1. Corporate prayer was the God-ordained pattern and priority of the early Church.
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:14)
And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer… (Acts 3:1)
they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them… now Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. And when they had prayed the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (4:24)
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)
The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. (Acts 10:9)
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church… so he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. (Acts 12:5 &12)
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on the, they sent them away. (Acts 13:2-3)
So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:23)
And on the sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. (Acts 16:13 )
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. (Acts 16:25)
Wherever we find followers of Jesus Christ in the book of Acts, we find them gathered in prayer. The apostles, and those who believed on account of their witness, understood that as they engaged in corporate prayer they were continuing in their communion with their resurrected and ascended Master. As a matter of course, the apostles and the rest of the family of God understood that when Jesus commanded them to remain together it was implied that a focused priority of their togetherness would be manifest in corporate prayer.
The chief of all the Acts of the Apostles, was corporate prayer!
They expected that His wisdom, His love, His power, His authority, His direction and consolation could be accessed by their community as they gathered together in prayer. In corporate prayer they mutually benefited from what the present Christ was distributing to the whole body. Corporate prayer was also where they encouraged each other in their engagement of Christ. They believed Jesus’ promise: “Where two or more are gathered, there am I in the midst of you.” Wherever the New Testament Church met, they seemed to take this wonderful, promise literally.
Corporate prayer was a way of establishing the norm of expecting His presence to lead and love His Church. He was not going to leave them as orphans. (John 14:8) He would come to them in a tangible way through corporate prayer. Jesus’ communing presence was the status quo expectation of the early Church wherever it was established.
2. Massive united corporate prayer is the pattern of every revival in history.
When we don’t want to pray much, we are telling God we don’t want His reign much. Unity in the priestly activity of prayer is where the Lord promises to issue abundant life.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard; the beard of Aaron. Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing: Life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1-3)
If we want our region changed by the loving reign of God, it behooves us to learn from history. Pray. Pray with others. Pray with those who are different from you. Gather others to pray together. Enter into your appointed Christ identity together as priests (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10) and intercessors. Don’t just unite. Unite in prayer and worship under the glorious reign of the Great High Priest. Focus on Him in prayer. Worship and exalt “Christ” THE anointed One for Who He is, and Who He longs to be in your region. Let the praise run over the top and down the edges of your fellowship. This is the place where the Lord commands His blessing. This is the fellowship that is good and pleasant to the Lord.
3. Jesus loves the harvest, and knows the great difficulties that are associated with gathering in the harvest. He will only release the harvest to a Church that’s asking, and crying out for it.
“Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations as Your inheritance.” (Psalm 2:8)
The truth of the matter is, nothing will help prepare people to be laborers for the harvest like deeply engaging the heart of the Lord of the harvest through intercession.
“Then Jesus said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
“When Billy Graham was asked about the most important steps in preparing a region for evangelistic success, he always answered that there were three things that mattered most: Prayer, prayer and prayer.” – Cliff Barrows
4. Prayer is the one strategy the wealthy, free, resource-rich American Church can’t buy or produce in her own strength. Only the weak pray. Only the thirsty ask. Honest prayer confronts us with our deep, pressing need for Jesus; and Jesus wants to cultivate daily dependence within His bride.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
“For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:49-53)
5. Much prayer stimulates much zeal for doing powerful Kingdom ministry. There is nothing that will inspire a soul to more thoroughly engage the lost with love and faith, like prayerfully, worshipfully, deeply engaging the heart of the Great Evangelist and Great Shepherd of the sheep Himself. Nothing.
INTERCESSION is all about aligning our world & our hearts to the order of the KING, and reveling in HIM and His order as we do.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
“Now as He drew near (to Jerusalem), Jesus saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace. But now they are hidden from you.” (Luke 19:41-42)
As we sit at the feet of the Son of God, WE’RE FILLED WITH EVANGELISTIC PASSION to compel others to know the amazing Man we’ve been gazing at in prayer. Doing ONE THING also fills us with unction to intercede that our community will receive and embrace the message and revelation of Jesus. There are no more powerful inspirations into a life of prayer and evangelism than “beholding the Lamb of God” (1 John 1:29). That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled… we bear witness and declare to you. (1 John 1:1,2)
ONE THING is where we develop a zeal for others in our family, community and region to KNOW the Man, Jesus! If I’m not pray/reading His Word; if I’m not dialoguing with Him about my heart, my family & my community; if I’m not experiencing and enjoying His presence & reveling in His unfathomable character throughout the day – I should not be surprised that I have no burning evangelistic passion to tell others about Him.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3)
6. God’s chosen eternal identity for His Church, and His people is a “household of prayer”.
“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)
“And Jesus said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer.” (Matthew 21:13)
In eternity Jesus will run His household as a house of prayer. He will forever run His Kingdom via the dynamic of intercessory prayer in partnership with His Bride.
