Dear reader last Friday gathering was great, we only wish all of you could be with us at all times!
Phil and I shared our concerns on what corporate prayer looks like in modern church settings, whether it be brick and mortar or in the homes of believers, as opposed to the examples and exhortations to such prayer we see in scripture.
Both Phil and I have concerns about "prayer request" time, what perhaps may be a modern concept. We certainly do see that in past times, whether in the Bible or historical accounts of the lives of true believers, believers ask each other to pray for one another in particular circumstance. However, we think it might taste and smell just a bit different from its current cultural compliment.
Phil especially sees that current practices allow for prayer requests that appear to be manipulation of the individual or group rather than an honest straight forward request and that to be prayed about. Often we can be more preyed upon than prayed upon. Not that we ought not to come to a brother's aid at the mere mention of a trial but let it come as an honest request not dressed up as something else.
My concern is that some of the prayer request I have heard seem to fly in the face of scriptural truth or scriptural guidance for our lives. When it is asked that a group pray about such things there is no avenue for asking if the group really can pray for that request. Or at least I have not witnessed it practiced.
Not only are we accustomed to taking our personal prayers to God when we have not taken into consideration if they might be those asked with wrong motives, that they might be spent on our pleasures (James 4:3 (and more things than just money can be "spent")), but it would appear that in our corporate prayers we greatly avoid this important step. Where is the agreement mentioned in Mathew 18:19?
When Phil and I began to talk about this he strongly wondered what the incident would look like when some one's prayer request was scrutinized. He wondered how many would get up and storm out. Oh, I agree it could look mighty nasty especially if a group that has been being manipulated or subverted for years suddenly decides they have had enough nonsense and tries to do things differently. Scripturally.
Whether a prayer request is deemed manipulation, not in keeping with God's will or perfectly legit, doesn't the idea that we can all be in agreement mean more than maintaining our pride or assuaging our feelings? I would much rather have my pray suggestion or request scrutinized than everyone bow their heads and feign agreement. Leaving me to expect an answer, when in spiritual reality two or three have not gathered in His name and asked about anything.
Oughtn't we be learning, being edified, when we come together? Does that only apply to times of discussion or sharing of scripture or testimonies, all other things, like singing or meal time fellowship, being off limits? Couldn't we learn a great deal about God and ourselves from taking an objective look at what we think we want, what we think God would grant if we only prayed about it in a big group of believers?
Friday's group discussed all these things Phil and I brought. We all concurred in our own words that correction or guidance never seems to go down easy, especially at first, but later on "it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11) We also agree in the awesome, amazing power of prayers to God.
There were many questions and concerns along with some agreement. We most certainly did not come to any conclusions for our group on how this would look but discussion is opened and let the Holy Spirit work, either in his lighting speed or his glacial speed. The conversation about prayer won't die and this small freakish group of folks who gather on Friday nights will continue to let the Holy Spirit teach, change and mold them.
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Matthew 18:19 "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them"
Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.