Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Prayer: Individual vs. communal

I lead a prayer group every Thursday night. Normally we are a small group of 5, though we recently added a new member. The regular folks often express their desire for more people to attend and they are convinced that more people praying there with us would change the state of affairs for the church. Now, I am whole-heartedly convinced about the power of prayer, so it's not that I don't think more prayer wouldn't help. But I do know we have many faithful folks who pray at home. So then the question becomes--does it matter if we pray in community? Does God hear us differently if we pray the same thing as a group or as separate individuals? Why should people come to communal prayer? Will it make a difference? (either for them or for the prayers being offered)? In large part, I think the benefit of praying together is sharing with the community and having people who care and who are invested. I think intercession (praying on behalf of another) is also a benefit, but both of those things seem to be more about us than about God.

So I'm looking for input/feedback/opinions--does communal prayer make a difference? if so, how?

1 comment:

RevMindy said...

quick feedback as I should be writing something else...

1. it keeps us accountable to praying in a way that doesn't happen when we are praying alone... I mean when we pray in a group we have to show up and do it for a set period of time... on our own we might not stick with it as long or might more easily put it off for another day if we get caught up doing something else

2. there is an information sharing aspect of praying in a group... I am not sure how to correctly nuance this but we learn about each other and the needs of our community by praying together (I would say this is even true - less true, but true nonetheless - even when we don't use words when we pray together)... I say this hesitantly becasue I know prayer is conversation with God, and is not the same as a discussion with a friend. However, this aspect of praying together is one I notice and appreciate.

3. Praying in groups let those who gather share their experience of prayer and their ways of praying. This can be especially helpful for those who feel stuck in a prayer rut.

This list is comprehensive but just the three thoughts off the top of my head while reading your blog.

- Mindy

PS I don't think God cares much about where we are or who we are with when we pray as long as we turn our attention to God and do it. I know we are called to be in Christian community but I feel those needs can be fufilled in a variety of ways and don't necessarily have to be fufilled through "prayer group time." Perhaps others disagree... if you do please share as I would love to hear your opinions.