Praying with fellow believers has served to preserve my faith on countless occasions. However, when I pray with others for others, my perspective does a double-transformation: it is shifted first towards Christ and then outwards towards God’s world. I am remind to look beyond my own needs – past my own circumstances. Through this discipline, my capacity to love God’s people is increased. God has used it in my life to fight the sins of self-pity, pride and faithlessness.
When I pray with others for others, my perspective does a double-transformation: it is shifted first towards Christ and then outwards towards God’s world
In this world, God has given us his prayer agenda as we wait upon him to finish his redemptive plan. It includes many people—far more than just us and those whom we know and love personally. It includes the leaders of our world, country and church (1 Timothy 2:2), the sick (James 5:14), the suffering, the unsaved (Luke 10:2).
Praying for and with others adds to our spiritual lives in at least three other ways too:
1. It increases our sense of unity.
I recall our church praying for Christians in Sri Lanka during the terrible Easter bombings. As I bowed my head in prayer, it did not matter that I had not met any of the victims personally; nor did it matter that I was largely ignorant of the circumstances in Sri Lanka. When we pray for others, it reminds us that we are part of a global movement; that we belong to a large, universal family of God. It may be tempting to confine our prayers to those whom we care for, citing the fact that we know their personal circumstances and can therefore pray tailored prayers. I find that we can pray for very similar things for Christians whom we have not met! For instance, we can pray for:
- a faith that endures hardship;
- a life that is increasing in Christlikeness;
- a heart that is soft towards God’s word; and
- churches around the world to faithfully preach the Gospel.
Through corporate intercessory prayer, we enlarge our vision of God’s church. Praying with others in church for other Christians helps to unite us. It confirms who we are as the people of God as we ask for his kingdom to come,and for his will to be done.
2. It deepens our relationships.
When we pray with others, we get a window into their hearts. We hear about issues that gnaw at them, and circumstances that might test their faith in Jesus. Praying with others helps us to break through the veneer of superficiality that might keep us distant. Through corporate prayer, we are reminding ourselves and each other that we are approaching a high priest who listens to and intercedes for us. We confidently take our concerns to him together.
When we pray with others, we get a window into their hearts. Praying with others helps us to break through the veneer of superficiality that might keep us distant.
Because prayers of this kind require a certain degree of vulnerability, we might first choose to pray with people close to us. If we do have friends and family with whom we can share this with, praise the Lord! If we do not, may we seek to develop such relationships. They will prove invaluable in helping us to live out the content of our prayers.
3. It refines our desires.
As we articulate our prayer needs, we are faced with the desires of our heart. After all, the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). Do our thanksgiving prayers reflect a self-centeredness or a Christ-centeredness? Do our prayer requests reflect kingdom priorities? Maybe in Sunday school we used to pray for (nothing greater than) a good day at school or for the rain to stop ruining our soccer games. But are we still praying such limited prayers years later?
When we journey with other Christians, rub shoulders and huddle together in prayer, we will see growth in ourselves and each other. We will learn to pray for needs deeper than our material ones. We will prayers that sound like they come from the early church; prayers that beg God to teach us how to forgive our enemies; prayers for joy amidst tribulations; prayers for a faith that remains steadfast until Jesus comes again.
Dear friends, my prayer for you today is that you will experience God’s grace in the form of corporate prayer. Share the load with a friend or two, and may these prayers serve to build up not only the church but yourselves too.