Why Community Groups? To Help Us Pray for One Another

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Why Community Groups? To Help Us Pray for One Another

If you have read the last two entries in this “one another” series, I trust you have begun to see a trend- the passages of Scripture that focus on ‘one another’ are a helpful paradigm to show us how we live and interact with each other in the body of Christ. Love is the foundation for all our interactions, and honor is one way that love is expressed. Another vital element of our relationships is prayer. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies. (WSC Q.98) While many volumes have been written about prayer, I hope to focus this article primarily on prayer as it relates to our relationship to others within the body of Christ.

Prayer is not primarily about us, or even about our own or our fellow-believers’ needs. It is first and foremost about God and the privilege of communicating with Him. God has spoken to us in His Word, and we have the enormous privilege to respond to Him by speaking to Him in prayer. In fact, John Knox called prayer “an earnest and familiar talking with God.” Therefore, our prayers should be shaped by the Word of God and by our knowledge of Him-which of course comes from His Word. When we pray, our primary goal should be God’s glory. This includes how we think about our own needs and those of our fellow Christians. If our brother or sister in Christ is suffering, we certainly should pray for alleviation of their suffering, but we do it with an eye to there being an even bigger purpose in that suffering- which there always is. (James 1:2-5) God invites us and commands us to pray, and to pray for one another. James 5:16 tell us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.”  This passage is focused upon a prayer for healing, but given other Scriptures regarding our growth in grace, we should pray for each other’s spiritual as well as physical health.

Prayer is a mysterious and God-ordained means that He has designed to be used in the accomplishment of His sovereign will. When a Christian prays, he or she is not changing God’s mind, yet they are participating in the completion of His purpose. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6, He told them (among other things) to pray that God’s will would be done. We know that God is sovereign and that He will accomplish all His decrees. His will, will be done. However, we are still commanded to pray for its accomplishment! Is that strange? A little. But what a tremendous blessing!  Dr. Douglas Kelly, in his book, If God already Knows, Why Pray? says, “The sovereign God on His throne, who has planned all things from the beginning to the end, has arranged His plan in such a way that the prayers of the saints are one of the major means He uses to accomplish His final goal. Instead of the sovereignty of God clashing with the prayer of the believer, the two actually presuppose one anther and fulfill and undergird on another.” God has ordained that He would use our prayers to accomplish His good purposes!

Because of the way that God has designed prayer to “presuppose, undergird, and fulfill” His sovereign will, we can become part of the accomplishment of His will in the life of our fellow believers through prayer! As we pray, we become vested partners with God in the fulfilling of His purposes in the lives of our fellow Christians! That’s a spectacular thought-that God allows us to enter into, if you will, His work in the lives of His children. There is great spiritual blessing here. There are practical blessings as well. When we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are thinking about them. We are considering their feelings, pain, suffering, needs, and desires.  This should be always done while seeking to consider their earthly trials in light of heavenly gain. But we can and should grow more sympathetic to their needs. Their needs should be upon our hearts. And when we see them, it should be natural for us to ask them about things that we know are on their heart. This is the way that we love one another through prayer.

How does all this relate to our community groups? Prayer is a major component of our community groups, so that we learn to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Community groups give us opportunities to see each other on a regular basis and interact outside of the context of a church service. As we are in each other’s homes, having regular times to be together and learn about each other’s lives and needs, we gain opportunities to function as the body of Christ, appreciating the differences among us and rejoicing in our common bond in Jesus Christ.

Do you want to make a difference in someone’s life? Pray for them! Prayer is not sitting idly by, merely hoping for something to change. It is active communication with God, based upon His Word. And it is active involvement in the needs and struggles of our fellow Christians within the church.