“When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”—Acts 1:13–14 (NIV)
For years as a member of the Miami Dolphins, I watched Dan Marino, one of the greatest passers in NFL history, lead my team to the playoffs, only to be eliminated. Why? Because as good as he was, Marino couldn’t do it on his own. You see, team sports are just that . . . a sport that requires a team to win. LeBron James’ career further demonstrates this. After spending years single-handedly carrying an otherwise mediocre team to the playoffs and being unable to win a championship, he joined the Miami Heat and went on to win two rings. Even Michael Jordan had a strong supporting cast, including an all-time great Scottie Pippin.
So, what point am I trying to make? You can accomplish much more and have greater success as part of a team. One person—no matter how talented—trying to do it all on their own is much less effective than a good team working together to accomplish a goal.
Friends, the same is true of our lives as Christians, including in the area of prayer. I believe that one of the greatest privileges we have as part of God’s family, as members of the body of Christ, is participating in prayer together . . . to lock arms and hearts, to experience unity and solidarity as we go before our Father to lift up His name, make our requests known, and intercede for one another and the world.
There is power in corporate prayer! In it, we see walls fall down (spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes even literally, i.e. Acts 12:5–12), believers sent out into their calling (Acts 13:3) and empowered for service (2 Timothy 1:6); we see spiritual and physical healing (James 5:14–16), revelation given (Daniel 2:14–19), and experience the movement of the Holy Spirit in a powerful and unique way (Acts 4:24–31). In corporate prayer, we have the honor of rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn (Romans 12:15), making the hardest moments in life a little easier and the best moments in life that much sweeter. In corporate prayer, we are edified and equipped, comforted and challenged, strengthened and softened, enriched and emboldened.
Sadly, many are turned off or intimidated by corporate prayer. Some confuse a personal relationship with Jesus with a private relationship. But these are not mutually exclusive, as believers should be regularly engaged in private devotion and prayer (as we learned about yesterday) as well as corporate. Others are intimidated by it, feeling their prayers aren’t good enough to be uttered in the presence of others. For those who struggle with this, it’s important to remember 1) fancy words and verboseness don’t make a prayer powerful (Matthew 6:5–8), 2) you’re not praying to man or for the approval of man but to God, and 3) when we let go and open ourselves up the Holy Spirit speaks to and through us!
And that leads me to the most important thing I want to share with you today. In corporate prayer, we’re all role players, but there is a superstar among us. No, it’s not the person who seems to be most attuned to God or the most knowledgeable prayer warrior . . . the superstar who is carrying the team on His back in any and all corporate settings is the Holy Spirit! He does the heavy lifting; He advocates for us and intercedes for us. He moves and works and fills us with His Word and with His power, peace, and presence. He leads our hearts and directs our petitions. Greater than Marino, LeBron, or MJ, the Spirit is the driving force that carries our prayers in the Name of Jesus.
I’ll leave you with this exhortation: Make space for corporate prayer! Put yourself in places and spaces where you’ll have the opportunity and privilege of praying with others. You need it, they need it, the world needs it! Regardless of what season and situation you or the world is in, never stop praying with others. If this isn’t something that’s already part of your regular schedule, start this week!
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