In our churches, in our homes, and in our communities.
Jesus modeled private prayer.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Jesus taught private prayer.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)
However, we must not overlook the fact that He also modeled and taught corporate prayer.
9Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Notice Jesus’ expectation of corporate prayer. He begins His instruction with, “Pray then like this….” In other words, “Pray as I am instructing you.” Then carefully observe His instruction, specifically His use of corporate language — our, us, and we. We are to pray using this language – together language.
Not only do we see corporate prayer being modeled and taught by Jesus, Himself, we find it being practiced by those of the early church. Let’s take a quick look at the book of Acts.
- All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14)
- And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Acts 2:46)
- Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. (Acts 3:1)
Members of the early church prayed together. In other passages from the book of Acts, we learn that these early saints also prayed together when they were persecuted (4:23-31), when they sent out gospel workers (13:1-3), and when church leaders were appointed (14:23).
Note that their corporate prayers were not bound by location. Their “together” prayers were not something only for church prayer meeting time. The saints of Acts prayed together in their homes (2:42-47), beside rivers (16:13), on beaches (21:5-6), and aboard ships (27:35-38).
For the saints in Acts, praying together was the most normal thing in the world. They prayed because they had a promise and a mission — from Christ.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
The promise: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
The mission: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and the to end of the earth.”
A promise and a mission far beyond human capacity.
Prayer was their means — the vehicle through which they petitioned God to fulfill His promise and to equip them for His work.
Believer in Christ, we have received that same promise. We have been charged with that same mission.
Grandparent, parent, we have a God-directed mission –
to pray for our children.
Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street. (Lamentations 2:19)
to help them stand fast in the faith.
For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 3:8)
Like the Christians of the early church, our mission today is demanding and urgent. Like the Christians of the early church, we have much to pray about TOGETHER.
Praying together is important. No matter your age, your gender, your knowledge of the Bible, or your comfort level with praying in public, you have an important place in corporate prayer. Prayer is a work for everyone who belongs to Christ.
Finally, take one last look at Acts 1:14.
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
In this verse we see the foundation of their faithful practice of prayer. Scripture tells us that Christ’s followers DEVOTED themselves to praying together. On a casual read-through, it may appear that many of the prayer meetings of the early church happened spontaneously. However, the early Christian’s tendency to bow together in prayer was fueled by their INTENTIONAL devotion to the practice. They prayed together at every opportunity because they were already convinced that it crucial, and they had made it a priority.