The Blessings of Group Prayer

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Having spent the past few posts on the hows and whys of individual prayer, it’s only right to acknowledge that group prayer has special benefits of its own. Jesus Himself said that “if two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19-20). And some of the early church’s greatest moments, including the first Pentecost and the commissioning of the apostle Paul as a missionary, came about in the context of prayer groups.

For many a Christian introvert, solitary prayer comes easily but group prayer is fraught with squeamish situations. Where everyone takes turns praying, you freeze up when it gets to you, sure that everyone is judging you “uncommitted” by your silence. Where prayers are offered spontaneously, your mind wanders and you keep wondering when it’ll be over.

You have my permission (I recognize God’s right to override that permission in individual cases) to stay home from gatherings called primarily for the purpose of huge-group prayer. But you shouldn’t neglect praying with others entirely. Here’s why:

Group Prayer Strengthens Relationships

By saying you shouldn’t always pray alone, I’m not saying you have to join a roomful of people, or even a circle of a dozen. Jesus specifically said it only takes “two or three” to generate real power. More about “group prayer power” in a second, but I want to emphasize first that agreeing in prayer doesn’t just improve chances of getting a “yes” answer: it draws the prayer partners closer together in Christ. Agreement in prayer creates spiritual bonds, increases mutual love and empathy, and smooths the way to agreement in more earthly things, from whether to accept a job offer to what to budget for in a building program.

If you’re married, make sure the two of you pray together daily. Include your children and anyone else who shares the household. If you live alone, find one or two intimate friends you can share a prayer period with at least weekly.

Group Prayer Generates Power

In some mysterious way, having multiple people praying as one for the same thing apparently makes it easier for God to answer that prayer with a “Yes” (Matthew 18:19-20, above). That’s not to say the prayer of a single faithful believer can’t generate miraculous results–or that every group prayer gets the answer the group was hoping for. It simply means that having everyone in agreement clears away obstacles such as contrary desires, unresolved arguments, or self-centeredness.

For maximum effectiveness in a group “request” prayer, make sure everyone understands and in fact agrees with the request. If an important matter is involved, it pays to discuss it in detail–including bringing any individual reservations into the open–before actually praying. In larger groups especially, it can be easy to simply bow your head and “go along” while in fact thinking this is not the best thing to pray for. Whether or not this affects the chance of the prayer getting a positive answer, it will become a stumbling block to your relationship with God and the group.

Group Prayer Nurtures Empathy 

Hearing others’ prayer concerns helps curb temptation to feel you have all the problems and your needs are more important than anyone else’s. It also gives you a window into others’ souls that helps you realize your struggles aren’t so unique, and often it opens opportunities for you to share the perspective of experience.

Again, you don’t have to become a prayer-meeting aficionado if that’s not the way God wired you. Gathering regularly with one or two of your most intimate loved ones can be all God needs to shower all of you with the blessings of shared prayer!

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1 Comment

  1. Jo Swank

     /  December 15, 2018

    Amen! Thank you, Kathy!

    Reply

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  • For naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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