NT Tuesday: The Importance of Corporate Prayer
In our continuing series on New Testament Principles, I’d like to take a look at the importance of prayer for the believer who wishes to be guided by New Testament principles. Specifically, I would like to consider the importance of the individual believer participating in corporate prayer.
In Acts, the church is said to have been continually devoting themselves to four functions. One of these functions is prayer. Again, I would like to point out the phrase “continually devoting themselves”. That’s a lofty characterization – does it describe our prayer life? Our assembly’s prayer life?
When we think of New Testament principles, many of us do NOT automatically think of prayer and yet, it was mentioned early on as an important activity of the church – an activity that was modeled after watching the Head of the Church, The Lord Jesus Christ, while He walked on the earth He had previously created.
Prayer is prevalent in the disciples of Jesus Christ (both pre-and post Pentecost). In Acts 1:16, the disciples are seen “in one accord… devoting themselves to prayer.” Those that were going to dedicate themselves to feeding the flock and teaching the Word, also were mindful of the importance of devoting themselves to prayer. So much so, that they chose Stephen and other men to serve at the tables so that they had more time to engage in this vital activity.
When Peter was imprisoned, the church devoted itself to making “earnest prayer” for him. Acts 12:5. Their earnest prayer was heard by a prayer-hearing God who answered their prayers and freed Peter! Peter showed up at the prayer meeting, much to their surprise. (How much better would it have been if they were standing at the front door waiting for him as a sign of faith that God would answer their prayer?!) Alas, their surprise at God’s answer to prayer seems to be a New Testament principle, as well. But it ought not to be! We pray to a prayer hearing, prayer answering, all powerful God. His power toward us!!!
When it was time to appoint elders, they did so “with prayer and fasting” (Acts 14:23). Paul also saw the necessity and the vitality of prayer. While travelling to and in Macedonia, Paul went to “the place of prayer” on the Sabbath Day.
In Paul’s epistle to Timothy, an epistle with the stated purpose of teaching Timothy how he ought to conduct himself in the household of God, Paul mentions prayer several times. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says “First of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all the people.” Note that it says “first of all.” As a means of emphasizing the importance of prayer – before he gets to anything else, Paul wants Timothy to know the importance of prayer. Paul also, in vs. 8 of that chapter, indicates that he desires that men everywhere would engage in praying!
Paul’s epistles are filled with prayers. The Lord Jesus’s life, while here on earth, was filled with prayer. Our lives – individually, but equally important – corporately – should be filled with prayer! It’s a New Testament principle!
Until next week, fulfill your ministry!
Photo credit: Chris Buggins, used with permission.