#762. ALL TOGETHER (2/3/23)
This week we begin a 9-week series entitled ’Praying Together’; this series is loosely based upon the book and course, ‘The Prayers of many’ by Mike Betts. During this series, we want to learn about the importance of corporate prayer.
‘‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.’ (Acts 2:1)
SUMMARY: Most teaching on prayer is written to be applied in community rather than individualistically.
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As the New Testament era begins, we see that it begins in a prayer meeting. They were in one place praying together. The early church understood the power of community. They understood that community prayer was as important as personal devotions. In this culture we have an emphasis on individualism. I have met many Christians over the years who love and know much of God’s word, but are not devoted to a church family.
‘Jack Hayford, in his book The Church on the Way (Zondervan, 1985), tells how a guest at his church signed the visitors’ book and beside her name indicated her home church to be “the body of Christ”. For its address, she added “worldwide”. I guess her name appeared on no one’s washing-up rota!’ (Virgo, Terry. The Spirit-Filled Church)
We have a danger of reading the teaching of the New Testament on prayer as if it’s written to be applied personally rather than as a community. For example, Paul urges prayer in Romans 15:
‘I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favourably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.’ (Romans 15:30-33)
Of course, this is a great encouragement in our personal prayer but it’s primarily written to to instruct them as a community.
Praying together should also affect how we pray personally; many of us may have a prayer list for many things that move us personally, however in our personal intercession, are we also joining with and praying in sync with our local church on things we have shared concern for?
Mike Betts writes:
‘On paying closer attention to the teaching of the New Testament including those parts concerning prayer we see that it has a corporate context in mind. If you more easily think “how does this apply to me?” and not “how does this apply to us?” then you are thinking individually not corporately. If that happens a lot then we are in danger of losing vital aspects of biblical practice surrounding prayer. We need to strengthen our ideas about the very identity and nature of the church as the family, the people, the temple, the nation of God. The Bible anticipates that most of our Christian life will inevitably be worked out and filled out in a corporate context. With this in mind, mature, corporate prayer, specifically in the life of God’s people, becomes something to prize and pursue.’ (Betts, Mike. The Prayers of Many)
RESPONSE - When reading the Bible, pay attention to whether it’s written to be applied in community.
Lots of the New Testament is written to church communities and is to be applied in community. Let’s beware of our culture and the flesh which would tempt us into self-centered and individualistic lives.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
During this series, we will be using the 'Prayers of Many' course by Mike Betts.
I encourage you to buy a copy of the book from: https://prayersofmany.org/book#buybook
If you need assistance in buying a book please send an email to the church office and we will happily purchase you a copy.
Please download the course handbook from: