Corporate Prayer: God's Power Creates Unity (click here for full manuscript)
"Living as a Church"
I. INTRODUCTIONGenerally speaking, why is prayer so important? Prayer is how God's people respond to him in thankfulness and praise. Prayer is how God's people cry out to him for mercy and deliverance. Prayer is how God's people call upon him to accomplish the work of his kingdom. In short, prayer is how we actively demonstrate our utter dependence on him. It honors him as the source of all blessing.
God calls his saints to be active in the work of the kingdom, whether through preaching, evangelism, and so forth (1 Cor. 3:9). But as we lean on him through prayer, we are reminded that the salvation of individuals and the growth in his churches ultimately comes from him, not from us. When his kingdom is advanced through prayer, he gets the glory because it's eminently clear that he's behind it all. (Indeed, it reminds us that even our activities of preaching, evangelizing, and praying are the result of his work.)
God uses prayer to make it very clear that he is the one who blesses. Therefore he gets the glory.
Raising the Question
But I wonder if you've considered just how important it is to pray together with other Christians. In today's individualistic culture, not much emphasis is placed on corporate prayer. But as we'll see, the Bible attaches great significance to God's people coming together to pray.II. WHY IS CORPORATE PRAYER IMPORTANT?
In Matthew 6, verse 9, just three verses after the verse I just read to you, Jesus instructs his disciples on how to pray by setting forth what we know as the Lord's Prayer.
Beginning in verse 9, Jesus says,
This then is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.Did you notice all the plurals—"our," "us," "we"? In providing a model prayer for his disciples, Jesus puts it in a form that commends it for corporate use. The prayer naturally lends itself to group prayer because of its using "our" instead of "my." Even praying the Lord's prayer privately—which is fine to do—will remind you that you are praying as part of a family of other believers. The Lord's Prayer is an invitation not only to pray but to pray together with other believers.
So why is corporate prayer—praying together with other believers—so important?
1. It Advances God's Kingdom in Face of Opposition2. It Imparts Wisdom and Guidance
3. Our Dependence Glorifies God
4. Our Unity Glorifies GodTwo things to take away from this section: (i) we grow spiritually as we hear others commit to prayer; (ii) we offer a powerful witness to non-Christians who see the love and commitment that we have for one another in our prayers.
III. HOW DOES CORPORATE PRAYER PROMOTE UNITY?
1. Corporate Prayer Draws Us Together2. Corporate Prayer Fosters a God-Centered Mindset
3. Corporate Prayer Creates a Unity of Purpose
IV. PRAYING INDIVIDUALLY FOR UNITY IN THE CHURCH
1. Pray for the Preacher and His Sermon2. Pray Through the Church Directory
3. Pray for the Church's Various Ministries and Evangelistic Outreaches
4. Pray for problems in our church