When Jesus returns, He will be the smartest living human in all the world and will have the answer to every human issue on the planet. Even though He will possess all knowledge, He will, none-the-less, administrate His government on the earth through intercession, inquiring: “Father, what is Your will regarding this matter?”
This astounds me…
I haven’t begun to understand half of the nobility & wisdom behind the dynamic work of intercession.
7. Cultivating a life-style that prioritizes prayer and worship is how God establishes supernatural exhilaration within the human soul.
In (Isaiah 56:7) the Father promises: “I WILL make them joyful in My House of Prayer…”
When a community operates within their identity as a “household of prayer”, and routinely engages the most beautiful, powerful, and loving Being through prayer & worship, they tap into eternal joy. This joy – the kind that comes from encountering Him, is very very powerful. It’s what Paul refers to as “divine might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:14-16)
The Lord has intended that this joy be the church’s natural ethos; our norm, and the daily nourishment within our Christian communities. This is what was happening in (Acts 2:46-47), where the followers of Jesus Christ were “continuing daily with one accord IN THE TEMPLE, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with JOY and simplicity of heart, PRAISING GOD and having favor with all the people.”
The truth is,
a.) we, human beings are hard-wired for joy.
b.) In Jesus, we have an eternal supply of supernatural joy.
c.) If we don’t tap into the exhilaration that’s to be found in Him, we WILL go searching for it somewhere else.
I’ve said it for years. The House of Prayer is not in competition with the status quo church fellowship. We’re in competition with Hollywood. You will know that a bonafide move of God has come to your city when there are more cars in the parking lot of a House of Prayer on Tuesday afternoon, than there are in the parking lot of your 16 theater movie-complex on Friday evening.
Through the testimony of David the Psalmist, God says, “Come to Me in the House of Prayer and give Me your emotions, and I’ll retool them for righteousness. I want you to enjoy and thrive in your emotions.”
Yes. God’s power to exhilarate the human spirit is that real. And once you’ve tasted Him, you’ll be ruined for anything less.
In the last days, many hearts will fail because of fear (Luke 21:26). One of the ways for our heart NOT to fail is by tapping into God’s power of righteous emotions. How can our sanctified emotions strengthen our hearts to stand in the hour that’s upon us: an hour when many hearts are failing? Our emotions need no more sanctifying than our thoughts.
As we behold God and engage in the ONE THING, WE ARE FILLED WITH SUPERNATURAL JOY and EXHILARATION. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and I will make them joyful in My House of Prayer… for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. (Isaiah 56:7) One Thing fulfills the innate, human desire for the joy that the Father hard-wired us for.
When we sit at His feet we receive an exhilaration that is unlike any other joy that we can experience. Though you have not seen Him (with the naked eye) you love Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8) The truth of the matter is there is more to exhilarate the human heart in beholding His limitless beauty, than is contained in the whole of the rest of the world. The lie that our world tells us is that there is no deep joy in knowing God and living in righteousness. If we believe that lie, we will not tap into the exhilaration that’s to be found in Him, and we will go searching for it in other inferior places.
Jesus’ exhortation to the Church is not, “Sit at My feet and be joyful”. His extraordinary invitation is this, “Let Me be your joy! Find joy in Who I Am!” In His presence we discover that He, Himself is our joy! The JOY of the LORD is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) As we are united with Him, He liberally empowers us with His own eternal, inexhaustible, prevailing and superior source of joy and strength.
When we cultivate a life of doing this ONE THING we are engaging the joy and exhilaration that is to be the church’s natural – status quo atmosphere. We were created to be daily nourished by His presence. HIS PRESENCE IS OUR JOYFUL NOURISHMENT. This is what was happening in (Acts 2:46-47), where Luke records the followers of Jesus Christ were continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with joy and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.
