Grow Community By Praying Together
May 18, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part four in a multipart series about prayer. The elders of Oak Hills recently have been reading a book on prayer during their session meetings called Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches, by Megan Hill. This little book explores the biblical foundations, fruits, and practices of praying together. The elders have found it to be very encouraging and challenging. I want to share some gleanings from Hill’s book while adding some of my own observations about prayer.
What happens to a group of people that prays together?
Megan Hill contends that praying together “stirs up our love for other Christians” (p. 58). In fact, she says, “Love flourishes when we come together to carry one another’s burdens to the Lord” (p. 58).
Love flourishes…. Think about that. Who doesn’t want to experience flourishing love? We know we are commanded to love one another as ourselves. Praying together can help us love one another. And we certainly want to be loved by others. Joining with others to pray opens us up to be cared for by another. Don’t you want to be loved? Let others pray for you.
How does praying together lead to flourishing love? Hill highlights several aspects of praying together that cultivates deeper love.
1. Praying Together Humbles Us and Equalizes Us. Pride (“I’m too good for these folks”) and self-sufficiency (“I don’t need these folks”) kill loving relationships. When we come to pray we must acknowledge our needs and insufficiencies. When we pray with others, we cultivate humility toward others, realizing we are just as needy as anyone. This kind of humility cultivates a unity with others that fosters love for another. Hill comments, “A company of praying people is a company of people equally dependent on God” (p. 59).
2. Praying Together Unites Us Around Christ and His Mission. Our lives are forced apart by a plethora of activities, interests, and commitments. Love flounders in a church community when each individual is consumed by his or her own personal interests. How can we develop a loving relationship with people we feel we have nothing in common with? Praying together not only equalizes us before one another, it unites us in a common cause. “When we engage in spiritual battle in prayer, we are a band of brothers. Not only are we all useful in the work; we are all working for the same thing. In prayer together, we are all loyal subjects of the same king” (Hill, p. 61). Such unity allows bonds to form with others, no matter how diverse from us.
3. Praying Together Gives Us Opportunities to Care for One Another. Paul commands us in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens.” Certainly, prayer is a significant way to bear another’s burden. This is an act of love, whether we have feelings of love or not. “Praying together requires selflessness. In corporate prayer we surrender our personal priorities – holding our own checklist of prayer requests loosely while committing ourselves to pray for the needs of other individuals and of the group as a whole. Also, we surrender our own comfort – showing up to a certain place at a particular time among real people. But this is the way of love” (Hill, p. 65).
Do you want to grow in loving others? Do you want to be loved by others? Do you want to see your church grow more and more into a loving community? Let’s pray together.
I’ll let Hill give the final appeal:
“Brothers and sisters, we need each other. We need to work together, to know and be known, to love each other by prayer. Please come.” (Hill, p. 68)