If you want to be unified - pray with other believers
I have been contemplating the connection between praying together and unity for a couple of weeks.
It cannot be a coincidence that, right after instructing his disciples how they should resolve a dispute between church people, he tells them this:
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19–20)
Why is the most explicit passage on Jesus’ desire for unity part of his prayer in John 17? The disciples were there. I imagine they are praying with him, not just hanging out nearby. We do not have a record of what their prayer-response was, if any, but that incident coupled with the text in Matthew 18, as well as the many examples in Acts leads me to surmise that praying together is an essential part of maintaining true Christian unity.
What are your thoughts?
Two teaching classes and two devotionals are on the YouTube channel and Podcast feed if you would like to explore my thinking further.
Outline of the second teaching class
* We often speak about prayer. We believe in it, we practice it, and we value it.
* However, we less frequently speak about praying together. Why might that be?
* In the first class we examined what the Scriptures teaches about praying together. Today we explore further the reasons for praying together and how it benefits us. We will use Matthew 18:18-20 as a starting point.
““Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.””
(Matthew 18:18–20 NIV11)
The actions above are in the plural. Jesus expects us to pray together and offers inspiration as to why it is important.
1. Why is praying with others such a powerful experience?
- Praying with others allows us to come together in a shared experience of faith and connection.
- It allows us to support each other in our spiritual journeys and to feel a sense of community.
- When we pray together, we are able to share our burdens and joys, and we can feel a sense of belonging.
2. What are some specific benefits of praying with others?
- It can deepen our own prayer life. When we pray with others, we can learn from their experiences and perspectives, and we can gain new insights into our own faith.
- It can also be a source of comfort and strength during difficult times. When we pray with others, we know that we are not alone, and we can draw on the support and encouragement of the community. Acts 4:24.
3. What is some advice for those who want to start praying together?
- Be open to the idea of praying with others.
- Start with small, simple prayers.
- Be respectful of each other's differences and listen with an open heart.
* Today we have established that it was customary for the church to pray together. Part of this was doubtless down to a Jewish background where people worshipped and prayed together. But it was also because Jesus taught his disciples to pray together.
* Individual prayer is a vital part of our growing maturity and strengthening our relationship with God. But learning to be a praying community is just as crucial.
* Why not make March the month where you will experiment and explore praying together with your spouse, other members of your family, housemates, people in your family group, location, or even beyond your regular church community?
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