When we engage in the ONE THING, WE ARE BEHOLDING OUR EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD. The Lord told Abraham, Abraham, I Am your exceedingly great reward. (Genesis 15:1) We find no greater reward in prayer, devotion and worship than in encountering the God of Psalm 132, Who loves to dwell with His people. We were specifically designed to be entirely fulfilled by His presence. “The goal of prayer is God!” Corey Russell
8. Prayer spares our ministry strategies and activities from the futility of limited human thought & action.
Christianity was never designed to be a self-improvement project. It’s nothing if it isn’t God’s power to raise up dead humanity. Apart from corporately recognizing what Jesus is doing in any circumstance, and then implementing His plan through prayer, all ministry ventures are mere acts of self-empowered humanitarianism. Prayer is where we hear His way, come into agreement, engage His power, submit to His Spirit, and learn to trust, “not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6)
9. There is a complete absence of scriptural support for prayerless ministry, or prayerless fellowship in Christ.
Regardless of culture, language, generation or denomination, wherever you find the love and grace of God thriving within a community you will also find the Church engaging in much corporate prayer.
In the 1860’s, 70’s & 80’s, when people would visit the Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, the great evangelistic preacher C.H. Spurgeon would take them to a basement prayer room where people were always on their knees interceding for the church. There Spurgeon would declare, “Here’s the secret power of this church and the source for all my preaching.”
“You (have) also, helped together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.” (2 Corinthians 1:11)
If I want my Church, and my walk w Christ to be faithful to the New Testament Church and the Word of God, it’s not an option for me to engage in much corporate prayer.
10. When we dialogue with God, and with each other in prayer, the Word actually becomes flesh in our lives.
“When.. the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)
We grow in the Lord, not only by taking in intellectual information about Jesus. We grow in Him as we give ourselves to the Holy Spirit declaring truth about Him into our souls.
The same God Who spoke the universe into existence, speaks into our hearts: “Bara!” “Let there be…” Where there was no love; now there’s the love of Christ. Where there was no humility; now there is the humility of Christ. Where there was no vision; now there is supernatural insight; Where there was no power; now there is eternal capacity and authority in Christ. etc.
The apostle Paul writes about this dynamic in his letter to the Church in Ephesus: “Speak the truth in love, one to another, and in this way, (we will) grow up in all aspects into Him Who is the Head; Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Corporate prayer is listening to the Holy Spirit, in ourselves and in each other, in the context of love and speaking His Words of truth back to God. When we give ourselves to corporate prayer, we are placing ourselves, and those we’re praying for, in God’s nuclear reactor of spoken truth.
This is one of the most vitalizing dynamics about corporate prayer.
11. Prayer sets us free from obsessive ministry, that is driven by man-pleasing and performance-driven demands.
Praying together cultivates the communal norm that asserts that we primarily serve a good and loving Father Who knows and cares for the needs of His daughters and sons. Prayer can liberate church ministry paradigms from anxious codependency, and empower them into God-orchestrated, faith-producing communities that prioritize first- commandment love and fidelity to Jesus Christ. There’s a difference… One operates out of a vigilant, communicative, peace and joy. The other operates out of a vigilant anxiety that suspects that it’s never doing enough.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice… Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4, 6-7)
12. Prayer beautifies us.
As we express our hearts before the King of the universe, and we behold His beauty, our hearts and emotions are changed. Our anxiety is brought to peace. Our judgments are shifted by His tender mercy and His supreme and sovereign capability. Our calculations are brought to humility and trust before the sweep of His power and plans. In short, as our hearts submit to Who He is, they are conformed to His image, and become beautiful.
Our beautification entails a three-fold process:
1.) We behold Him. If we want increased love for God, we behold the love He has for us. If we want increased power re: the things of God, we behold how He displays power on behalf of us. As we behold Him in prayer, we are changed by the revelations of Jesus that the Holy Spirit declares to us.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
2.) We believe/bend/bow to Him and His power at work within us. As we behold the revelations of Jesus, we believe and bow to Who He is. We bring our (slow-to-believe) hearts into agreement with Who He is. We yield ourselves to Him, declaring, “Your way (not mine) is true. Your way is wisdom. Your way is strength. Your way is life.” We must exercise and train our faith to accept and appropriate the specific qualities of Who Jesus is. This always involves us taking up our cross: crucifying our own thoughts, wants, ways and values so that His ways can be manifest within us. (Galatians 2:20 & John 3:30)
3.) We become like Him. As we surrender ourselves and believe the revelations of Who Jesus is, the Holy Spirit (Who loves us, and Whose job it is to prepare us to be the Bride of Christ) declares these very qualities into us (John 16:13-15) and we are transformed into the image of our Bridegroom.
