I realized again, how very richly blessed I am to worship with a body of believers that truly believes in the power of prayer and collective or "corporate" prayer. For my LDS readers,
"corporate" prayer involves praying together with others. The practice of praying together with other believers is a Biblical one and was practiced in the New Testament Church. One of the earliest accounts of corporate prayer took place in the "upper room".
" Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the Mt. Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath's day journey. And when they were come in, they went into an upper room where abode both Peter and James, and John and Andrew, Philip , and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer, and supplication with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his bretheren." Acts 1:12-14
Both women and men had united in prayer and supplications. The Mother of our Lord was even present and praying as well. How beautiful a sight this must have been.
Then there was the account of collectively praying when Peter & John were released from prison and they went "into their own company" and when their friends heard the great things that God had done for them, they " lifted up their voices to God with one accord and said: Lord thou art God, and hast made heaven and earth and sea and all that in them is..... and now Lord behold their treatings, and grant unto thy servants that they with all boldness they may speak thy word...... And when they had prayed, the place was shaken were they were assembled together and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness."
What an awesome experience!! They lifted up their voices to God -- that is more than one person at that time raised their voices! That is various believers raised their voices with one accord ( at the same time) and the when they prayed the place was shaken & they were filled with the Spirit! Wow - now that is a prayer meeting! Wow!
Then there was the precious prayers offered by believers as Paul embarked on his journey to Jerusalem ....
" and when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way and they all brought us on our way with wives and children , till we were out of the city and we kneeled down on the shore and prayed. " Acts 21:5
We also have the precious account when Peter, who had been miraculously released from prison by an angel came to the house of Mary the mother of John , where "many were gathered together praying". Acts 12:12
All these accounts give us beautiful illustrations of "collective" or "corporate" prayer........
Our Lord said beautifully when He stated : " when two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also".
From the earliest days , believers have gathered to pray. Believers continue to do the same today. Many churches offer "prayer meetings" and that a set time set aside for prayer. This can be done in various ways:
1. the pastor calls for prayer requests and he prays for them , while others listen and are in 'agreement' with him .
2. a prayer meeting is open to all who wish to offer up prayers - so various believers can pray one at a time ..... while others listen and then pray as well.
3. collective prayer can also be held like the first account mentioned here where various believers lift up their voices "with one accord" and with supplications. That is one person may begin a prayer and others join in and pray along with that person, so that various people are praying at the same time. ( usually for the same reasons or over the same person)
I have experienced each one of these methods of praying as a "group" or collectively.
Each Thursday night my Church hold prayer meeting. At the beginning the children are invited to pray.... we break up in small groups, children with parents. Each child is encouraged to offer up a prayer. We take turns praying. Then afterwards, the women have a time of praying together and then the men have a time to pray together.
It is a precious experience! Not only do we get to lift up the burdens before the throne of grace, we come to truly taste of what "fellowship" is all about. It's simply wonderful to know that my brothers & sisters in Christ are praying for me, and lifting up my burdens before the Lord! It's also a blessing to be in prayer for others who may need it. The Lord knew that we needed one another - that is why he told us to not forsake the fellowship with other believers. We simply need each other!
As I shared this with my LDS friend, she was touched by this. She admitted that there is no prayer meeting in the LDS church, and they do not take time to allow for prayers to be lifted up during their Sunday meetings. They do allow their members to add the names of those who need prayers to be added to the temple "prayer roll/list". And each day these requests are prayed over in the LDS temples, although there are no specific names or requests made in behalf of individuals. That is the closest the LDS get to collective or "corporate" prayer.
As I mentioned in previous blog posts, prayer has become a precious blessing to me. Not only praying as an individual , but also praying with other believers.
"Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it unto you.... ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full". ~ John 16:23 -24
There is a fullness in joy when we pray. The sweet fellowship we experience with our Lord and with other believers unites our hearts and souls.
In Christ alone,