Two Aspects of Prayer

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If we are going to be true followers of Jesus, both private and corporate prayer will be an indispensable part of our lives.

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. (Romans 15:30)

‘It’s the thought that counts!’ people often say, meaning it’s not the size or cost of the gift that matters, but the heart that lies behind it. And the Bible agrees wholeheartedly with that when it comes to worship and prayer. It’s the thought, the heart, what’s going on inside, that counts. But if that’s the case, is there a place for corporate prayer and worship? Or should it simply be kept just ‘between God and me’?

Never to worship or pray alone certainly robs us of the opportunity to be intimate with God, to tell our heavenly Father the things that are hidden away in the depths of our heart, that no one else knows. But equally, never to worship or pray with others robs us of the blessing and power that the Bible shows us is released when God’s people come together. (Indeed, if public worship and prayer were removed from the Bible, it would be very much thinner!) Much Old Testament worship was certainly a corporate affair, bringing home that together they were the redeemed people of God. Jesus himself said, in the context of teaching about prayer, that ‘where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them’ (Matthew 18:20). And the early church had some powerful moments when they prayed together, such as in Acts 4 where ‘after they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken’ (Acts 4:31).

Paul certainly anticipated that true believers would participate in both private and corporate prayer. In today’s verse, he urges the Christians at Rome to ‘join me in my struggle by praying to God for me’. Obviously he himself had been praying; but he recognized that to see the breakthrough he was longing for, he needed them to join in with him in prayer too.

If we are going to be a true follower of Jesus, both private and corporate prayer will be an indispensable part of our life. Which of these aspects do you need to give more attention to at this time?

Friends, please pray for us.  (1 Thessalonians 5:25, CEV)

Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont

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