How many times has someone shared something difficult with you a financial crisis, an incurable illness or some problem that is the result of sin and after saying you will pray for them you think, “but I wish there was something I could ‘really’ do to help?” We act as if making a meal, giving money, writing a note, or doing an act of service is more powerful than talking to the sovereign almighty Creator of the universe who rules and reigns over every occurrence here on Earth.
Prayer is powerful and there is something special about corporate prayer. There is a time and place for private prayer, but there is also something special when God’s people come together to pound on the doors of heaven on behalf of someone in need. I love in Exodus when God tells Moses:
Then the LORD told him, “You can be sure I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries for deliverance from their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. (Exod 3:7 NLT). He hears our cries.
How about Acts 4 when Peter and John are released from jail only after being warned to no longer speak in the name of Jesus. Have you read what they do? Luke tells us;
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, (Acts 4:23-24a NIV). First they went to their people, and those people prayed (together). Did you notice the first words they said? “Sovereign Lord.” To them it made sense to approach the one who could actually do something about the situation. In verses 24-30 they cry out to the Sovereign Lord about all that is happening and they make their requests. Then, in verse 31, we are told how God answered: After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31 NIV). It is pretty cool that the place was shaken, but what is even more amazing is that they were given a supernatural boldness after being warned (probably with their lives) to not speak in the name of Jesus. We could all use that supernatural boldness.
Later in Acts 12, we see Peter in jail again. He faces impossible circumstances as Herod has taken measures to make sure there is no way that he escapes. What do God’s people do? They pray!
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him (Acts 12:5 NIV). This situation which ironically took place during the Passover (a story of God’s deliverance) is a story of amazing deliverance of Peter and what did God’s people do? They did the only thing they could do. They prayed. They prayed together as a church. How many people in our churches could use God’s deliverance? How many men are trapped in pornography? How many women are bound by lies concerning their identity? How many families are on the unending race to accumulate more stuff? How many cancer patients sit in our congregation each week? How many people need God to deliver them from sin and wrath? Yet week in and week out we neglect to pray for them together as a church family.
This past week at Southbridge, we did something different than we usually do. At the end of the service, we asked anyone who had a prayer need to stand. We had our elders, leaders and Response Team ready to go and lay a hand on these people and pray for them. We had people dealing with sin, others who simply stood acknowledging a need without stating it specifically, one of our Response Team members even asked for prayer herself. There is power in corporate prayer. While it is GREAT to make a meal, give some money, write a note or do an act of service, there is nothing like talking to the One who is sovereign over our lives.
We desire to be a church that prays. We don’t do that every week, but every week we do have a Response Team that desires to pray for needs in our church. Starting this week they will be stationed in the hallway between our live and video venue ready for anyone who has a prayer need.
We also have a weekly team of prayer warriors who pray for requests we receive on Sunday through our connection card and throughout the week on our website request form. Do you have a prayer need or even a need to pray? If so we would love to pray with and for you.