On Corporate Prayer

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…
21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:3-18, 21, New International Version).

Several years ago, after worship, as was my habit before the virus, I greeted people at the door, shaking hands with people as they left.

It was fellowship lunch Sunday. Most church members were staying to eat. After greeting a few who were not staying, there was a person hanging back wanting to talk with me.

I don’t remember the conversation but only a few minutes passed when the first interruption came. A youth was sent to tell me I needed to come say the blessing. My response, “Go back and tell the adults, I am in a conference and I will be there as soon as I can.”

I thought someone would say, “OK, pastor is out of pocket. We can wait for him to say the blessing or I will say it and we can eat.”

WHAT WAS I THINKING? Five or ten minutes later a different youth had the same message. I said, “Go find Mr. Smith (lay leader) or Mr. Jones (Chair of the Board) and ask one of them to pray.” Yeah, that didn’t happen either.

A third youth showed up. I just put up my hand and said, Go. I wrapped-up my conversation and went to the fellowship hall. I walked in saying, “There are at least 50 Christians in here. That there is no one to pray so you can eat, I have no sympathy.” I prayed and we ate but Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones came up too me saying, “Preacher, praying in front of everybody is your job.”

That is the way many people are about being the voice in corporate prayer. People with a solid prayer life, will not pray in a group.

Some folks question if such prayer is Biblical. I am not sure where that idea comes from. Our lesson today is part of a corporate prayer. Much of Judah gathered to pray.

In Genesis 9 Noah and his sons pray together. God talks, Noah and sons listened. Flip it over and the same is true. Corporate prayer has been part of God’s people’s experience from just about the beginning of creation.

Corporate prayer is powerful and every believer can and should participate. When I was in seminary a group of Native American United Methodist pastors were also in school. During corporate prayer, these men and women all prayed vocally throughout. They knew corporate prayer.Someone began but everyone joined in. People spoke at once, all over the room. If you listened closely, you might here the Holy Spirit.

Corporate Prayer teaches us about prayer. Some of my earliest memories of prayer had someone praying out loud.

When we are involved in corporate prayer, we NEVER pray alone. Equally true, when we pray we never pray alone. God is with us. It is corporate prayer with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s says in Romans, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:28, New Revised Standard Version).

Prayer: corporate, personal, written, intercessory, flash, breath, all are prayer. If our words aren’t enough, the Spirit intercedes for us. We are people of prayer. It should serve to remind us of this, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, New Revised Standard Version.)

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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