Our beautification is a dynamic process that can only happen as we dialogue with the Living and Speaking God.
“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” (Song of Songs 2:14)
13. In corporate prayer the Holy Spirit shows us that what is ultimately on the Father’s heart for all of human history, is the preparation of a worshipful, like-minded Bride who administrates and reigns, alongside of, and under the authority of His Son; our radiant Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
Prayer trains us to function in agreement with the manner in which Jesus governs His own Kingdom – through the agency of the Father’s will. A million years from now, Jesus will still be administering His Kingdom as an intercessor, through worshipfully appealing to the will of the Father.
“..He always lives to make intercession…” (Hebrews 7:25)
Today, as we engage in corporate prayer, we’re learning the family way.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplications in the Spirit, being watchful to this end…” (Ephesians 6:18)
14. Corporate prayer is where we discover and cultivate our Spirit-empowered voice.
As we sit together before His beautiful presence, the Holy Spirit brings our individualities together into a shared voice of worshipful agreement. It’s in this context that He teaches us the joy and the power of declaring “Amen” together.
This united voice is a miracle. And it’s powerful on four different levels:
a.) It brings pleasure to heaven to hear the sound of the earthly Bride speaking together in unity.
b.) Our united voice is one very significant sign of the Bride’s maturity. It’s a sign that heaven responds to, with power.
c.) It is wonderfully enjoyable to our own selves, on earth. We were hard-wired to enjoy harmony and like-minded praise. Our united voices give power to our love for one another.
d.) Our united voice is a supremely powerful witness, to a divided and alienated world.
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:30)
Truth-Be-Told, it’s near impossible for a Spirit-filled Christian NOT to prophesy if they give themselves to the ministry of intercession.
Corporate prayer is where the Lord cultivates prophetic vision and prophetic voices.
In this hour, the Lord is cultivating and bringing forth a prophetic people; not just prophetic personalities. He is raising up whole communities to speak with united conviction regarding the beauty of His holiness, and His zeal to manifest His abiding presence on earth.
“Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place; You and the ark of Your strength.” (Psalm 132:8)
In this hour of massive internet communication, hype, fake-news, spin, deception is rife, and there is SUCH a need for the piercing clarity of God’s Word, spoken from hearts that are filled with joy in His worthiness to reign, boldness about His majesty, and saturated with confidence in His redemptive love. The pathway into being this kind of prophetic people, is laden with much much corporate prayer.
As we engage in the prayerful dialogue, the Holy Spirit empowers us to see what He sees, and speak what He is speaking to the Church, in order to invite His presence, and bring the Bride forth in vibrant Christlikeness.
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks… in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you… Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1, 2, 3, 24, 25 & 39)
15. Prayer in it’s essence is dialogue. Prayer is us telling God what His Word has first told us about Himself and His interaction with us, and our world. God speaks. We listen. We respond to Him. This is prayer. When we engage in corporate prayer, we also get the benefit of others’ conversations with God. He speaks to them, and we add our “yes” and together, we become united with the expressed will and character of God.
This is a terrifically intimate experience. In fact, dialogue is where and how we cultivate intimacy and first- commandment love for Jesus. By conversing with Him we actually enter into intentional, conscious communion with Jesus. And this is what He deeply wants.
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am… that the love with which You loved Me may be in the, and I in them.” (John 17:24, 26)
The word “dialogue” is the combination of two words: “dia” = “through”, and “logos” = “the word”. Apart from the Word of God, we cannot know God. It’s only THROUGH the WORD (dia-logos) that we know anything about Him. This WORD comes to us in three ways:
1. The WORD comes to us in written form; through the Bible.
2. The WORD comes to us through the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Word, made flesh.
3. The WORD comes to us through the speaking of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore we can say that dialogue is the means by which we encounter, discover, know, and become increasingly intimate with God. This is the dynamic that YHWH invited Moses into, and the reality that transfixed Joshua in the tent of meeting.
“Moses took his tent and picked it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting… and when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend… but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle… Moses said to the Lord, show me now You way, that I may know You and find grace in Your sight… So the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name. And Moses said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:7, 9, 11 & 13 & 17)
Dialogue is the wonderful, gloriously exhilarating, endlessly fascinating, personal invitation of corporate prayer.
