A Symphony of Prayer

Dan Lenington on June 13, 2014

Underground Church

Having grown up in church all my life, I am well acquainted with typical corporate prayer meetings. When it comes time to pray, people raise their hand and share their prayer requests. Often those request are for health needs or unspoken needs, or the occasional unsaved acquaintance. Request time lasts for 15 minutes or so and then everyone splits up into groups of 2-3 and takes turns praying. for 5-10 minutes each. Unfortunately, there is very little burden, passion, or life in our typical prayer meetings. Consequently, there is very little expectation or result. This was the only kind of corporate prayer meeting I had ever experience or heard of until a small booklet was recommended to me at our recent men's retreat. This booklet entitled A Symphony of Prayer by John R. Van Gelderen is based on a study of Matthew 18:19-20. "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." The promise that two or three can receive any prayer they ask (provided it is according to the will of God) is worth claiming. Therefore, we must examine the condition.

The condition is that they must "agree" for the promise to be applied. This word agree is translated from the word sumphoneo, literally meaning "to produce sound together" where we get our word symphony. Our prayers must be in harmony with each other and with the leading of the Holy Spirit (the conductor). We must have a symphony in the burden we have that it is truly what God has laid on our heart and we have a biblical and unselfish right to ask for this need. We must have agreement then on faith in God's promises from Scripture as they relate to that specific burden. "...Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" Rom. 10:17. As the group is convinced through Scripture promises that God has heard the prayer and will intervene in the burden, the symphony of praise can begin. This final form of agreement in prayer exults in the confirmation God has granted through the promises of His Word. The fulfillment of the burden can be expected so praise is in order.  

Practically speaking, though, what would facilitate the the application of this instruction for corporate prayer? Here are a few helps. 1. Be Focused. Don't let your mind wander in all sorts of other directions. The point of corporate prayer is praying together. We aren't taking turns delivering a speech to God while everyone else zones out. We can join in agreement with the one praying through words such as "Amen" and "Yes, Lord," but also through groanings of burden following the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26). 2. Be Brief. Long prayers quickly lead to daydreaming and loss of focus for others. Long prayers also lead to routine prayers of simply praying through a list. Perhaps, prayer lists should be disposed of altogether so that we might simply pray for those whom God's Spirit specifically leads us to pray. If we are not burdened for someone then our prayers will do them no good. Also, trying to pray long enough for our prayer to be "substantial" is a fleshly motive and will not be blessed or answered. When the Spirit stops leading you in prayer, Stop Praying! When the Spirit begins leading you again to pray or places a new burden on your heart, take your turn praying for that burden. 3. Let Requests Be Voiced In Prayer. Prayer request time takes much time away from prayer. Often, requests are made for prayer concerning issues with which we are not actually burdened. Sometimes, we simply make a request in order to have a request. Unspoken requests are intentially vague which violates the command to ask for what we specifically need (Luke 11:11-12). If it is sensitive, then pray alone with someone you trust. 4. Guard against Distractions. Anything that breaks your focus and concentration is a distraction. In symphony halls, all distractions are silenced. 5. Speak Loudly Enough For the Size of the Group. If you can't be heard, others cannot symphonize with you in your burden. Remind those you pray with to speak up. 6. Participate Only As the Holy Spirit Leads. A symphony is comprised of many instruments, and a symphony of prayer must include at least two or three voices. Women and young people were also included in the corporate prayer meetings of the New Testament (Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 11). 7. Be In Tune. If you are not walking in the Spirit and in tune with God, don't pray. If you are just praying because its your turn or you are expected to pray, don't pray. Instead, ask God to give you a burden for what you hear others burdened for. Confess your sin and prepare your heart so you will be ready to join in.  Your prayer will be of the flesh and it will deaden the corporate prayer meeting (John 6:63). Fleshly prayers are repulsive to the Spirit of God and He won't stick around to hear it. 8. Don't be Self Conscious. Many never pray with others because they think their prayer will sound simple or silly. Self consciousness is pride and therefore, sin. It must be confessed and forsaken. God prefers simple, honest prayers anyhow and despises the prayers "to be seen of men." (Luke 18:10-12; Matt. 6:5).

God intends for us to have our prayers answered in the affirmative. Praying corporately carries a unique promise of fulfillment, for agreement with other spiritually minded believers will deepen our burden, increase our faith, and multiply our praise. Corporate prayer meetings shouldn't be a drudgery. They should be the most exciting service of the week, as we share our burdens in prayer, find God's promises, trust His Word, claim the victory, and praise Him for the expected answer. The best part is that you only need two or three. So grab your sister, brother, husband, wife, mom or dad and pray for your burden until God confirms the answer through His Word!