continuing a conversation that god has started
“Our Father, who art in heaven...”
How often have we heard these words? Prayed these words? Most Christians in the church would admit that while they may struggle to pray, they know it is an essential part of their faith. Tim Keller says that prayer is, “continuing a conversation that God has started through His Word and His grace.” Prayer is relationship, a two-way street. God speaks and we respond by lifting our hearts and desires to Him.
Jesus often woke early and stole away to quiet places to meet with His Father [cf. Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23; Luke 5:16]. There is something powerful about meeting with God in solitary places to spend time knowing Him through prayer. While there are occasions to pray privately, individually, in secret even [Matthew 6:6] we must remember that prayer is never actually done alone. As mentioned, prayer is relationship. Prayer is the meeting of the triune God with man. Even if one is praying alone in his closet, he is meeting with God, three-in-one:
We pray to God our Father. He listens and hears our prayers [Isaiah 65:24].
Jesus, the Son intercedes on our behalf [Romans 8:34]. He is our intercessor and mediator—the way to God opened up through His sacrificial death on the cross.
Finally, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God [Romans 8:27]. Prayer is never done alone. All three persons of the Godhead are at work as we pray.
So, why is corporate prayer in the church valuable and important?
Here are just a few reasons…
Corporate prayer fosters unity among the local church. Author Megan Hill says,
“In praying together, we nurture our relationship with other Christians, uniting our hearts even as we unite our voices” (Praying Together).
As we join together in prayer, unity takes shape. Relationships blossom and grow as hearts are united around the throne of God. The Church is bound to one another through their unity in Christ and prayer is an expression of this relationship.
In Mark 11:17, we see Jesus quoting the words of Isaiah, saying,
“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?”
Jesus was dismayed as he looked upon the Temple. The Church today is God’s house [1 Peter 2:5] and she is called to be a people of prayer [Col. 4:2].
Together we are to pursue our relationship with God through prayer.
Finally, as the Church prays together we fulfil the biblical call to pray corporately. Megan Hill says,
“When [the disciples] asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He responded by giving them corporate language to use: ‘Our Father...Give us this day our daily bread...forgive us our debts...as we also have forgiven our debtors...Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” [Matthew 6:9-13].
All throughout the epistles of the New Testament we see the writers addressing the Church as a whole, calling her to pray together. In the book of Acts, the story of the birth of the Church, we clearly see corporate prayer as a priority for the first Christians. At all times, and in various ways, we see the Church praying together—as they broke bread, as they met together for worship, as they sent out workers, as they were sick, when they were imprisoned, in the temple, in one another’s homes, at daybreak, at midnight. The early church was a praying church. We should be no different.
At Refuge, we believe in the power and necessity of prayer
We are excited and expectant as we launch corporate times of prayer together on the first Friday of each month.
Come join us as we seek to live in relationship with our Triune God and one another!