|Series Theme: Prayer|
Title: 4. Corporate Prayer
Praying alone is an essential part of the Christian life. Jesus did it and he clearly expects us to do it as well. But the act of praying with others is equally essential and many Christians have a dimension missing from their lives, that of praying with others.
1. What it is
Perhaps it seems almost too obvious to state but corporate prayer is any prayer involving two or more people together. Many people find it difficult to maintain a consistent prayer life alone and praying with others has been acknowledged by many to be a real help.
The advantages of praying with others are:
2. Husbands, Wives & Families
2.1 A General Decision Needed
area where many Christian families miss out is this area of corporate
prayer. This doesn't have to be confused with a “devotional time”
where Scripture may also be read early in the morning, but can be
seen as any time in the day when a need arises for help for the family
from the Lord. Because of different family schedules it is never possible
to lay down hard and fast rules about this, but the one principle
that can be laid down in the family is that we will pray together
some time .
Making a start : The most important thing that Christian husbands and wives can do is pray together. When you have not done this, or fallen out of the practice, it is always difficult to start again. Someone has got to suggest it, and in such a way as to encourage the other.
What to pray about: Anything! Remember the Lord knows everything about your lives and absolutely nothing is hidden from him. Committing the known events of the day to the Lord releases a peace on the couple. Asking for God's blessing and protection places a reliance on Him. Giving Him all the worries about the children, a job, finances, physical relationship etc. allows Him to bring peace and perhaps revelation about those things. The partners should never use prayer as an opportunity to snipe at each other's viewpoints, or as a means of trying to change the other!
Parents and Children
For many of us who are Christian parents, we were not brought up in a Christian home and this will, therefore, be a completely new experience for us, but one that will be very worthwhile if we persevere with it. We will need to pray for grace and wisdom to actually bring it about in a meaningful way.
Meeting their needs: For children we also need to remember:
3. Congregational Prayer
3.1 Size of Congregation
Praying in a congregational setting is a completely different form of corporate prayer which has its own characteristics. While the congregation is still small it may be possible to encourage everyone to pray one after another, and this can be very good. Some of the dynamics of small group prayer noted below, need to come into play here. For a large congregation such prayer, one after another, becomes impractical because
a) people often can't hear each other and
b) it takes too much time for everyone to pray.
3.2 Large Congregational praying
To make prayer meaningful in the larger congregation, the following are some suggestions that can be used:
Specific Leaders: perhaps there can be times when those full of faith (a weak and watery prayer leader will do nothing to stimulate faith and vision in the people!) can lead the congregation in prayer for specific subjects. Such times need to be short and sharp to be meaningful for as many people as possible, who should be encouraged to stand and agree what is being prayed.
All-praying: encouraging the whole congregation to pray out loud at the same time is especially beneficial in that it
4. Small Group Prayer
4.1 A different approach:
When a small group come together, whether it simply be a pair, a home group or a small congregation, or a larger congregation in small groups, there is a new dynamic that can enter in: being led in the flow of the Spirit. This is not to say that individuals praying or the large congregation praying should not seek to be led by the Spirit, but that when a group prays, one after the other, there is a potential for there to come a greater awareness of being led in a flow of prayer.
4.2 Need for a Leader & Direction
When a group prays in this way, someone needs to take responsibility for obtaining and maintaining the direction of the flow. It is of course possible to say, “Let's wait on the Lord to see the direction we should pray”, but much time and possible confusion can be avoided if the leader seeks the Lord beforehand and senses the general subjects or direction that the meeting is to take.
The aim of setting a direction is to have everyone “facing in the same spiritual direction” so that bright ideas, red herrings or shear irrelevancies are avoided. Very often a people will need to be trained to be disciplined not to go off at tangents, but to focus on the subject matter being prayed over. (More will be said on this in the Part on “Intercessory Prayer”). The leader needs to be open to the Lord or redirection as the meeting proceeds.
4.3 Praying in the flow
The group need encouraging to seek to flow on one from the other. When they do this they will find the Holy Spirit giving them insight or understanding of the subject they are praying about and as that happens their faith level will rise as they begin to realise they are praying out the will of God, as revelation comes, pictures, words and impressions are given by the Spirit, and inspiration ignites the gathering.
In Mt 18:19 when Jesus says, “If two of you on earth agree about anything”, he is meaning, “If two of you are led by the Spirit into agreement so that you are praying out the Father's will, it will be done for you”. This is what we should be seeking for in this sort of praying
5. Prayer Walking
Praying for an area by walking around it and praying in pairs, threes or fours is another form of corporate prayer.
5.1 Why Prayer Walk?
5.2 Where and when to prayer walk
Although we are considering corporate prayer, we should also note that prayer walking can be:
Prayer walking can become a way of life, exercised wherever you are!
5.3 How to prayer walk
6. Other Corporate Forms of Prayer
In closing this Part we should also note that corporate prayer can be used for specific reasons, for example:
Each of these are sufficiently complex as to need detailed teaching on their own and are, therefore, considered beyond the scope of this seminar.