I love prayer time more than any other part of our Sunday worship gatherings! When I extend the invitation to people to come for prayer, anywhere from 20-30% of the congregation makes their way down to the front of the church. There I see extended families stand with their arms around each other. Tears fall freely as hearts are open to God’s presence. As I, and other elders from the church, move down the line anointing people in the Name of Jesus, symbolically calling on the Spirit of God to bring healing, hope, and restoration – I see the light of faith come in the eyes of those who are standing there! Sometimes the crush of the weight of the human need standing in front of me breaks my heart, and I too, begin to lead in prayer only to find myself too choked with emotion to speak because I know that it is a cancer diagnosis, a pending divorce action, a threatened lay-off, a heart broken by disappointment – that people are bringing to God. The connection that is formed by the Spirit of God, the pure love that fills the room at that moment, is indescribable.
What a holy moment: people bringing their needs to the Almighty God. To someone seeing this with human eyes it might appear to be foolishness, just an exercise in wishful thinking. To me it is an intersection of Heaven and Earth, amazing, powerful, and unbelievably life-giving. The Bible says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16, The Message)
Do you pray with others? To be honest, I find prayer meetings distasteful if they are allowed to become displays of piety, filled with pathetic attempts at feigned spirituality, where some feel the need to go on and on, stringing Bible phrases and church clichés together in long, boring speeches to God. Jesus says, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again.” (Matthew 6:7, NLT) Some of the most powerful prayers I have ever been part of had few, even no words. A wordless hunger for God’s Presence, a humble silence before Him, brought people together and the Spirit of God connected them together with a divine ‘electricity.’
Even Jesus knew the value of shared prayer. On the night before He became the Sacrifice for the sins of the world, He was crushed by the knowledge of the way of Cross that lay before Him. The Lord of Glory made this request of his friends – “They came to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus told his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, “I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” (Mark 14:32-34, The Message) Somehow Peter, James, and John failed Him that night, falling asleep when just needed them to be with Him. They missed the opportunity to experience the Presence of God.
When your pastor says, “let us pray,” don’t allow your mind to wander off. Don’t just go to sleep. Instead, join your heart with others. Pray earnestly for the needs presented and your own needs as you enter in to His love. Ponder this amazing promise – “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20, NIV)
Let us pray!