Did you know that communication is a growing process? No one just picks up a phone and assumes the person at the other end knows intuitively what they were going to say. It is the same with prayer. Yes, we serve and pray to an infinitely all-knowing and omnipresent being, the Almighty God, but there still needs to be communication. Now, I would not say that communication is one of my natural skills, but prayer is a discipline I have been working on throughout my believing life. Communicating with God in prayer is what gets my day going. But this first thing in the morning communication is not run of the mill either. It's not, "Hi, good morning Lord, here is my agenda and plans, please bless them," type prayer, but one through which a deep love is communicated. In fact, it is the most intimate relationship as a believer in Jesus we will have. And here is the kicker...it takes time.
I recently read the phrase "love is time." Ask my husband, Joost, and he will tell you that quality time is my love language. So, if I desire to nurture my prayer life, I need to spend time in my intimate communication with God. And I need to add commitment, because we all know relationships need that too. So, if we strive for an intimate communication with God, we need to seek, know, and love him.
Scripture tells us that if we SEEK him, he is the rewarder of those who do (Hebrews 11:6b) and KNOW him, which is to know the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus…(Philippians 3:8a), then we will LOVE God as 1 John 4:16 tells us: "…God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." Through these steps of seeking, knowing, and loving, our faith, obedience, and praise of God increase as does our desire to be in that intimate relationship with him through prayer. It's not complicated and, as Daniel Henderson wrote, "the only enduring motive for prayer is that God is worthy to be sought."
So, let's take this one step further. I know most of us, as Christ followers, have some form of prayer discipline and personal time with God, but how does this equate with praying with others?
Well, in my walk and time in ministry, I have seen a misconception that only certain people are called or gifted to be intercessory prayer warriors. Some of us truly believe there are people in our churches and our lives who seem to have that special intimate connection with God. They are relentless when it comes to praying for others. I experienced one such lady in my life while we lived in Norway. Jennifer was originally from Nigeria and boy, could she pray. In fact, she had trouble coming to terms with the fact that most prayer meetings had to end at a certain time unlike in Nigeria where meetings go through the night. But whether it is a long or short prayer time, the reality as Christ followers is we are all called to pray for others and the needs in our midst. And, our level of love for God is directly related to our desire to seek him in this way. The word "love" being the pivotal word in the bible for our communication with God and with one another. Whatever or whomever we love will motivate us.
In Ezekiel 22:30, God is searching for those who would stand in the gap, to intercede for others. The invitation is for all Christians to serve through intercessory prayer. Praying for others is not a choice; it is our privilege.
Whether we believe it or not, we are all equipped to be prayer warriors on behalf of others. We are heirs of Christ. We are adopted sons and daughters and therefore possess the same power and access to God that our Saviour enjoys. Wow, what an amazing thought, that because of Christ's sacrifice we possess the same access and power! Look to scripture and see how the people of old prayed to God, their Father, be it through whispers, cries of joy or anguish, or requests; he hears us. Sharing in the inheritance of Jesus, we are called high priests with a direct connection to God and an opportunity to offer up prayers on behalf of family, friends, church, neighbours, government officials, and our nation. The words do not have to be perfect, only spoken through love and trust in a God who hears and answers. Seek, know, and love. You may be thinking: okay, I know this, and I already do all this - God and I have a great understanding about my prayer life. But I think that's the point, it’' not always about my prayer life but a relationship with the Living God and that takes two-way conversation. When we seek the Lord with others, God speaks more powerfully and others hear it too.
So, let's chat about coming together with one another to pray together. As a body here at South Delta, we are still transitioning out of a time of isolation and restrictions due to the pandemic. We know what it is like to be alone, away from those whom we love and have a common belief with. So, would you even think about coming to Sunday worship if you were the only one there?
So, what does this have to do with prayer? I am so glad you asked.
We are made to live in community with one another! This is true in virtually every aspect of our life, even when it comes to prayer. In the early church, they constantly gathered and earnestly prayed together. While I am truly thankful that we have the technology so we could continue to meet and pray online during COVID, I missed the physical presence of others praying around me.
Here are three reasons why it is important to pray together in community.
In Acts 1:14 and Acts 4:23-31 we read that intentionally praying together is important and here is why:
1. There is strength in numbers:
Matthew 18:20 says, "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."
This verse does not mean that God is not there if you are alone, it just demonstrates the power that is created when we approach God's throne together. We are meant to live in community together and it is no different with prayer.
2. Reminds you that there are REAL people with you on this journey of life:
I really struggle when people choose to suffer alone. They do not want help. They want to do it on their own, figure it out their own way. That is not what God calls us to do. We are supposed to share what burdens us and help other burdened people.
Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
We are supposed to be there for each other and this includes being in prayer. When people come to pray with you and/or for you, it reminds us that there are real people in your corner cheering you on and that are there to help you. You do not have to suffer alone.
3. Others can petition God for you when you do not have the strength or words:
I will be honest with you: I have had times in my life when I have been so down and defeated. Candidly speaking, I no longer had any words to speak to God. My mind was empty and I was numb. But then, amazing Godly people and family entered my life.
At times like this, people have surrounded me and covered me with prayer, and I have felt the relief that only comes from God. However, you actually have to tell someone what you are feeling so you do not suffer alone. If you are in one of those valleys right now, tell someone and get on the road to recovery.
So, let me summarize. Prayer is a relationship, an intimate one with God. It needs time, commitment, and obedience, and we need to pray for, and with, one another. That is our privilege.
In our newest episode of SDBC Podcast, Mary Grierson is joined by Rebecca van den Brink, our Director of Discipleship and Care Ministries. Rebecca is passionate about prayer and in this episode she will teach eight points about why prayer is so important to our walk with God. Mary and Rebecca will also discuss different ways of cultivating a life of prayer. Listen now on our website or find us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.