Group Conversations With God

Susan was one of our family’s closest friends. Rhea and I got to know her during a mission trip to West Virginia the year we got married. She and her husband were both there, and we connected immediately. A few months after that trip, her husband disappeared for several days. He had been on a drunken bender and was avoiding Susan and the kids. Things in his life continued to unravel and he was now in trouble with the law. As things kept spiraling downward their marriage ended in divorce. Susan now had the kids to herself and was struggling to make ends meet. She had credit card bills piling up and was facing the very real possibility of filing for bankruptcy. Needless to say, she was finding herself in a state of helplessness.

Susan was part of a small group that we were in. That night she showed up to group just looking like she was beat up by life. She was in tears. She felt like she was an awful mom because she couldn’t provide for her children. We all just felt this heaviness that night and I had to make a call. I pulled our group together and told them we wouldn’t be doing our study that night. Instead, we would take the rest of our time as a group and pray for Susan. Through tears we all prayed together for the next 45 minutes, lifting Susan and the kids up and asking for intervention in her situation. To this day, that was one of the most powerful group nights I’ve ever experienced. God’s people came together to lift one of our own up. Though we were many voices, that night we were one. Everyone that was in that living room felt the power of the Holy Spirit at work. 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:42

The last two days we’ve talked about how the early Church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread. Today, we’ll focus on prayer. The first week of January we talked about the spiritual discipline of prayer. We saw that Jesus was recorded praying 25 times in the gospels. We talked about the need to pray individually. Now we’ll talk about praying corporately, or in a group. This was a HUGE part of the early Church. They were known to pray together often, and on many occasions, they would pray for long periods of time. They genuinely believed in the power of prayer. In the fourth chapter of Acts, we see where the early Church prayed for boldness in the times after Jesus left.

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:31

When the people of God come together to pray, amazing things can happen. I personally have seen people recover from financial disarray, cancer disappear, marriages reconciled, and lost children find their way home. This shouldn’t be odd. This should be standard in the lives of Christ’s disciples. When we come together to pray, there should be a high level of expectancy. We should expect the Holy Spirit to act on our prayers. We should expect to see results.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:13–16

Corporate or group prayer shouldn’t just be done for results, though. We should desire prayer together to connect closer to God. There’s something special that happens when a group of people come together and lift up prayers to our Father. There’s something at work there that unites us as Christ finds Himself there with us.

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:18–20

Jesus Christ Himself is there with us when we gather in His name. When we are praying together, the Son of God joins in with us. How amazing is that? The Lamb of God, the Light of the World, our Savior is there in the room with us?!?!?! There’s a reason why there is so much power involved when we pray together as a community. The early Church understood this. Do we? Have we fully grasped just how amazing it is that Jesus Himself would be among us while we pray together?

Shortly after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples went to the upper room to gather and pray. There were about 120 people there, and their main focus was prayer…for days. 

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 1:13–14

This was how the disciples prepared for what was next. It was after this time that they would enter Jerusalem with tongues of fire over their heads and share the Gospel of Jesus with everyone who was there for the Day of Pentecost. Each person heard the Word of God in their own language as the disciples spoke in tongues. This is the day that the Church began, and the lead-up to it was prayer. They knew from their time with Jesus that prayer wasn’t just talking to the sky. They knew it had power and connected them to God. It only makes sense that they did that as a group.

Finally, there is healing when we pray together. We are not a perfect people. We make mistakes. We fail from time to time. We hurt each other. Prayer has a way of repairing those things. When we come together and confess our sins to each other and pray for forgiveness, God does amazing things.

“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

If you don’t have a group of friends or colleagues to pray with, find some people to join you in connecting with God and invite Jesus into the room with you. There’s something amazing that happens when the Holy Spirit works in that room.

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