Obligatory prayers!  That’s what they were – so I prayed them each night with frightening speed. There was the Our Father and so on followed by, “God bless Mommy, Daddy, Jimmy, Sandy, Dougie, Carol, Mark, Grandmas and Grandpas and everyone I love.”  Oh, and then the grand finale, “and God make me a good boy – Amen.”  

OK – He is still working on that last request.

I’m not sure I really understood the practice of prayer back then, but I recently read a story from the book, “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw, that has helped me out.

At the height of WWII, American P.O.W.s were loaded into boxcars in northern Germany.  American fighter planes unexpectedly pierced the sky and began to strafe what they believed to be a German supply train.

One courageous G.I. pried open the doors of the boxcars.  The soldiers scrambled out looking for cover but found none.  One ingenious soldier rapidly organized and positioned the men to form a large human billboard that could be read from above.  It said, “USA POWS.” The pilots broke off the attack and then waggled their wings to indicate that they got the message.

Perfect! They banded together in their crisis to send a message to the heavens.  Message received.  Sounds like prayer to me!

It was Jesus who said, “Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” – Matthew 18:19

The context for this is laid out in Matthew 18:15-18 where Jesus instructed the church on how to deal with congregants who choose sin.  A church needs wisdom from above for such matters for sure.  But then Jesus went on to broaden the context when He used the words, “whatever you ask.”    

He prefaced His message by saying, “Hey I am speaking truth here.”  And the truth is this, when two or more gather for the purpose of prayer, and are in agreement as to what they pray, then the Father in heaven obligates Himself to answer that prayer. 

So, does this mean that the prayers of an individual are not as important to God?  Not at all.    But there are benefits in praying together that help to conform our prayers so that they better reflect the will of God.

The key is in “agreeing” on what is prayed.  When I pray alone, I can be shortsighted or ignorant of necessary information.  I may even be selfish or blinded by a personal agenda.  Such things compromise my prayer.

But when my wife prays with me it tends to expose the imperfections in my prayer and brings a sound balance.  When my friends join in, the refining is even greater.

When I pray with others in unity, we collectively end up with a plea having the characteristics of true and effective prayer – a prayer marked by humility, sincerity and submitted to the will of God.  The very kind of prayer God is eager to answer. 

Elsewhere Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. – Matthew 7:7

Each verb – ask, seek, knock – all are plural.  These are activities that the group was to do. The word “you” is also plural in the Greek.  Jesus had a group in mind when He gave these instructions on prayer.

Certainly, personal prayer is important, but banding together for prayer is essential. Like the POWs together we spell out the message, “God help us.”  

Famous evangelist C. H. Spurgeon was taking visitors through the meeting hall where tens of thousands had been converted.  He said, “Come, and I’ll show you the heating apparatus.” They were quite surprised when he opened the door to a room where four hundred were gathered to pray. 

We need a full-fledged revival in this land.  Agreed?  Let’s band together and lift our message to heaven.

A PRAYER: Lord Jesus I pray – I mean – we pray for such a revival.

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Scripture passages from the NETBible ®