Here are five reasons from the Bible why it’s so crucial to meet together as Christian believers to pray:
1. Because Jesus has commanded us to do so
When Jesus taught us to pray, he began ‘Our Father’ (Matthew 6:9). Whilst personal prayer is vital in the Christian life, there is also an expectation that we will meet together to pray.
2. Because it was a hallmark of the early church
When you read through the history of the first followers of Jesus in the book of Acts, it’s striking how much time they spend praying together: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42). We wonder why these were days of great power and advancement of the good news of Jesus. At least one reason is that they were days of urgent, collective prayer.
3. Because we are God’s children, and he is our Father
A church family is united together by Jesus as the family of God. We have been brought into the same spiritual family with the same heavenly Father. Paul writes, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
Prayer is the natural response of those who know God as their father, and coming together to pray is the natural response of brothers of sisters who share the same heavenly Father.
4. Because God answers prayers
Jesus puts it very straightforwardly: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) If we don’t ask for anything, there is no reason to suppose we will get anything.
5. Because our calling as a church is humanly impossible
If all we think of church is ‘a nice club I go along to on a Sunday’, prayer is unnecessary. After all, what’s there to pray about? But our calling from God is so much higher. It is to be his salt and light (Matthew 5), his ambassadors among our friends and community (2 Cor. 5), a distinctive holy family, passionately devoted to him (1 Peter 2), and the means by which his gospel of hope rings out across the whole world (Matthew 28). Empowered by his Spirit, we are God’s strategy for the coming of his Kingdom in our town and beyond.
And we simply cannot do that in our own strength. Like the early apostles who felt their great weakness, the urgency of the task, and the opposition mounting against them, we need to cry out to God together “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29-30)
When the apostles prayed, God acted: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31). God hasn’t changed. Let’s pray that our commitment to calling out to him hasn’t changed either.