6. Pray In Community (Seven Steps for Better Prayer)

by | Jun 29, 2018

6. Pray In Community (Seven Steps for Better Prayer)

by | Jun 29, 2018

We’ve been looking at Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3, and what’s striking is how much joy Paul has, simply because of his relationship with the Christians in Thessalonica. Look at this:

Now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you—for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. … 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God? (1 Thessalonians 3:6-9)

Paul feels incredible joy, just hearing about them. He’s not just a spiritual supervisor, he’s not just a fellow member of this organization called the church, he’s an intimate friend who loves these people intensely. And so he prays for them out of the relationship that he has with them.

And he’s not just praying alone. He says, “What thanksgiving can we return to God for you?” He says, “We pray most earnestly night and day.” He and his friends are praying together.

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to pray with other people than it is to pray by yourself? That’s how it always is for me. Martin Luther felt the same way. He said, “At home in my own house there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through.”

There’s something about spending purposeful time with other Christians that focuses your mind and heart like a laser beam on Jesus. That’s why Paul’s praying for the Thessalonians to have this with each other: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father.” (v 12-13). He wants them to relate to God in community with one another, not just with him.

And then he takes it a step further. He asks the Thessalonians to pray for him: “Brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). I can imagine them saying, “Wait a minute, Paul, we thought you were an apostle. We thought you had a direct line to God. And you need us to pray for you?” Paul would say, “Absolutely. I need the family of God supporting me. I need the church!”

So why should we be any different? We need to pray with people often. And there are many different ways to do that. You can pray with your family. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out, that’s what will give you dread every time you think about doing it. In our family, I have one of the kids read a Bible verse in the car on our way to school in the morning, then we just pray for God to apply it to our lives that day. At bedtime, I pray with the boys and my wife prays with the girls. And then we find times to pray with each other.  If it’s awkward for you to pray with your spouse (and it will be awkward if you’ve never really done it) just commit to pray for 1 minute before you go to bed.  Just start small, and see where that takes you.

You can also be praying with your community group. If you’re not in a community group, here’s a directory of the groups at Harbor. Join one! Then in your everyday life, you can pray with your friends. If you’re having a conversation, turn it into a prayer. It doesn’t have to be long and dramatic, just pray with people! Pray in community.

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