What does the Bible say about corporate prayer?

Prayer is the act of our relationship with God. When we pray, we are speaking to Him, sharing our heart, telling Him what's on our minds, adoring His majesty, asking for His help, returning His love. God not only wants to be a part of every facet of our lives, but He also wants to share relationship with us. Prayer is something we do both individually and together with other believers. Our relationship with God is both private and corporate.

The Bible affirms God's love for us as individuals (Psalm 139; Luke 12:7) and our private interactions with Him (Psalm 42:1; 63:1–8; Acts 10:9). Jesus modeled spending time alone with God (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). He also told His followers, "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:6). At the same time, the church is called the "body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27). We are His family (John 1:12; Romans 8:14–17; 1 John 3:1–2). Hebrews 10 specifically encourages believers to gather together to encourage one another in the faith (Hebrews 10:23–25). The model prayer Jesus taught His disciples begins with "Our Father" (see Matthew 6:9–13). In these metaphors and instructions we see how believers form a community and how our relationship with God is also one we enjoy and express together. Both private prayer and corporate prayer are important.

We can learn about corporate prayer from the attitude the early church adopted towards it. The early church "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers … And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:42–47). The Bible is full of other examples of believers praying together and asking for prayer (Acts 1:14; 12:12; Romans 15:30–32; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:18–20; Colossians 4:3–4; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). Corporate prayer has always been part of the church.

When we pray together we are agreeing before God in the prayers of other people. We are joining as a family to worship Him, confess before Him, and seek His wisdom. We are sharing in the burdens of others by lifting them up to God in prayer, actively demonstrating our love for others by going to God both with them and on their behalf. James also writes to the church about the importance of praying together for healing and for confessing sin because "the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16). In corporate prayer we are actively supporting brothers and sisters in Christ in their thankfulness, requests, and praise. We are functioning in unity as a church body.

Corporate prayer also teaches us how to pray as we listen to what other people pray for and the way they pray about those things. In prayer we get to know each other more intimately as our walls are removed and we approach our Savior in humility. Corporate prayer can also reveal people's wrong attitude towards God and their lack of knowledge of Him. Corporate prayer strengthens the church and unites us in purpose, joining together to fight the attacks of the enemy and fight for one another.

The power of corporate prayer is the same as the power of private prayer—that power is God Himself, not our words or the number of people praying or our body posture while doing so or anything else. Believers in Jesus Christ have been given the privilege of coming to God in prayer (Hebrews 4:14–16; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18; Philippians 4:6–7). Prayer is a means by which God chooses to accomplish His will, but it is according to His wisdom (Luke 11:13; Ephesians 6:18; 1 John 5:14–15). People praying together unites us in mind and purpose, but it does not magically force God to act as we want Him to. Rather, it is a way for us to come together in community and humility before God, entrusting ourselves to Him and seeking His will. Whether alone or corporately, our part in prayer is simply to come before God in humility, as forgiven people, and in confidence, as those who have been adopted into His family and invited to relationship with Him and participation in His work (Hebrews 4:14–16).

Corporate prayer should never be abused to gain respect or admiration from others. Jesus warns against prayer in front of people in order to impress them (Matthew 6:5–8). Jesus promises that earthly respect is the only reward for hypocritical prayer. However, if we are humble in our understanding of our position before God, we can participate in powerful corporate prayer that edifies us, grows us in our relationship with God, and builds up the body of Christ.

Related Truth:

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