16. Corporate prayer stimulates shared corporate faith in God. As we engage corporate prayer, we are sharing scriptures, passions, insights, promises, prophetic words, and revelations of God with our sisters and brothers. As we do, we are mutually magnifying God to each other, encouraging each other, and “building ourselves up in the most holy faith.” (Jude 1:20)
Nothing more thoroughly confronts us with what we really believe about God than engaging in corporate prayer.
“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5,6)
17. Corporate prayer puts God in the center of community’s priorities and values, in a way that nothing else can, or does.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him; to all who call upon Him in truth. (Psalm 145:8)
A congregation that prioritizes corporate prayer is boldly declaring: It’s not about us. It’s not about our power. It’s not about our glory. “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory.” (Psalm 115:1)
It’s not about us pleasing ourselves. He’s worthy of our attention and devotion. He’s worthy of our adoration. He’s trustworthy. We’re a family under the reign of a mighty, and loving Father. He is the living breathing focal point of our community!
“For in God we live and move and have our being… For we are also His offspring.” (Acts 17:28)
He knows us, and we know Him. He is intimately acquainted with our needs and the needs of our commission.
18. Corporate prayer manifests God’s vigilant eyes and ears and heart within a community of believers.
The apostle Paul exhorts the Church at Colossae:
“Continue earnestly (προσκαρτερεῖτε • steadfast, attentive, persevere, constant & courageous) in prayer, being vigilant (γρηγοροῦντες • watchful, strict attention, cautious, lest destructive calamity overtake us) in it with thanksgiving…” (Colossians 4:2)
By prioritizing corporate prayer we are “manning” our assigned posts, on the walls of intercession. From these posts the whole body is strengthened by four realities that are essential for any community to thrive in His Kingdom.
1.) Corporate prayer creates daily access-ports where we behold the REVELATION of God that is meant to nourish the community.
2.) Corporate prayer connects hearts to daily navigational readings that provide DIRECTION for the community.
3.) As we submit to the Lord in corporate prayer, He strategies of PROTECTION as well as timely responses to the works of the enemy.
4.) Corporate prayer and fasting is nearly always the Lord’s strategic, corrective Word for a community facing CRISIS. As a fellowship cultivates vibrant corporate prayer now, they ensure that in the hour of great crisis they will not have to suddenly and desperately engage in a reality that’s abnormal to their lifestyle.
19. Corporate prayer forges, builds and establishes unity between individual believers.
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit… Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul.” (Acts 4:31, 32)
“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” (1 Timothy 2:8)
Jesus Himself prayed for the unity of believers throughout the ages: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us.” (John 17:20-21)
In corporate prayer, “WE are seated with Him TOGETHER in heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:16). As we gaze on the Godhead in worshipful prayer, we are brought into unity by what and Who we are beholding. The Holy Spirit actually engenders the unity of the Godhead within us as we corporately engage and dialogue with the God Who lives in unity.
Practically speaking, our “amen” to the prayers of our brothers and sisters cause us to grow tender toward each other. We actually find ourselves lovingly wanting the good that our brothers and sisters are asking for. As we love each other, and mutually carry and affirm each others’ petitions, heaven responds with joy releasing power into our God- like unity.
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that ehy ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)
20. Jesus sat at the feet of the Father, and listened for His voice in prayer.
This was the priority of Jesus’ lifestyle. As we give ourselves to the same, WE ARE FOLLOWING JESUS’ OWN EXAMPLE, and we give ourselves to the dynamic that will cause us to become more and more like Jesus Christ. Here we learn much more than what would Jesus do. We behold Him, Himself: His ways, His thoughts, His values, His inclinations, His emotions and the feel and the fabric of His extraordinary character.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)
21. Corporate prayer establishes the dynamic, unified, reigning presence of Jesus Christ on the earth.
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:18-20)
The greek word for righteousness is ”dikaiosune” or “the right order of the King”. When we pray, we’re ushering the right order of King Jesus to be manifest on earth. The perfect bringing the imperfect into alignment with Himself. The state of perpetual, unified blessing, impacting the state of the discordant, and incessant curse. This is God’s ultimate will.
