No one prays enough! That’s not just a perception, it’s a reality. Even the most avid prayer warriors I know admit to such. When we pray, it shows our dependence on God. But the fact of the matter is our prayer habits expose where our dependence really lies. We rely on self, money, our own abilities to figure things out and get things done. It is this self-reliant attitude that hinders us from praying.

This is not only true of our individual lives; it is true of our corporate lives as well. We get bogged down in church/ministry activities and give little time or attention to prayer. We buy into Satan’s lie that the success of the church rests and depends on our abilities. Could it be that our individual prayer lives are a reflection of the emphasis of our corporate prayer lives? Could it be the reason prayer isn’t a priority in our personal lives is because it has not been cultivated in the corporate life of the church?

My desire in this post is to encourage churches to recapture, cultivate, and even persevere in the area of corporate prayer.

The book of Acts contains several examples of the saints gathering together for prayer. We see it in the opening chapter as the 120 are gathered in the upper room awaiting the gift of Holy Spirit. It says in verse 14: All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…. Then in Chapter 2, as the early church is meeting together daily, they are not only committing themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and the breaking of bread, but they are devoting themselves to prayer. As the early church is being formed and fashioned, God is uniting them and strengthening them through the practice of corporate prayer. This commitment to corporate intercession continues as the church grows (see Acts 4, 12, and 13).

If the early church was committed to cultivating a habit of corporate prayer, then it makes perfect sense that we should as well. Here are some suggestions that may help you cultivate corporate prayer in your local congregations.

Devote yourself to it: Like the early church, make it a priority when you gather together. Devote yourselves to going before The Lord to make your petitions known (Phil. 4:6). Early on in the planting of East Point Church, someone made the observation that we were not praying enough. He was right. So we committed to praying for and with one another. After our time in the Word, we would take prayer requests and praise reports, spending an extended time before the Lord in prayer. I can say without a doubt God used that time to really mold us together as a community. As we prayed, it was clear the Gospel was moving from our heads to our hearts, and God was using prayer to accomplish it.

Start Praying: I know it sounds like a given, but I can’t tell you how many prayer meetings I have attended where most of the time is spent taking prayer requests or studying a passage of scripture, and there is little time left to actually pray. Opening the Word and noting prayer requests are extremely important, but so is prayer. Give time to it. Don’t see it as an afterthought or add on after you have finished with your agenda. Dedicating extended portions of time to corporate prayer communicates your dependence on God, and creates a culture where prayer is emphasized.

Pray Together: Pastors and elders, you should pray with the congregation as well. Sermon prep, counseling, teaching—the work of the ministry—can easily pull you away from corporate prayer. I want to encourage you to resist the temptation to skip it. In Acts chapter 2, as the early church is together praying, the apostles were among them. If the apostles were not too busy to pray with the body, then neither are today’s pastors. Your attendance and participation will be an encouragement to those you serve. I can also guarantee that your soul will be edified too. I have lost count of the number of times I have been tired or discouraged at the start of a prayer time together with the saints, only to leave that time with my soul once again set on fire for Christ and his people.

Cultivate a Culture of Grace: You might be surprised at how living out the Gospel in community directly affects the quality of your corporate prayer time. It is easy to hide behind clichés and general prayers, masking our sin and helplessness.  We fail to deal with the sin in our heart for fear of condemnation or gossip. Cultivating a culture of grace frees people to pray without apprehension because they know they are around brothers and sister who will lovingly point them to Christ. They have committed themselves to those who will bear with them (Rom. 15:1), searching their own hearts for the presence of sin. This makes the time of corporate prayer rich and comforting, as sin is confessed and prayed for.

