I’m going to offer a foolproof suggestion to help you grow in your relationship with God this year. It’s not a resolution you can fulfill on your own, on a treadmill or in your private Bible study. But it is very simple: pray with someone else regularly.
Take it from Scripture
The Bible is full of stories of intercessory, corporate prayer. Moses intercedes for the Israelites. Esther calls for communal fasting and prayer. David and the psalmists pray for their communities. Peter crashes a party of people praying for him. Paul prays with his fellow missionaries and asks churches to pray together for them. In John’s vision of God’s final judgment, the prayers of the saints are pictured as bowls of incense that move God to action.
Moses and Esther and David, Peter and Paul and John—all of God’s people throughout the centuries, including you and me—are simply imitating what the Son of God does for us. “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). I have a friend who likes to pray, “We cover this in the blood of Jesus.” It’s a startling image. When we take our prayers to the Father, Jesus himself intercedes for us. Jesus’s shed blood gives us perfect confidence to go before God. We know he is inclined—delighted—to listen and to answer.
Praying together, and for each other, is how Jesus taught us to pray. Sometimes I pray the Lord’s prayer on my own. The plural pronouns feel a little awkward, so I consciously replace them with the singular, “I.” But each time I do, I think about how Jesus said “Our” instead of “My.” When Jesus teaches us to pray, “Our Father,” he’s inviting us into his own relationship with the Father. That’s hard to wrap my mind around. Somehow, when I pray with other believers, we’re acting out our identities as sons and daughters of God, joint-heirs with Christ. No wonder these prayers are so powerful!
Why pray together?
If you need more encouragement, here are three reasons to pray with someone this year:
Praying with others strengthens our faith:
Sometimes I need to hear faith spoken out loud, coming from somewhere other than my own doubting heart. When I hear a friend praying for me, I hear the belief in her voice. I feel encouraged by her faith. My doubt fades a little. I’m more inclined to trust that God hears me and loves me.
Praying with others increases our hope:
When I pray with someone else, we give words to what is true about God or what we’re asking God to do. When I’ve shared these prayers with someone else, I’m more likely to notice how God responds to my prayer. I get to report on God’s work to my friend, and we both praise him. The more I pray with others, the more I expect God to fulfill his promises and act on my behalf. When we thank and entreat God together, we begin to recognize his hand in our lives and look to him expectantly.
Praying with others increases our love:
Sometimes God does not answer my prayers the way I want him to. Even then, praying with someone else reminds me of who God is. When my friend prays and thanks God for his love, his sovereignty, his faithfulness to what he promises, God’s Spirit answers with his own trademark peace. I believe I am safe and known and loved by our Father. The more of that peace I taste, the more I want it. Praying with others makes me like spending time with God. It makes me love God more. One of the amazing bonuses of praying with other people is that you start to love them more, too. This makes perfect sense when you think about why we pray together in the first place—to fulfill our role as the church, together receiving and reflecting the love of the Son and of our Father.
The next step
Think of someone in your life who might be glad to pray with you. Ask him or her to commit to a period of regular prayer. It could be once a week or once a month. You can meet in your home on a weeknight, at your church before the service, or over the phone. Keep the Psalms nearby to remind you of who God is and what he promises.
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