Want to learn more about building a life of prayer? Me too. Meet me here on Wednesdays for an ongoing series exploring prayer using Dr. Andrew Murray's book, With Christ in the School of Prayer. I'm honored to learn alongside you.
Last week we examined how prayer is hindered by unforgiveness. This week, we see how that forgiveness opens a door to a powerful relationship in prayer: when two or more of us are gathered together in His name.
Just as each member of the body depends on the other, and the full action of the spirit dwelling in the body depends on the union and co-operation of all, so Christians cannot reach the full blessing God is ready to bestow through His Spirit, but as they seek and receive it in fellowship with each other. It is in the union and fellowship of believers that the Spirit can manifest His full power. It was to the hundred and twenty continuing in one place together, and praying with one accord, that the Spirit came from the throne of the glorified Lord.
There is a dual aspect to prayer: the private, solitary intercession that is between us and the Father alone, and the fellowship of agreed prayer between members of the body of Christ. Dr. Murray tells us that both of these are vital to a proper prayer life.
He points out three hallmarks of united prayer, and in them we can see the wisdom in this connection to the Body:
The first is agreement as to the thing asked. There must not only be generally the consent to agree with anything another may ask: there must be some special thing, matter of distinct united desire; the agreement must be, as all prayer, in spirit and in truth. In such agreement it will become very clear to us what exactly we are asking, whether we may confidently ask according to God’s will, and whether we are ready to believe that we have received what we ask.
The second mark is the gathering in, or into, the Name of Jesus. ...That Name is such a reality to those who understand and believe it, that to meet within it is to have Himself present. The love and unity of His disciples have to Jesus infinite attraction: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.’ It is the living presence of Jesus, in the fellowship of His loving praying disciples, that gives united prayer its power.
The third mark is, the sure answer...A prayer meeting without recognised answer to prayer ought to be an anomaly. When any of us have distinct desires in regard to which we feel too weak to exercise the needful faith, we ought to seek strength in the help of other. In the unity of faith and of love and of the Spirit, the power of the Name and the Presence of Jesus acts more freely and the answer comes more surely. The mark that there has been true united prayer is the fruit, the answer, the receiving of the thing we have asked: ‘I say unto you, It shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.’
So many of us are accustomed to keeping our faith and our struggles private, but we see here how fellowship within the Body helps us stay on the right course. It prevents our becoming unbalanced or heading off in a wrong direction in our prayers. It requires us to maintain forgiveness and unity with the people we are praying with. And it brings results. God says quite plainly that there is power in the prayers of two or more gathered together in His name.
Who can say what power a Church could develop and exercise, if it gave itself to the work of prayer day and night for the coming of the kingdom, for God’s power on His servants and His word, for the glorifying of God in the salvation of souls? Most Churches think their members are gathered into one simply to take care of and build up each other. They know not that God rules the world by the prayers of His saints; that prayer is the power by which Satan is conquered; that by prayer the Church on earth has disposal of the powers of the heavenly world. They do not remember that Jesus has, by His promise, consecrated every assembly in His Name to be a gate of heaven, where His Presence is to be felt, and His Power experienced in the Father fulfilling their desires.
This week, will you find someone with whom you can agree in prayer? If you can, find someone to pray with whose hand you can hold and face you can see. There is great healing and fellowship in that touch and in looking into someone's eyes. In that moment, we are together under the blood of Christ and His powerful Name is present among us to bring help in our time of trouble.
Let's pray together now.
We are Your students in this school of prayer. We have learned to trust You as our Father and as our Friend; we have learned to listen and pray according to Your will. Please give us hearts to follow You into the next lesson: to be unified to the rest of Your body through prayer. Give us the humility to submit to Your call, to leave behind individualism and pride and accept the fellowship and insight of others.
We ask that You would provide each of us with a person we can pray with. Go before us and prepare the hearts of those people before we can even ask them to pray. Stir in them the same hunger You are stirring within us to be connected and unified and strengthened by fellowship before Your throne.
I ask specifically for those who have felt alone, please bring comfort through prayer. In joining together before Your throne, bring deep healing and new hope.
Thank You for working not only in our own lives but also in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Increase our vision, Lord. Increase our faith.
In the mighty name of Jesus we pray,
Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Sixteen: "Speedily, though bearing long" or The Power of Persevering Prayer
Previous entries in this series can be found here: Wednesday Prayer Series