Debi, Prescott, Arizona
"If God hears my prayers when I pray alone, and answers them, why do we need to pray in groups? Please don't use the "Wherever two or more are gathered..." verse.
I need to know what's so good about group prayer. I am asking this because my mother-in-law is having a hard time with this area and I used the
"two or more verse..." and can't think of another verse or what to tell her.
When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He gave them an outline for prayer that has come to be called The Lord's Prayer but which more accurately should be called The Disciples' Prayer.
It begins with "OUR Father . . . ." Thus Jesus' teaching regarding prayer emphasizes that it is a family activity in which we join with the family of God in
addressing our petitions to OUR Father.
Another reason for corporate prayer is that prayer is spiritual warfare, and in warfare there is strength in numbers.
The central petition of the Lord's prayer is "Thy Kingdom, come;
thy will be done . . . ." The grammatical structure of this petition in New Testament Greek (koine Greek) is such that the petition actually reads like this:
"Come, thy kingdom! Be done, thy will!" By placing the verbs at the forefront of their respective clauses, an imperative mood is intended. Praying that petition is to pray forcefully.
It is putting one's foot down and declaring how things are going to be.
Why speak to God in the imperative? That opens a whole new question: Is prayer always talking to God?
or is it sometimes speaking things in God's hearing with the expectation that God will hear and back our words with the authority of heaven?
Prayer is both.
Consider this: Jesus said that it is the Father's good pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Luke 12:32), but in another place Jesus said that the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing and that the spiritually violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12).
(This latter verse uses "kingdom of heaven" rather than "kingdom of God," but that's because Matthew was
writing to a Jewish readership whereas Mark was not. The meaning is the same,
though.) Why would it be necessary to take by force what God freely gives to us?
Because prayer involves spiritual warfare: We gratefully receive from the benevolent hand of God and violently rend from the obstructing clutches of the devil the blessings and benefits provided for us in the atonement of Christ. Remember that "kingdom of God" simply means "the realm in which God reigns" and is not referring specifically to heaven.
So, we are receiving from God and snatching from the demonic
realm the blessings of God's reign in our lives.
Since prayer involves spiritual warfare in which we must violent rend the blessings for which we pray from the obstructing clutches of the devil, it is helpful that we
pray IN AGREEMENT in GROUPS as there is increased power in
numbers. (I think it is better to avoid praying in groups if there is not mutual understanding and agreement about what is to transpire in
prayer as this would end up being wasted time.) The Old Testament principle of God's blessing on the troops of Israel when they were living in faithfulness to Him could be applied here to spiritual warfare as well:
One can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30).
Applying this principle to prayer, we could say that every time you add one person to the group who is in agreement with what you're praying for and is standing in faith for the answer, the effectiveness of the group against the
Enemy just increased 10 times. So . . .
1 can put 1,000 to flight.
2 can put 10,000 to flight.
3 can put 100,000 to flight.
4 can put 1,000,000 to flight.
5 can put 10,000,000 to flight.
6 can put 100,000,000 to flight.
7 can put 1,000,000,000 to flight.
Since one thousand times one million equals one billion, and one alone can put one thousand to flight, then praying with six other people who are in agreement with the prayer
will multiply one person's effectiveness by one million. If Daniel had to fast and pray for 21 days before the Angel Gabriel could break through enemy lines in the heavenlies to get God's answer through to Daniel, what might have happened if Daniel and six others had fasted and prayed for only one day?
Perhaps the angel Michael would have been dispatched much sooner to break through enemy lines represented by the demonic principality of Persia to get the answer through to Daniel and company with much less resistance.
(See Daniel 10 for this account.)
Let me just add one other thought here. A large part of what Jesus does in our lives when He redeems us is to bring us into the family of God.
The nature of sin is to isolate us and make us focused in upon ourselves whereas the work of redemption brings us into a family and makes us increasingly outwardly focused.
Praying together in groups who are of the same mind and heart is a powerful expression of our redemption.
This expression itself is an effective act of spiritual warfare. Consider Paul's words on this:
"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms . . . ." (Ephesians 3:10)
Paul is actually saying here that the demonic principalities that operate from the "heavenly realms" will be enlightened to see what God is doing in the work of redemption by seeing what He is doing in the church, the family of God.
Corporate prayer is certainly a powerful reflection of the work of God in His church.