“ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.” – Acts 2:42
This passage in Acts is quoted very often in reference to how the church should worship corporately. Let’s focus in on that last word, “prayers”. Ask yourself today, “what does it mean to pray”? Is prayer simply talking to God? Jesus mentioned that prayer is something that should be done alone, in a closet; yet we also see Him praying with His disciples. We know that Jesus looked down upon those who prayed in the streets for the purpose of gaining the eye of those who would pass by. Nevertheless, when Jesus left, he told the disciples to go to the upper room and wait. What were they doing when the Holy Spirit fell on them? Acts 2 records that they were “all in once accord”. The disciples were of one common mind. Perhaps they were praying or perhaps they were talking about the marvelous things that Jesus had done.
One thing is for sure, we don’t need to inform God of our situation. We have a God that is both omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere, all the time). Yet, Jesus asks us to pray. Consider at least two possible reasons: When we pray, we are admitting to God that we are powerless to fix whatever problem is before us. We are also acting in faith requesting that the Lord act on our behalf. The Word says that “without faith it is impossible to please Him”. When we pray, however, it is not only to make request, but first of all to praise Him. Think about Jesus’ prayer as He instructed His disciples, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name”. Prayer is an act of worship. We praise God in our prayer, not simply submit our list of wants; Lest we forget, those wants need to be in accordance with His kingdom. God may give us the desire of our hearts in the things we ask for, but we must be concerned with what He is concerned about, that is His kingdom!
Personal prayer then, really is not difficult. It is simply expressing to God those things that you have on your heart in accordance with what His Word says and as the Holy Spirit prompts us. Now consider this on the larger scale. When the body comes together to worship, imagine if the entire church body began in an orderly way to express praise to God, each person being led by the Holy Spirit. How amazing it would be to have the entire body carry on a conversation with God. The reality is, many times our corporate prayer times are silent. This may occur because people are afraid how they might sound in front of other, or that they may not say something correctly. If that is you, can I encourage you to simply step out in faith and speak up. In the same way you pray on your own at home, to God by yourself, you may pray with the other brothers and sisters in Christ. In almost 25 years of ministry I have found that public prayer life often reflects personal prayer life. Those who spend time with the Lord privately often are quick to speak up and pray publicly. This is not always true, but definitely is a trend. It is powerful for an entire church body to submit to Christ in prayer. It is even more powerfully when the entire body agrees and acts by Faith asking God.
Ask yourself today, do you spend time with God alone in prayer? If so, is there a way that you can bring that prayer life into the entire church body? If you are afraid to pray publicly, will you take a step of faith next time the opportunity arises? After all you might encourage others to do the same!