A Passion For Prayer
If there is such a tremendous power released when two people join in pray together, what happens when a whole assembly of God's people meet together in unity for the sole purpose of prayer?
In Acts 4:24, we read that the early Christians "lifted up their voices together with one mind to God . . . " (Amp). When they began praying like this, things began to happen (Acts 4:31; Acts 12:5-14).
The Church's mission today is the same as in the days of Acts: to change individual lives, families, communities, cities, peoples and nations through prayer. Though this study is not so much centred in an unfolding of Scripture, it is a sharing of what we believe will be helpful observations for those desiring a release in corporate prayer.
THE HOLY SPIRIT'S LEADING
The Holy Spirit desires to lead and guide the Church in prayer, and for this reason it is important that, when Christians meet together to pray, there is sufficient time given to worship and praise (Psalm 22:3; Psa 50:23; Hebrews 13:15).
The time we spend in worship is God's invitation to join Him around the throne. As we express our worship in true adoration, we acknowledge His rightful place as Lord of the universe, of our individual lives, and of the Church. It is during this time of worship that the Holy Spirit will often begin to move among His people, through the gifts He has given (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:4-8), revealing a particular burden or emphasis that He wants the Body to enter into.
God sometimes leads His people into a whole evening of prayer for a particular nation or city. This is usually not pre-planned, but is the result of a sovereign burden the Lord has given us to share with Him. On other occasions, it might be a burden for the ministers of a city or local area, the young people in the schools and universities, the political leaders, or the Body of Christ as a whole, etc. In addition to the central theme that the Holy Spirit will lead an assembly into, there is generally always time in the economy of God's programme for other individual burdens and needs to be expressed as well.
VARIETY OF EXPRESSION
The most important requirement of any prayer meeting is that every Christian be awake to the excitement of what God can do through the Body's expression of faith in prayer (Hebrews 11:6).
If many are not, then it is definitely worthwhile for the one leading the prayer meeting to encourage everybody along these lines.
After all, miracles are going to take place because of the prayer of God's people (Ephesians 3:10-12, Eph 3:20-21).
Because many Christians find themselves weary through the pressures of daily life, the Holy Spirit often directs the meeting with changes of pace and expression. It is essential that the leader be sensitive to the Spirit, and also be aware of how the Body can be encouraged to greater involvement.
United Vocal Prayer
Prayer must always be focused, with the object that is being prayed for clearly defined. Often, when a need is shared, the whole congregation can be invited to pray aloud, simultaneously, for that request. This is very beneficial, because no individual can then go away from the meeting feeling that he hasn't participated in some way.
This corporate vocal prayer – the lifting of everyone's voice to God in one accord" (Acts 4:24, KJV) and "in one mind" (Amp) - usually evolves into a time of praise and thanksgiving, and is very vital and faith-building (Jude 1:20).
Speaking the Word of Faith
Allied to this type of prayer is the opportunity where the corporate Body can begin speaking the word of faith into the situation that has been focused upon, or against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:16-18).
This is the realm which Jesus spoke of in Mark 11:20-24 when he spoke to the fig tree and it withered. In teaching His disciples about faith in operation, He said that a Christian who truly believed would have "whatsoever he saith (KJV). What a potential lies before the Church!
At other times, the Holy Spirit will open the way for individuals to pray so that others in the gathering can join them either in the main burden or in more individualised burdens. But if there is one thing that can quench the Spirit's anointing on a meeting it is when there are long-winded prayers (Matthew 6:7-8).
There is no place for people to preach-pray, because personal pride must never enter into a prayer-time (Matthew 6:5).
For this reason it is good to encourage people to pray briefly and positively – a prayer focused in faith (Matthew 21:22; James 5:15).
If the people are not used to moving spontaneously in prayer, then the leader can help by calling upon different individuals to lead the congregation along a specific subject.
Praying in Pairs or Groups
It is beneficial at times to encourage people to gather in pairs or groups around the room. This helps to focus and sharpen faith as all the groups pray at the same time. It is also helpful to have times when everyone joins hands to express unity of faith.
Singing in the Spirit
Singing as the Holy Spirit leads can also play a part in bringing direction to a prayer meeting. A song often helps to emphasise a conviction or direction that the Lord is bringing (see Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Colossians 3:16).
The Shout of Victory
We must never lose sight of the fact that prayer is entering the realms of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:11-13).
For this reason there are times when a heaviness - an attack of the enemy - can come upon a meeting. At these times it is important that the congregation stand as one man and praise the Lord aloud until the release comes in the spirit. At other times, when praying for specific needs, the Holy Spirit will reveal that the prayer is touching spiritual opposition, and one of the weapons of our warfare at times like these is the shout of praise and triumph (Psalm 47:1; 2 Corinthians 10:4).
MOODS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Depending on the mind of the Holy Spirit for a given time of prayer, the emotional mood may vary. On some occasions there may be great joy and praise associated with prayer; on another occasion there may be weeping and a sense of identification with the need. Sometimes the need requires only a short time in prayer, and at other times there may have to be an expression of determination in fasting and long hours of prayer until the breakthrough comes (Mark 9:29; Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:23).
Nothing can compare with an hour, half a night, or a full night of prayer, faith-filled Christians linking together with a mighty God for His purpose on earth (Matthew 16:19).
" . . . if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" 2 Chronicles 7:14.
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