The Gift of Praying Together

How do you pray?

Do you normally pray on your own, in your own space?
Or does your church have a weekly or monthly prayer meeting? Does that sound like an evening of boredom and awkward silences? Or maybe you’ve had great experiences of corporate prayer and such times are thriving and soaked in the Holy Spirit!

What I’ve been mulling over for a while now is that yes praying together is modelled by Jesus and the early church:
“And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” – Acts 1:13-14 ESV

But that it is so much more than a good thing to do, but rather it is a gift from God!

Bonhoeffer states that “the physical presence of other Christians is the source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer” and that “It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community”.

Having grown up in a highly individualistic society, being fed the belief that I can do everything on my own, it has taken years of being around communities dedicated to praying together to break down my individualistic mind-set that had seeped into my personal faith.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that praying on your own is worse than praying together! It is actually utterly good and necessary!

Pete Greig, in his book How to Pray, says that “You must seek solitude and silence as if your life depends on it, because in a way it does”.

We need our times of solitude. We need that intimate, secret place with God to grow close to him. Without my morning time spent sitting on my bedroom floor with my first cuppa tea the rest of the day often feels sluggish. Time alone with God is a priority of mine – it is the bedrock of our relationship!

But we also need times to come together to pray out loud (not just all sitting in the same room quietly contemplating, though there is space for that too!). In this space God takes each of us deeper and reveals new and adventurous aspects of his character. It brings a richness that I have found nowhere else than in kneeling alongside other Christians, each of us pouring out our hearts to God.

In this place we can be inspired by one another, listen to one another, learn from one another, and best of all we get to agree with each other! We get to partner in with others prayers and say “yes and Amen!
So often you’ll find that what God is speaking to you he is also speaking to another person in the room and then confirmation arises! God is on the move – he is listening and he is participating with us!

But my favourite by-product of speaking my prayers out with others is the accountability. That we are able to feedback answers to prayer because more people are aware of what God has placed on our hearts.

Recently I was visiting a House of Prayer in Dundee and during one corporate morning prayer time I prayed that there would be no anger on the roads that day. By the evening some really bad weather had set in and one person came to me and said, “I’m so glad you prayed about the roads this morning because there were nearly three accidents on my way home, but everyone was safe and there wasn’t any anger”. Were those crashes avoided because of our prayers? Who knows! But we were able to turn it back to God, to praise and celebrate his goodness and protection! We were far quicker to recognise his hand over our day and over the city because we had talked to him together!

Charles Finney hits the nail on the head when he said that “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love on another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”

Do you want to be in a prayerful community? Do you want to know God in a new way? Are you up for the challenge? Then go, gather, pray together, and always remember our fellowship is a gift of grace, a gift from God!

Words by 24-7 Prayer Scotland Intern

The Prayer Course: More than a Formula

“…it taught my non-praying church to pray… More than a formula – through Pete’s discussions – it assisted people in having permission to pray.”

This is what Church of Scotland minister Nathan McConnell had to say about 24-7 Prayer’s The Prayer Course (prayercourse.org) after running it in his church Downfield Mains (https://www.downfieldmainschurch.org) in Dundee.

Nathan told us how he went into The Prayer Course a bit wary. He thought it could potentially be a good supplement for the Alpha Course which they had recently finished but he was concerned that another video series might bore people, or just not feel relevant to them.

However, his concerns were soon dispelled as people gathered one night a week to watch the video sessions, coming from outside of the church as well. And for those who engaged with the course, it made a significant difference in their prayer lives.

“Honestly, we didn’t know how to pray as a church,” Nathan admitted. “The Prayer Course laid a foundation”

One example is a young man who, at the start of The Prayer Course, confessed that he just couldn’t pray out loud but by week 4 was praying in tongues!

A highlight for Nathan was when they had a joint time of prayer with other churches they are networked with across the globe. Not expecting a large number, Nathan organised an on-line prayer gathering in his home with these other churches and invited anyone who want to join in to come along.
Forty-five people turned up to pray for 1 1/2 hours with and for complete strangers in other nations! Packed into the living room, sitting on the floor, yet happy to be there.

People have grown in their confidence, praying for one another and sharing prophetic words with one another. And they now have time in their worship for prophetic prayer ministry and healing prayer where they have seen God answer their prayers and heal people!

We asked Nathan if he would recommend that others do The Prayer Course. His response?
“Do it! And, pastors, take it seriously. If you want to move your people forward, The Prayer Course will give you a platform.”

The Prayer Course has been downloaded over a million times and just this week, 24-7 Prayer launched the new, fully updated, free, downloadable Prayer Course!
There are eight sessions, leaders guides, thirty different accompanying prayer tools, and it follows the same format as Pete Greig’s newest book How to Pray so that the Prayer Course and the book can be used side by side if so desired. For more information go to prayer course.org.

Pray for the Harvest

Anna Wakening of St Paul’s & St George’s in Edinburgh shares about their recent 24-7 prayer week held for the purpose of calling the church to pray in the lead up to their Vision Sunday.

“In the week leading up to our ‘Vision Sunday’ we as a staff team decided to run a week of prayer to gather the church together to pray into our vision.

Having previously been an employee of 24-7 Prayer I felt that this would be a great opportunity for me to use some of the experience of those years. So I happily volunteered to take on the set up of the prayer room. This was on Tuesday, the prayer week was to start on Monday. There was some panic and trepidation when Sunday afternoon came and the room was still bare. But with the help of some faithful volunteers, the prayer room was finished within a few hours! Amazingly, this did not take a lot of resources – I borrowed bean bags from Youth, colourful squares of paper from Children’s Ministry. And with a creative friend alongside me, we were able to create a beautiful atmosphere like you can see in the picture above.

The theme of the prayer room was around Luke 10:2 – “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.”
Having an agricultural background I focused on the the four simple stages of harvest: Ploughing, planting, growing, harvesting. I gave a brief description of each but kept it simple to allow people to interpret for themselves as they spent time praying for the church.

It was a great privilege to be able to use the gifts that God has given me to help the church to pray and journey forward together.

As we looked at our Church vision, we wanted to gather as a church to pray into the specific areas of ‘Pray’, ‘Serve’ and ‘Give’ as these three words are shaping and changing the culture of our church body.

The week of prayer culminated with our ‘Vision Sunday’ where Dave our Rector shared from his time in the prayer room. He talked about the four stages of harvesting and how we as a church are presently in the stage of ploughing. Taking the old, used soil and turning it over to help the soil to be nutrient-rich and ready to supply all that the seeds need to grow.

We continue as a church to seek to grow as we are called to be whole-life disciples, sharing the whole of the gospel, with the whole of society, through churches of grace.

I just want to encourage you that if the desire to run a prayer week is strong within you but you are daunted by the task of setting up a prayer room, have no fear. The Lord God has given you everything you need to be everything He wants you to be.
There are lots of resources available on the 24-7 Prayer website and they have a great sign-up system that made the whole process really easy, therefore giving me the time to focus my energies on the content of the prayer room itself.”