Why Christians pray together, not just in private
I vividly remember the first time someone asked me to pray out loud in a large group. I was terrified. A million thoughts and questions ran through my head.
What if I said something stupid?
What if I didn’t do it right, and God couldn’t hear me? I’m not a pastor, after all.
Isn’t prayer supposed to be a personal thing between me and God alone?
I shakily made it through the prayer reciting every churchy phrase I could remember hearing wiser, more qualified people say. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the truth about prayer: Prayer is a gift, and everyone is qualified to use it.
Prayer is a gift everyone is qualified to use.
Our relationships with God are much like the relationships we have with our friends and family members. In order for a relationship to grow, it must be cultivated through conversation and time spent together. Prayer is one of the tools God provides us to communicate with Him and cultivate our relationship with Him.
Do I Have to Pray in Public?
When Christians pray where other people can hear or see, it's public prayer. Many Christians in the Bible, including Jesus, prayed publicly. Public prayer is a powerful opportunity to communicate with God, and there are times when we may feel prompted to pray out loud or in a public space. For example to encourage a friend or to seek God’s guidance as a team.
Praying out loud, in front of other people isn’t something we need to be afraid of or shy away from. But whenever there are other people involved, there will always be the temptation to show off. Knowing this, Jesus gave us some important guidelines to keep in mind:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others…And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:5-7).
Public prayers should be authentic, real, and from the heart. Our prayers are to be God-focused, not an attempt to convince people of our righteousness. After all, even public prayers are for the primary purpose of speaking to God, not men.
Then Why Is Corporate Prayer Such a Big Deal?
When Christians pray together as a church, it is called corporate prayer. The phrase “corporate prayer” sounds official, but if you’ve been coming to NewSpring for any length of time, you’ve already participated in corporate prayer.
We pray together a lot on Sundays, and hopefully, your group prays together, too. We think this is important for a few reasons:
Corporate prayer unifies us as a body of believers.
In John 17:22-23, Jesus prays, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.” Praying together, as a group of believers, helps bring the unity that Christ prayed for.
Corporate prayer allows us to encourage and support other believers.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” By praying together for common needs, struggles, and times of celebration, we are able to encourage the other believers in our lives and motivate one another on to love and good deeds.
Corporate prayer is not more powerful than any other type of prayer.
Jesus is present whenever and however someone prays, whether that be a large group, an individual, out loud or in silence. Remember, prayer isn’t meant to bend God to our will. Prayer is how we ask for, cooperate with, and rejoice in God’s plan. The “power” in corporate prayer is in its ability to unify us around God’s will, not get things from God.
So should you pray out loud or silently? Ultimately, as Christians, we have the freedom to pray however the Holy Spirit leads us.
God wants to hear our fears, our confusion, our celebrations, and we can speak to Him simply, candidly, and honestly. God hears all prayers, whether we say them out loud or speak them in our minds. Both are biblical, and both are powerful.