We are having a Prayer and Worship time tomorrow at 6:30 PM as we come to the end of our time of fasting. Corporate prayer is essential for a church to grow spiritually. All of us have individual prayer lives, but we all need a rhythm of corporate prayer in our lives. There are also specific areas in the scriptures when we see God’s people praying (and fasting) corporately during the middle of a crisis.
When the Jewish people faced anhelation, they called their people to pray: “In every province, wherever the king's command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.” (Esther 4:3)
When God’s people faced challenges to return from exile to Jerusalem: “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. “ (Ezra 8:21-23)
The early church prayed for direction in appointing leaders: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ’Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)
Yes, we do not always have an urgent crisis or need, but we have many concerns today. The world is in turmoil, and our faith has many threats. For this reason alone, it is wise to come together and pray regularly. There is a great reward and power in being before God corporately.
In A Biblical Theology of Corporate Prayer, Jim Hamilton writes, "Corporate prayer exists because God has determined to grant his shalom-restoring covenants through a mediator and to a people.” As seen in the previous examples, the meditator is often corporate as well as an individual (Moses, David, Elijah, Joshua, etc.) Corporate prayer enables the church to be unified in Christ by having the same mindset and standing firm together. (I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment, 1 Corinthians 1:10). This is only done in Christ who is our savior and mediator who intercedes for us.
I learned to pray by praying with others. I grew as a disciple by praying with others. The most intimate time I have had with the Lord is when I was praying with others. It is like any spiritual practice that takes time to grow in. Let’s take that step tomorrow.