“You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we do not yet see all things put under Him.” (Hebrews 2:8)
“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.” (Ephesians 1:22) (See also 1 Corinthians 15:27)
Prayer is about redeemed humanity collectively being worshipfully aligned with Jesus and the Father, and the Spirit, and all heaven. When we pray, we posture our spirit so that it lovingly submits to the order and atmosphere surrounding Jesus. Prayer accomplishes this marvelous corporate alignment like no other dynamic we engage in the Christian life.
As we pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10) we are engaging in the miracle of agreement that declares: “You are the rightful Ruler of the earth! We love Your leadership, and submit our will to Yours.” This is the legislative power of united, corporate prayer.
What’s more, this dynamic is not only the means by which a perfect heaven sets things right on a corrupt earth, united worshipful intercession is also God’s eternal strategy by which Jesus will administrate His Kingdom in the next age. Jesus and His Bride worshipfully asking the Father, and the Father worshipfully releasing His will and order upon earth under the mutual administration of His Son and redeemed humanity.
It is eternal wisdom to cultivate RIGHTEOUSNESS in prayer in this hour! Not only do we discover new dimensions of righteousness – “what the Lord loves” in the House of Prayer, but we also submit to the discipline of having the Father’s “righteous countenance” “behold” us so that He may refine us in righteousness.
As we gaze on the beauty of Who Jesus is WE ARE FILLED WITH A ZEALOUS DESIRE FOR A MAN LIKE HIM TO REIGN in our circumstances: This burning desire becomes the cry: “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) Consequently, doing the ONE THING actually matures our prayers so that our hearts move from a fix-it mentality to a we long to see Jesus reign mentality.
In doing the ONE THING, WE SURRENDER our own ability to accomplish tasks, resolve distractions, and solve troubles TO THE SUPERIOR LEADERSHIP OF JESUS. As we engage Him and see Him for Who He really is, the Holy Spirit cultivates humility, weakness, meekness and trust in our lives. Prayer then becomes what weak and needy people engage in before a perfectly powerful, gracious, loving and willing Lord. Praying, worshipping and beholding Jesus actually constrains self-reliant men and women to interact with God, until we joyfully yield our anxious hearts to His omnipotent reign. My strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
22. Corporate prayer is one of the chief ways God establishes (Ephesians 4:15) maturity in the Bride.
“But speaking (dialoguing) the truth in love, one to another, we grow up in all aspects into Him, Who is the Head – even Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 4:15)
At the heart of corporate prayer is dialogue. We engage the speaking God Who declares revelations of His heart to us through His Word, and the Holy Spirit. As His Word impacts our heart we’re filled with His divine power. His Word gives us insight, knowledge of Him, and His vision for grace and love. His Word unveils holiness and justice. It imparts strength to stand; to love; to intervene and to know how to intercede.
In prayer, God not only speaks truth about circumstances, He invites us to speak the truth about what’s going on in our own heart, speaking truth about revelation, speaking truth from God’s Word back into the heart of the Father. As we engage God in this mighty dynamic, our hearts and human conditions in our world are transformed. By the decree of His mouth, we are conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus, and our world is brought into the righteous order of the King. Divine dialogue is the omni-lever of prayer.
Because all corporate prayer is dialogue, corporate prayer is also an essential dynamic to making disciples. Christians that neglect to pray together with other believers do not, indeed cannot grow into mature disciples. Do you want to mature in Christ-likeness? Do you want to increase in your capacity to love with joy, and release power to redeem? Engage God in corporate prayer! Prayer-fueled dialogue that “speaks the truth in love” is how we “grow up in all aspects into Him.”
23. The church is charged to pray without ceasing.
“Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men ought to always pray, and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)
Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18) (See also, Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42; Romans 12:12)
The exhortations to pray apply to when Christians are gathered together as well as when we are by ourselves. Our fellowship is to be laden with fervent intercession and the praise-filled presence of the Lord; not merely perfunctory prayers at the beginning of a function. The Holy Spirit yearns to engender Jesus’ manifest presence in all of our activities. And Jesus longs to be intimately connected to us, dialogued with, honored, active, worshipped & loved in all that we do together. Prayer is His tangible, real-time access-point to our fellowship.
24. Corporate prayer is one significant way spiritual communities humble themselves and intentionally yield their perpetually rebellious, autonomous, self-governing souls to God.
“Do not set your mind on high things… do not be wise in your own opinion… rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, continue steadfastly in prayer.” (Romans 12:16 & 12)
Praying with other believers guards us from glorifying ourselves, restraining us with humility, so that God alone is magnified over our individual lives, our fellowship, and ministry ventures.
