Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Power of Praying Together

Whether it’s a single prayer partner or a prayer group, it is important that we pray together. Being together for Christ’s purposes creates a unique space for him to be present with us. Scripture tells us, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.” (Matthew 18:2). Christ promises to be present with us when we gather together in his name—in other words, to do his will, to walk his path, to share his love. If we gather in hate, in anger, in rage, in unforgiveness, or in hostility, we are not gathering in the name of Christ, even if we try and stamp his name on our meeting. To gather in the name of Christ is to gather in the things of Christ.

Does God hear us when we pray alone? Yes, absolutely. Scripture tells us, “But 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.” (Matthew 6:6). Private prayer is an essential part of our walk with God and growth in Christian faith.

And so is community prayer. We pray together to share in Christ’s presence, to bear one another’s burdens[1] and to grow in relationship with one another. Something special happens when we come together with a brother or sister in the faith and reveal the desires of our hearts, the wounds of our past, and the needs of our present. When we develop healthy, meaningful, and prayerful relationships with fellow Christians, our relationships grow in connection, trust, and depth.

Developing relationships with fellow pray-ers should create a safe space to cry, to laugh, to lament, to grieve, and to celebrate. It is a beautiful and holy thing to listen with focus and care. Listening and caring are essential in our relationships with one another. And while sometimes we regard them as one in the same, listening and prayer are distinctive, and being able to pray with someone, or have someone pray with you, offers something wholly different than simply listening. A prayer connection is different because it intentionally brings God into your relationship. It reminds you that God is the ultimate provider, that we are dependent on God, and that we must remain connected to the divine in all we do.

[1] Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. ~Galatians 6:2, NIV

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