Pray “Big God” Prayers: Too often we seem to think we are going to overwhelm God with our requests. We decide what is suitable to bring to him. But that is far from the truth. As Tony Carter likes to say, “God can chew bubble gum and jump rope at the same time.” Ask God for big things, corporately! In fact, He asks us to do just that (John 15:7). I remember sitting in a corporate time of prayer soon after the earthquake that devastated Haiti. We were praying for the victims and that relief would be provided for those affected, when it dawned on me that God was just as present in Haiti as he was with us. He could handle what seemed to be our minuscule requests compared to the needs of Haiti—all at the same time. God is omnipresent and cares for all of his Children. We won’t catch him off guard with our requests. He knows before we pray (Matt 6:8). Ask for big things like church planters and missionaries. Pray that God would save your city or provide for a big ministry need. We need to pray “big God” prayers, together.

Pray with Eternity in Mind: Most corporate prayer gatherings without this focus will quickly be reduced to our everyday “this world” concerns like requests for jobs and healing for the various ailments that plague us or our family members. I want to in no way discourage us from praying about these things. God wants us to bring our everyday concerns and cares to him (Ps. 55:22). But let’s not forget to think about eternity. Include in your corporate prayers the request that God would make you and your brothers and sisters holy (Phil 1:10). That he would unite you in and around the Gospel (Eph 4). That he would help you see your suffering as light and momentary in the light of eternity (2 Cor. 4:17). That love and good works would mark out your local fellowship, so that others may see them and glorify God (Matt. 5:16). Pray corporate prayers that give people a bigger vision of God, and help give them the heavenly perspective that we all need.

Share Testimonies: God answers prayers! He does. We just don’t believe it. God often uses answered prayer to overcome our unbelief. So encourage the saints to share testimonies about answered prayers. Hearing how God has worked in the lives of your brothers and sisters bolsters the faith of the entire congregation. In fact, those answered prayers spur us on to pray more.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I am sure there are other thoughts that you have as it relates to cultivating corporate prayer. Step up on the porch and share them in the comment section. We all need to be encouraged to pray more.

Enough talking about it, let’s get to praying.

The Front Porch
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7 Comments

  • Avatar Vince says:

    Great article! We should and MUST pray to our true father – Abba! I am in the furnace and I am praying almost every breath! HE want us to share our ‘all in all’ with HIM – nothing will surprise HIM. Spill the beans!

  • Avatar MsGee Carvin says:

    I concur, this is a great article, as I am reminded that corporate prayer is essential even to our relationship to the government (i.e. people in high positions) in which we live (I Timothy 2:1-4). When we corporately pray for “those in high positions” it makes for a peaceful life the Christian to share the gospel. Perhaps our lack of praying for the government is the reason we are being persecuted on issues as abortion and same-sex marriage.

  • Avatar george canady says:

    Thanks for encouraging this as I have struggle in this area sometimes, not as one who can’t or doesn’t like to, but as someone who is like the one who prays to be heard. I want to pray and beat my chest as one not worthy; but… and then pride, and then critical of others prayers and then… Please pray for me as I listen and learn grace.

  • Avatar Larry Miles says:

    Totally agree. Corporate prayer is of necessity in the local assembly. The heart yearns for such simplicity in the “gathering” praying together. You just gave me an idea, to prayer more pointedly, desperately and protectively at the end of the Word, as I too have recently planted a church in the Baltimore area. Bless you bro. Philip.

  • Avatar Deryk Hayes says:

    This is such a dope post bro. Even as a child I can recall attending prayer meetings that took place the 30 minutes that led up to our Bible Study on Wednesday nights. Unfortunately attendance was light in Bible Study and even less attended during the prayer meeting. Why is corporate prayer taken so lightly? Why is corporate prayer no longer a priority of the local church? Could it be that our individual lives stand still in lack of priority? My prayer is that the local church would return to the priority of corporate prayer. Thanks for this post.

  • Avatar Tracy says:

    Bless The Lord!!! I’m trying to share this article on my FB page, is that possible? In Jesus Name Amen.😊🙏

  • Avatar IsaacOnThePorch says:

    Sure!

    Just copy the address and post to your page.

    Blessings!

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