(The theme of this year is Year of Prayer: Pursuing the Heart of God. We have four quarterly emphases:
1st Q: Personal Prayer, 2nd Q: Praying Together, 3rd Q: Praying for our Nation, 4th Q: Praying for the Harvest.)
18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:18-20
While we may pray alone, there are many passages in the Bible which teach on the need to pray with others.
The above passage from Matthew 18 comes to mind. There is power in prayer agreement (v19). Where two or three are gathered in prayer (read verse 20 in context), there is a promise of the Lord’s authoritative presence.
As we have witnessed during Maundy Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsamane, Jesus asked for prayer companionship. He asked Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)
Jesus Himself underlined the Old Testament teaching that the temple of the Lord is a "house of prayer." The Body of Christ, described as the new “temple” is also where prayer is to take place. Of course the church gathers for many reasons and there are different activities. But prayer is one central mark of her identity as a gathered community.
In the early Church, the Christians continued their Jewish customs of meeting regularly in prayer (as recorded in the Book of Acts). The Church in her chequered history, even when under persecution, gave priority to worship and prayer whenever they came together.
Praying together defines the very purpose of why the Church gathers together. Prayer is for every Christian and not meant for only those who are more spiritually committed. Prayer somehow turns a gathering into a community of the Lord, where the Lord is present (Matt 18:20) and working (Matt 18:19). Prayer focuses the gathering on our mission to the world (Matt 18:18). Prayer forms a needed bond of inter-dependence between Christians and a deep sharing (“koinonia”) of our life and faith.
We do this in every weekend Service. If you care to notice, we pray a lot in our Services. We may be praying through our liturgy, hymns and songs. Many of our songs are actually prayers. Then of course, we have the intercession time where we are more specific in praying for needs. The Communion liturgy involves praying together and to the Lord. If there is ministry time, we pray for one another.
When we gather in our Connect Groups and other types of small gatherings, we pray. As we should.
And then, every once in a while, we gather (i.e. our monthly Prayer and Praise) to pray in a very focused way. Issues are shared and prayed over which we cannot easily share in our weekend Services, which are of course, more public in nature. These corporate prayer meetings ( I prefer to call them family prayer gatherings!) are also linked with our intercession ministry. The intercession ministry is co-led by Pastor Lian Swan and Pas Grace Tan, and a small intercession team prays regularly and deeply for the Cathedral, Diocese and our nation. I am indebted to their spiritual devotion and focus. While they do not tell me how I should lead the Cathedral, their clarity of spiritual priorities often inspires me and encourages me to keep the focus. As there is much in my scope of responsibilities, it is all too easy to be caught up with the urgent rather than the important, or lose the spiritual vision in the midst of everything.
I do not think I can say enough on this issue. May we renew our commitment to pray with one another.