As we continue to work through practical ways to maintain a posture of prayer throughout the day I want to talk about the need to be praying with one another. It more then unfortunate-- it is spiritually deadly-- that Christians seem to so seldomly pray together outside of corporate worship (if it even happens there). Thoughout the Old and New Testaments we see prayer not only as a discipline for the individual, but as the communal exercise of faith in varying circumstances. From solemn assemblies, to the emergence of crises, to gatherings for joyful worship, God's people prayed together. It was certainly one of the devotional acts that characterized the New Testament church. Praying together today is much less common than what we see modeled in Scripture. I've become convinced that one of the reasons we struggle so much in life is because we aren't praying with one another very much, if at all. People praying for you is a needed grace. Knowing that they are praying for you is powerfully encouraging. But praying with others strengthens in a different, perhaps deeper, way.
When you gather with Christians friends does the idea of suggesting the group pray together before dismissing feel out of place? Can you even remember the last time you prayed with a brother or sister outside of a worship gathering? Let me suggest four ways you can pray begin to pray with others.
1. With your family - daily, regularly, and as needed. At meals, before putting the kids to bed, before ending the evening with your spouse, during family worship, it is good to establish sacred routines and rhythms of prayer. And, of course, take time to pray with the family for family needs and circumstances: before heading out on vacation, with your child when he is sick, or for your children before the head back to school after a break.
Idea: If you are not doing so now, start praying over your children when you put them to bed. As for God's blessing upon them: that they would know, love, and and follow Jesus; that he would protect them from the world and the Devil, and prepare them for whatever God has planned for their tomorrow.
2. With your Christian friends when you gather together. While not every gathering will lend itself to to act of prayer, many would if you will find a good time to promote it. You are among friends who love one another. Prayer will be easier than you think.
Idea. The next time you are hanging with your friends be mindful of the time, and before everyone has to depart suggest that you all take time to pray for one another.
3. With people in need - on the spot. There are times when people share with you a current painful experience. This is a great opportunity to not only tell them you will lift them up in prayer, but also to pray for them right there. I see this happening at Acts 29 Bootcamps, at church, with people out for lunch, and I know the blessing of having someone care enough about me and what I'm going through to stop, and pray for me on the spot.
Idea: The next time someone is sharing with you a significant difficulty they are facing, even fearing, ask if you could pray for them right there. They may blink at you for a second. But they'll probably say, "Yes," and afterward they will love you for it.
4. Schedule time to pray with a friend(s) weekly. For most of us it doesn't take much work to arrange a time to pray with a friend outside of a Community Group and a worship gathering, and the pay off is worth it. You might find this in a smaller "Fight Club" context, or even by scheduling morning coffee with a friend before work begins.
Idea: Talk with a friend and ask them if they would up for a brief time of prayer once a week on your lunch break, over coffee, before you work out at the gym, or even over the phone.
Praying with others is a great aid in both the practice of and encouragement in the blessing and discipline of prayer. How are you praying with others, and what benefit have you found in doing so?