“Because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts…” (Romans 1:21)
The humble pray. And God generously gives Kingdom-expanding grace to those who humble themselves and pursue Him in their need.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5)
25. Corporate prayer is a chief way believers accumulate the Holy Spirit’s timely wisdom with urgency.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:16-17)
In (James 1:5) we are exhorted to pursue God-given wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
An overlooked reality regarding accumulating this wisdom is that we have to ask God for it. In other words, James is telling us that in our pursuit of Divine wisdom, we are to engage God in prayer. Prayer brings at least six factors together that are vital to us acquiring Godly wisdom and perspective. Corporate prayer combines:
• our facts regarding a condition or event;
• our emotions, and expressed desire for that condition;
• God’s Word re: the promise, nature, and context of that condition;
• our dialogue (with each other and the Holy Spirit) regarding God’s Word and that condition;
• Holy Spirit revelation of God and His heart for the condition;
• humility re: our need to acquire and submit to God’s solution for the condition.
Corporate prayer is the dynamic context where all these elements come together in a beneficial way.
26. Corporate prayer releases the great grace of God within a community.
“And when they had prayed the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul… and with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. AND GREAT GRACE WAS UPON THEM ALL.” (Acts 4:29-31 & 33)
God’s grace falls upon a community on several different levels:
Through corporate prayer
A. we receive great grace to encounter God…
B. we receive great grace to extend God’s love to others…
C. we receive great grace to see/feel/partner with each other through the eyes of God’s love.
As we engage God in prayer together, kindness and tenderness is engendered in one another. As we watch our sisters and brothers dialoguing with God, we see and hear the Father’s love and heart for them as individuals. The dynamic of corporate prayer, by itself, actually generates corporate unity and love.
Because the act of prayer is an act of humility, it is also God’s magnificent conduit for the dynamic flow of grace.
“All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6)
27. Corporate prayer & worship is a vital way the Holy Spirit clothes us with the transformational glory of Jesus.
Being conformed into the glorious character of Christ is not primarily a privatized matter. When a whole community is intentionally and mutually engaging, exalting, humbling themselves before, receiving from, interacting with, operating under the power of and adoring the living, present, Jesus – hearts burn; glory comes; heavens are opened; thinking is renewed; Godliness is elevated; grace flows; forgiveness is administered; eyes are illuminated; ears are filled with the testimonies of God; believers are edified; sinners are convicted; the sick are healed; the way of man bends to the order of Christ; destinies are set straight; fools are made wise; the hopeless are empowered with truth, and those crippled by shame are strengthened with righteous dignity. Every single Christian benefits from the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit in fellow believers who will worship, dialogue, encourage, counsel and pray them into mature Christlikeness.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)
As we corporately engage the Lord, we not only encounter His tangible, living presence, we are surrounded by sisters and brothers through whom we see His image, feel His heart, and hear His life-giving voice.
But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The corporate praying and worshipping environment is a nuclear incubator of Christlike power.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
See also (Revelation 15:8) (2 Chronicles 5:14 & 7:2) (Zechariah 6:13)
As we focus ourselves on receiving revelations about Jesus WE ARE TRANSFORMED INTO HIS LIKENESS. We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18) The more we dialogue with another person, the more we begin to take on the qualities of that person. As we gaze upon Jesus, and listen to His voice, our hearts, spirits, minds and even our physical countenance become conformed to His beautiful image.
As we sit at Jesus’ feet THE HOLY SPIRIT (our Teacher) SPEAKS THE very QUALITIES OF JESUS INTO OUR PERSON. When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears he will speak and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13 & 15)
This is one of the most exciting dynamics in all of the Kingdom. It is closely related to the previous benefit. What happens to to a mortal heart when the eternal Lord of all creation, Who looked into nothing and spoke the universe into existence, looks into our barren soul and declares “Christ”!? This is how we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. This is the power of God’s spoken Word into our lives.
People who cultivate a desire to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of (their) life (Psalm 27:4) – INQUIRE IN HIS TEMPLE. They ask the type of questions of the Lord that produce within them a deep wisdom and personal strength. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5) O how deep is the well of our Lord’s wisdom! And He loves to draw from it for all those who sit, ask and listen.
