Corporate prayer is just plain awkward and odd. Corporate prayer (in which a group of people take turns praying out loud) is intimidating! … at least that is what I grew up thinking
· My childhood experiences in corporate prayer didn’t help – my sister and I often the only kids at Wednesday night prayer meeting…a gathering dominated by one near mythic character John R. Lasher. He might as well have been Moses to me!
o When I was young I thought that corporate prayer is only for the giants of the faith
· My feelings about corporate prayer didn’t improve when I went to College (Bible School). There I got the impression that if I wanted to pray with others there was an insider language, a lingo, I needed to learn
§ like…repeating the word Father
§ or use the phrase “I just…”
§ apparently I had to grunt in agreement with someone else’s prayer
o I mistakenly believed corporate prayer was only for insiders
· Then as I entered into pastoral ministry and sought to model myself after older pastors , I noticed that they were very adept at creating corporate prayers with intricate outlines and creative imagery
o I despaired that corporate prayer is for great communicators - which I was not.
So, in the past I struggled with the awkwardness and intimidating nature of corporate prayer … but thankfully those weren’t my only lessons in it…
· I’ve had the privilege to travel the world and worship and pray with amazing followers of Jesus:
o Kenya, Pakistan, Ukraine, South Africa, Mexico ….
o I have stood in awe as hundreds of people all prayed out loud at the same time and it felt like a symphony
o I’ve held hands and prayed together with believers who were so passionate they cried out with tears pouring down their face
o I’ve experienced a room of thousands in Monterrey Mexico praying simultaneously in a Spanish and something happened to me that changed me irrevocably
I have realized that all my early lessons in corporate prayer were wrong, misguided, and foolish.
Corporate prayer does not have to be awkward, or intimidating, or rote… it can be a beautiful symphony of passionate cries for God to move mountains.
Mountains will move when we pray
Mountains will move when we pray corporately
I’m not suggesting the private prayers do not move mountains.
Private, personal prayer is hugely important to God:
· so much so that he gave us his HS to groan for us
· so much so the Jesus intercedes for us
But, I’ve been wrestling with a notion I cannot shake…that there is something special about corporate prayer.
· God is delighted when we pray corporately
· God listens carefully when we pray corporately
· God prefers that we pray corporately
· God moves mountains when we pray corporately
Today I want to show you why I believe that to be true and how we as a church are going to respond to it.
But before we do – a review:
Week 1 - Mountains will move when we have faith.
Week 2 - Mountains will move when we repent.
Week 3 - Mountains will move when we walk in the Spirit.
Next week – Mountains will move when we act.
Today - Mountains will move when we pray corporately
Here’s why I believe that to be true. Let’s begin with this verse:
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3 (KJV)
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3 (NIV)
· inhabits or enthroned comes form the root word “to sit”. Which tells me that this might be the best translation of that verse:
When God's people praise Him, He brings a big chair and sits there." Psalm 22:3
· when we pray and when we praise together (and you’ll see in a little while that the two are inseparable) we create an environment that induces God to settle in…be a part of the gathering…to be the centerpiece…
· we enthrone him…and he enthrones himself - corporate praise and prayer entices God to engage with us
2nd passage: As for the outsiders who now follow me, working for me, loving my name, and wanting to be my servants— I'll bring them to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. They'll be welcome to worship the same as the 'insiders,' Oh yes, my house of worship will be known as a house of prayer for all people." Isaiah 56:6-7 (The Message paraphrase)
· Corporate prayer and praise is like a magnet that draws outsiders in.
· I know you don’t think that…when you bring a guest you are hoping that no one around you gets all worked up…raising their hands…shouting out…singing at the top of their lungs… but that EXACTLY is what will draw people in…something bigger than themselves!
· The “nations” are drawn not to a house of good coffee, not drawn to a house of good seating not drawn to a house of good programs , not even drawn to a house of good teaching , they are drawn to a house of prayer and worship in which God brings a big chair and sits down!
There’s something special about corporate prayer and worship!
3rd passage: Matthew 18:18-20
"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:18-20
· note: Verse 20 – “there I am with them” (in the big chair)
· note: Verse 18-19 – the transference of authority in corporate prayer
earlier…Jesus had used this same phrase (binding and loosing) and added this…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
· Corporate prayer is like a battering ram against the gates of hell
Maybe this is why the early church …all joined together constantly in prayer Acts 1:14
The early Church didn’t have a prayer meeting;
the early Church was a prayer meeting.
They believed that Mountains will move when we pray corporately
There is something very special about corporate prayer and worship…
1. God inhabits corporate worship and prayer
2. There is magnetism in corporate worship and prayer
3. God confers authority through corporate worship and prayer
Finally I want to tell you a story… and if you’d like you can follow along as I tell it
2 Chronicles 20:1-30
· roughly 850 BC / 4th king of Judah – Jehoshaphat / Judah is about to be under siege of a vast army – coalition of nations
20:3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
· Jehoshaphat was terrified
· He called everyone together for corporate prayer (and fasting)
· Over a million people!
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem
12 we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." 13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD
· don’t miss the corporate nature of this (“and little ones”) = EVERYBODY!
Then in the midst of this massive worship and prayer gathering…God gave a word to someone 14 the Spirit of the LORD came upon one of the men standing there. His name was Jahaziel
15 He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.
· which by the way sometimes happens in corporate prayer – God gives insight to someone for the whole group
18 Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD.
Now I want you to note what happened next…
20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful." 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
· Note: Vs. 21 – after consulting (processed with everyone corporately)
· their decision – attack with worship! They lead with a worship team!
26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah (Blessing), where they praised the LORD.
28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.
· Of course they concluded the whole saga with corporate worship and prayer
Here is the point of this story…
1. Not only does God inhabits corporate worship and prayer
2. Not only is there is magnetism in corporate worship and prayer that draws others in
3. Not only does God confer authority through corporate worship and prayer
4. When God’s people gather together in corporate faith, prayer and worship … God responds and moves mountains.
What we cannot obtain by solitary prayer we may by corporate...because where our individual strength fails, there union and agreement are powerful.
Chrysostom 400 AD
To clasp the hands together in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world – Karl Barth
Remember back in the first week of this series I shared my personal hopes for us?
· That we are known as a church that worships like there is no tomorrow.
· That we are known as a church that prays with a passion that is breathtaking.
· That we are known as a church that is characterized not by polite applause but uproarious clamor.
· That we are known as a church that prays for ridiculous things…
o the end of poverty/ abortion/ human trafficking
o the defeat of AIDS and the destruction of racism
Those things are all possible when we all commit to pray fervently on our own..But even more so when we gather together in small groups and large gatherings, in our homes and in this place and we raise our voices together in passionate repentance worship and prayer … it is then we will see…
Mountains will move when we pray corporately
Sp, in light of that I want to announce what I believe to be the first of many corporate worship and prayer gatherings of Grace church.
Grace Church Worship and Prayer Gathering
Monday evening, March 18
An evening in which we will experience together:
Intercessory Prayer – pray for others
Ministering Prayer – be prayed for by others
Strategic Prayer - pray together for mountains to move
Passionate Worship – right Steven?
For the rest of our time we are going to give you a taste of what that gathering will look and feel like. (today we’re not going to ask you to pray out loud or with someone else…but we will on March 18th)
Let’s begin by…inviting God to sit down among us…
Loving God, I hold in your healing presence those who suffer from deep pain...
(Allow the names and faces of those you know to come to mind, and then pray)
...May you move their mountain!
Powerful God, I cry out on behalf of those who suffer from great injustice…
(Allow the injustice that most grips your heart to come to mind and then pray)
...May you move that mountain