Chapter 9: Praying alongside Others

In Chapter 9 we consider the vital importance of praying alongside others. Seven reasons are given as to why private intercession must be accompanied by corporate prayer: praying together is the example of scripture; it increases our faith; God responds favourably to prayers offered in unity; praying with others enriches our understanding; it helps us to better discern God’s will; it galvansises the church to action; and finally, praying with others means that we will actually pray.

Sermon accompanying chapter 9

Preached by Chris Band at Headington Baptist Church, Oxford on 28th February 2010
Download the study guide.

Questions

  1. Invite the group to discuss how important they feel it is to be praying with others. Do they regard this to be of equal importance to private prayer or is it seen as a bit of an ‘optional extra’?
  2. Using a large sheet of paper, ask the group to list in four columns the advantages and disadvantages both of praying alone and praying with others. In what ways do the two approaches complement each other or off-set each other’s limitations?
7 statements about the importance & effectiveness of praying together will now be examined
  1. Praying together is the example of Scripture: Giving examples, does Jesus commend private prayer, praying with others or both in his own practice and teaching (if helpful see Matthew 6:6, Mark 1:35, Luke 9:28, Luke 11:2-4)? In what ways do the life of Israel in the Old Testament and the practice of the Early Church in the New Testament demonstrate the importance of praying together? Useful references include Esther 4:16, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Acts 1:14, 2:42.
  2. Praying together increases our faith: Given that faith is vital for effective prayer, do the group feel that praying with others has sometimes increased their faith and expectation?
  3. Praying together expresses our unity, which in turn delights God: Read Psalm 133:1-3. What is the consequence here of living in unity with each other? Does disunity among us hinder our prayers (you might want to re-visit Chapter 7, pp.133-135)?
  4. Praying together enriches our understanding and practice of prayer: Read the illustration about praying for the young woman [pp.168-169]. Do the group members feel enriched or undermined by the different perspectives and theological understandings of those that they pray with?
  5. Praying together helps us to discern God’s will: Given the centrality of God’s will for prayer (see 1 John 5:14-15), how might praying with others aid us in better discerning it [see p.170]?
  6. Praying together draws more of us into becoming the answer to our prayers: To what extent might praying together galavanise the whole church to action?
  7. Praying together encourages us to actually pray: In what ways is prayer made ‘easier’ when we pray with others (e.g. breadth of focus, concentration, regularity, discipline)?
  8. Re-cap the reasons why praying together is important. Ask the group to reflect on whether they are making adequate space in their lives for small group and whole-church prayer. What practical steps might they take to increase these essential dimensions of prayer?