28. Corporate prayer is how and where communities intentionally give themselves to “let(ting) the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)
Colossians 3:16 is an encouragement to develop a communal norm of corporate dialogue. As we meditate, sing and pray-read the Word of God in His worshipful presence, He illuminates our minds with heart-convincing revelation, insight and wisdom that empowers the Church to abide, and revel in Jesus and His Kingdom.
This is how the Holy Spirit actually becomes the Teacher among us:
“The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that any one teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27)
“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:20)
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
I’m going to brag about my International House of Prayer family here. In my forty years of following Jesus, through seminary, missions, and evangelical church life, I’ve not encountered a collection of believers who manifest more focused love for Jesus; more confident zeal for His Kingdom; or more practical investment in engaging the world with His love and power. They’re also filled with a passionate commitment to corporately let the Word of God richly dwell within them. It’s amazing what God will do in us when we bring our weak hearts and our open Bibles into His atmosphere of worshipful prayer. When we establish corporate space where the people of God can engage the living, breathing and active Word of God our hearts and minds will be filled with the glory of God.
29. The Lord shakes communities and opens prison doors through corporate prayer.
Corporate prayer is where the Lord accomplishes His miracle of agreement among human hearts. And it’s through the agency of human agreement in prayer that God affects mighty miracles. When humanity comes into agreement and agrees with heaven, heaven reigns on earth. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) God has reserved the mightiest of all power for those who engage in unified prayed and worship.
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul… (Acts 4:29-32)
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. (Acts 16:25-26)
I love this story, because in one extraordinary moment, the Lord honors the combined prayers of Silas and Paul, shakes the earth, opens doors, releases the chained, manifests a witness to the prisoners, saves a jailer and his whole family, and provides an iconic picture of the power of corporate prayer to inspire His Church for the next two millennia! Who else but our God?
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:2-3)
See also (Acts 12:5)
30. Corporate fasting & prayer is God’s prescription for people facing cultural crisis.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples,‘Where is their God?’ ” (Joel 2:15-17)
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
When crisis and loss touch our society, our world echoes this wisdom by engaging in shallow moments of silence. How much better that we collectively appeal to the eternal God in our moments of dire need? How much better that the people of God cultivate a wholehearted spirit that brings us to circumspection and repentance before God?
The humble, corporate, honest, intimate prayer/life is the pre-eminent, deep-rooted solution to the impossible conundrum that we find engulfing our nation, our churches, our communities and our families. But how much better is it that we would cultivate this wholehearted prayer-culture now, before we have to reach for God in a moment of urgent desperation?
Throughout scripture, united, focused, prayer and fasting is the sign to heaven that people want God’s wholehearted solution to the curse of sin in our world. And it’s the only sufficient ground from which we may attempt to do any ongoing social/political good to rectify our circumstances.
“Even now, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12)
Can we do more than this after we pray? Yes. But we can do no more than this until we pray – together.
31. The Word exhorts us to corporate prayer, all the more, as we see the day of the Lord approaching.
“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
There’s no mistaking the Bible’s urgent call to amplify the place of corporate prayer the closer we near the time of the Lord’s return. The Church will need the maturity and strength that comes from much prayer to fruitfully navigate all the spiritual and emotional snares of this age.
“I believe Jesus will entrust last days’ leadership to men and women who refused to quit and pressed through into the storehouse of heaven.” Corey Russell
The Biblical remedy for these snares is staying close to the Lord, and each other in a spirit of perpetual, worshipful prayer. Vibrancy won’t come from having a theological rhetoric of prayer. Nor will it be cultivated by merely cherishing prayer, or having a regular prayer meeting.
It is the community that has cultivated a shared value for robust corporate prayer, and who actually prays, who will know the nimble Word of the Lord; who will grow into Christlikeness; who will guard that which is precious in our faith (Matthew 26:41); who will mutually care for each other’s needs; who will see miracles; who will revel in the beauty of the Lord; who will not merely maintain ground, but also take ground, and win souls for the King in the darkest of all hours.
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” (1 Peter 4:7)
This is is the glory of corporate prayer.
What have we missed? What would you add to this list?
At the end of 2020, we have begun to hear the Lord re-setting the paradigm for the American Church. Read more about this prophetic paradigm shift here.
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God bless you, beloved.
All Nations House of Prayer Southwest
1. Corporate prayer was the God-ordained pattern and priority of the early Church.