals and the Lord’s Supper, and for corporate prayer. In Acts, Luke often emphasizes the importance of prayer.4 Spurgeon’s church had a prayer room in the basement where some members were always interceding. He called this the powerhouse of God’s church. He said; “If the engine room is out of action, then the whole work grinds to a halt. We cannot expect the Lord’s help if we do not ask Him.”
Let’s consider some blessings Christians experience as we join with other believers in prayer. I am not down playing private prayers or prayers in church worship services. But I want to encourage us to pray also in small groups, as families, and as couples. Many of my comments are adapted and expanded from “8 Benefits of Praying Together with your Spouse” by Mark Merrill.5
Praying Together Humbles Us
When we approach the Lord in prayer, we admit that He knows and controls all things and we do not. He is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all wise) and we need His help with everything constantly. Humbling ourselves before the Lord’s cross, throne, and face, binds us together. We are all on the same level before Jesus, the King of kings. We are all weak and only He is strong. I am reminded of Thomas Benson Pollock’s hymn:
Spirit, strength of all the weak, Giving courage to the meek,
Teaching faltering tongues to speak; Hear us, Holy Spirit.
Spirit, aiding all who yearn More of truth divine to learn,
And with deeper love to burn; Hear us, Holy Spirit.
Spirit, Fount of faith and joy, Giving peace without alloy,
Hope that nothing can destroy; Hear us, Holy Spirit.
Each stanza finishes with “Hear us, Holy Spirit.” It assumes that we are praying for and with other believers. It’s like the Lord’s prayer: “Give us today our daily bread….Forgive us our debts….Lead us not into temptation….Deliver us from evil and the evil one.”6 We need to be praying for and with others and need other Christ-followers to pray for and with us. Remember Jesus’ promise: “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”7
Praying Together Helps Us to Be Others-focused
Intercessory prayer means not only looking out for our own needs, but caring even more for the needs of others.8 Asking the Lord to step to bless others is a big expression of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Spurgeon says: Intercessory prayer opens a person’s soul and stretches our compassion. It reminds us that we are not alone and are part of Jesus’ family. Spurgeon says that this wide world and great universe was not made for us to be its petty boss or its solo inhabitant. Intercessory prayer reminds me that I am third: Loving God comes first, loving others comes next, and I am to put myself behind others in need. This reminds me of John Fawcett’s hymn:
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love:
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims, are one, our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
I love that whole hymn. It’s often used at prayer meetings. I love the line: “The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” Praying together can be like a foretaste of Heaven and I’ve been to prayer meetings like that. Have you? Spurgeon says: “To strengthen a prayer-meeting, is as good a work as to preach a sermon.” Please consider starting to pray together with your spouse, your family, and some other Christians.
To be continued. You can read Praying Psalm 44 (Part 1)
Notes (various translations): 1 Psalm 133:1; Acts 4:32; Rom 12:4-5,16; 14:19; 15:5-6; 1 Cor 1:10; 12:12; 2 Cor 13:11; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:13; Phil 1:27; 2:1-11; Col 3:14; 1 Peter 3:8. 2 Eph 4:1-6. 3 Jude 3; 1 Cor 11:23; 15:3. 4 Acts 1:14; 3:1; 6:4; 10:4,31; 12:5; 16:13,16. 5 www.markmerrill.com. 6 Matt 6:11-13. 7 Luke 14:11, 18:14. 8 Phil 2:4.