The Power of Praying Together
As I've shared many times, praying in faith is a powerful force that can enable God to work in our behalf. God will hear and respond to the faith of any one of His followers who call upon Him, but even more so whenever multiple believers combine and unify their faith and prayers. The Bible says that even as few as two, who come into agreement and combine their prayers of faith, can expect an amplified effectiveness. “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19-20 NLT).
Time and again, I’ve witnessed the amazing results of believers praying together in agreement for various needs... and have always conveyed the importance of this principle to the many congregations we’ve ministered to. In my view, Jesus’ promise to bring His presence to wherever two or more are gathered in His name, and to answer their prayers of faith and agreement, is one of the most astounding promises in the Bible. This something that Christians need to appreciate and implement every time they meet.
An example of this can be seen in scripture, when the church body prayed together for Peter, who had been arrested and jailed by King Herod. “...while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him” (Acts 12:5 NLT). And as they prayed, an angel appeared to Peter and miraculously led him out of the prison, but when he soon came knocking at their door, most could not believe it was him! Though a servant girl recognized it was Peter, many scoffed and even assumed it had to be his deceased spirit, until they finally opened the door and realized it was really him! (Acts 12:5-15). I have chuckled at this many times... to think how they were praying for a miracle of Peter’s deliverance, and then couldn’t believe it when he showed up at the door. Hopefully, if any others of us pray similarly for such miracles, it won’t come as a surprise when it happens!
This reminds me of a series of nightly church meetings we held in Indiana years ago, in which we would conclude each service in prayer for various needs or burdens. As different ones shared their needs, one woman made the same request each night... for her husband to come to church and get saved. As I recall, she explained that he was a drunk who opposed her relationship with God, and even opposed her going to church. Each night we prayed in agreement for various needs, including this man.
Finally, during the closing meeting on Sunday night, we ended the service with prayer at the altar... and while we were again praying for the woman’s husband, I saw a stranger stumble in the back door of the church and begin staggering down the center aisle. When he reached the front where we were gathered, the woman was shocked... it was her husband, who that night knelt and surrendered his heart to Christ! And the most amazing thing of all, he had no idea how he got to the church, nor did he know this was the church his wife attended!
The combined prayers of other believers are also especially effective when praying for healing. The bible says that when you are ill, you should ask elders (plural) of the church to come pray over you, promising that their prayers of faith will make them well. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).
When we pray for the sick, we usually follow this pattern described above by James. A church elder or elders anoints the sick persons with oil (a symbol of the Holy Spirit), and prays the prayer of faith. But we may also combine this with Christ’s promise of Matthew 18:19-20, by inviting our other fellow believers to unify their faith with ours, as we all pray and believe together for the Lord to perform the healing.
If your church has prayer gatherings or corporate prayer meetings (which I think all churches should have), you should participate. If it doesn’t, offer to help your church start one. If there’s anything that a church should be about, it should be prayer. Quoting from Isaiah 56:7, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’” (Matthew 21:13).
When in need of prayer, such meetings are a good place to come request the combined prayers from your fellow believers. It’s also a tremendous opportunity for you to join with combined prayer for others, as well as for the pastor and the church. Basically, all believers need prayer... and we all are charged with the responsibility of praying for each other. “Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).
Sadly, church prayer meetings have become so poorly attended in recent years, many congregations have simply given up trying to maintain them. This really is nothing new, since as far back as the 19th century, Charles Finney said, “Prayer meetings are the most difficult meetings to sustain because they are the most spiritual meetings of the church.”
However, nothing will help and strengthen the ministry of the church or the pastor more than prayer. In fact, I saw a clever phrase along this theme some time ago: “If your church thinks it needs a better preacher, pray for the one you’ve got!” How true this is! And not only will a praying church enjoy the fruit of God’s favor... it cannot hope to achieve any meaningful successes without it. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
People rarely understand the great need to pray for their church and leaders, who deal with enormous spiritual challenges. Besides just doing their best to survive the modern trends of declining attendance, so they can minister to people who generally have overwhelming problems, pastors also frequently struggle with their own personal difficulties. Church members may not realize that clergymen often suffer some of the highest occurrences of stress related illnesses. And since they often find the challenges of ministry so great, it’s been reported that hundreds of pastors quit the ministry each month. And in case you’ve not noticed, in recent years the body of Christ in America, has become an increased target of persecution and hostility, spewed freely by anti-Christian groups, the news media, as well as our own government.
Never have the forces of darkness been more intensely focused on the church of Jesus Christ. But Praise God, He has given us the spiritual weaponry of prayer to face and overcome these assaults! Through such prayer, the Gospel of Christ can continue to move forward and flow freely with the desired effect of bringing souls into the Kingdom of God. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).