…they raised their voices together in prayer to God (Acts 4:24).
Powerful prayer is focused prayer. It is not a shotgun approach—giving prayer requests and praying for ten different things. Effective corporate prayer is topical. The leader explains, “Now we are going to pray for . . .” We see this played out in the story of Peter’s imprisonment (Acts 12). Verse 5 tells us of a prayer meeting for Peter. Not everything under the sun, and “oh yeah, don’t forget Peter.” In the morning worship service, picking one subject for which to pray is all you need to do—and it is powerful.
Powerful prayer is one voice prayer. One voice is a numerical principle. As was mentioned above, the same chapter in Acts tells us that the church was earnestly and constantly praying to God. Everyone. Not five people in a little room on Wednesday night. A powerful dynamic occurs when an entire congregation prays on the same theme. Again, the only place you will have the entire congregation together is Sunday morning worship.
Powerful prayer invites God’s Presence. In 2 Chronicles 6-7 at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, we see God’s glory indwelling His temple so much that everyone fell with their faces to the ground. No one went inside. In Solomon’s dedication prayer, he invited God to come and dwell. “Now therefore, arise, O LORD God, to your resting place . . .” (2 Chron. 6:41). We often just take comfort in the presence spoken of in Matthew 18:20: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” But there is another presence of God—His manifest presence. It is a presence you can literally sense. It is a transforming presence. We need to look for ways to encourage that presence of God into our midst. He comes by invitation and He comes through praise. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people. There is no better place to regularly experience the manifest presence of God than the worship service. When we pray in the middle of, or following a time of intense worship—worship that is entirely focused upward, on Jesus Christ rather than on us—we more readily sense His presence and our prayers become more kingdom focused.
Powerful prayer occurs when there is agreement. The last element of powerful corporate prayer is praying in agreement. This is different than focus. It is where everyone knows and agrees with what they are asking God. Often when a congregation prays about an issue in a church there is not agreement. We all have a different idea of what should be done. So when we pray, we often just pray our own agendas. (Just as an aside—agreement will come in any issue if people pray together. As we pray with others, we become more open to God’s agenda and we let go of our own.) In a leader-directed prayer time during a morning worship service it is easier to be in agreement. The leader simply gives direction as to what they will ask God to do. He might say something like this, “After seeking God, the leaders of our church feel that God is moving us to look for a piece of property on which to build. Let’s ask God to reveal that piece of land to us.”
Lord, You are an incredibly Present Father! I am always amazed by the fact that You have created me to pray, and orchestrated a way that Your Spirit, living within me, intercedes through me! As I come together with other believers to pray, pour out Your power as we focus upon those things that You desire, and as we raise one voice to invite Your Presence into the midst of our prayers! As we come together in agreement, You are able to speak to our hearts as a corporate body and bring us into perfect alignment with the plans You have for us. What a mystery prayer is…I stand in awed amazement of Your grace-filled heart.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 48, Prayer in the Corporate Worship Service by Jonathan Graf). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God for caring intimately about you. Thank God for choosing you to help fulfill his plans. Confess any self-centeredness or preoccupation with your desires and needs rather than those of God and others. Commit yourself to walking under the Spirit’s control, trusting him with the circumstances of life (Ps. 31:15). Ask for more sensitivity to the needs of others.
Pray for persons who have decided to follow false religions. Ask God to open their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6).
“We ought not to tolerate for a minute the ghastly and grievous thought that God will not answer prayer. History, as manifested in Christ Jesus, demands it.” —Charles H. Spurgeon
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