Sam from Virginia asks, “What is the importance of corporate prayer in the church?”
Corporate prayer matters in churches today as we seek to follow the example of Old and New Testament believers and follow the example of Jesus Himself.
In many instances in both the Old and New Testaments, we see a spiritual leader praying publicly before a congregation. Solomon does so during the temple dedication in 1 Kings 8 and the first century church prayed together many times, including in Acts 4:24.
When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion, he took his disciples with Him and urged them to pray with and for Him that night; yet the disciples all fell asleep.
Even the Lord’s Prayer, the model for prayer that Jesus gave us to imitate, is said in the plural. “Give us our daily bread.” “Forgive us our sins.” Do not lead us into temptation.”
As churches today follow these examples, you will see pastors pray before their congregations, churches will organize prayer meetings where needs can be expressed and prayed over, and small groups will pray together as they fellowship.
Among the many important functions these corporate prayers have:
1. Corporate prayer unites the hearts and wills of the people.
A pastor who prays before the congregation is able to speak on behalf of the entire church to God. As the church pursues unity in glorifying God, corporate prayer from the pulpit expresses the unity of the church in their desire for God’s will to be done.
2. Corporate prayer keeps believer’s aware of each other’s needs.
As members of a church bring prayer requests before their congregation or small group, other believers have the opportunity to not just pray for them, but to seek other ways they can help the person in their situation.
Oftentimes, the hearers of a prayer request soon learn that God wants to use them to meet that request.
3. Corporate prayer helps the congregation learn how to pray better.
You may be able to remember someone in your life who’s prayers are especially meaningful to you. Hearing various people in your Christian community prayer will help your personal prayer life, as you hear the various ways people approach God, praise Him, and bring their requests to Him. When you hear an especially sincere, moving prayer from a fellow believer, you can ask God to develop the same spirit in you and begin to pray in a similar, sincere manner.