#022† Why Are We Coming Together?
United Prayer Is Godís Way Of Displaying His Glory. † By: Steve Hawthorne
A wave of united prayer is surging around the globe in our day. More Christians are praying than ever before. The increase in numbers is a gratifying surprise, but the outstanding feature of todayís prayer movement is that we are finding ways to pray together.
We have found ourselves assembled as never before in churches, schools, and stadiums. We link our prayer by phone, satellite, and even the internet. We station ourselves around flagpoles, prayerwalk our neighborhoods, and throng public squares in praise. Common calendars galvanize the agreeing prayer of millions during special seasons. Fasting is no longer so rare, nor always kept discretely private, because we are often fasting together for days at a time.
Why is God arousing such an enormous, sustained prayer movement? We havenít been suddenly filled with sentimental fondness for one another. Surely we would have dismissed it all long ago if we thought that united prayer merely worked as some kind of gimmick guaranteed to force Godís hand. Why do we keep coming together to pray?
Bringing Glory to God
Whether we have gathered as small groups or in crowds of thousands, the real substance of this unity is that we have been joining Jesus in the work of prayer. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Mt. 18:20). Motivated by something far deeper than just sharing common concerns for prayer, we gather because we are attracted to Jesusí presiding mastery. We are joining Jesus, the incessant intercessor (Heb. 7:25), at a unique moment on heavenís calendar to bring forth something precious in the Fatherís heart.
He has convened us in prayer for a purpose. We need to grasp His purpose so that we will pursue the work of united prayer in faithful wisdom. Now is the time to nurture our hearts with passion for the wondrous matter for which the Father summons us to join His Son in prayer.
The purpose of praying is grandly simple if we see it from Godís point of view. Prayer is Godís way of glorifying Himself: "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (Jn. 14:13). How does this "glory" business actually work? As we pray, our attention is turned to God. As God answers, our affection can be returned to Him in gratitude. Having been asked, God can then be thanked.
United prayer enlarges that same dynamic for openly glorifying God among entire communities: "the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God" (2 Cor. 4:15). When we pray together, itís as if we have placed our requests on public record. As God answers those requests, His actions are spotlighted as being truly from Him.
A Remarkable Prayer
Consider the occasion of Jesusí most remarkable prayeróthe raising of Lazarus. He prayed conspicuously: "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me" (Jn. 11:41-42).
Lazarusí sisters had already established a history of publicly seeking God to act because of Jesusí love: "Lord, the one you love is sick" (11:3). When Jesus finally arrived, He invited Mary and Martha to join Him in the prayer that had been in His heart for days (11:5-11).
Martha couldnít be coaxed to pray further (11:22-27,40). Her grief had flattened to platitudes about the afterlife, but Mary poured herself out in the simplest eloquence, continuing her appeal to His love. She wept at His feet, arousing and exposing Jesusí love to the watching crowd (11:32-38).
The most dramatic result was not that Lazarus had a few years tacked on to his life or even that some onlookers were converted on the spot, but that public prayer triggered the greatest welcome Christ ever got from an entire city. We observe this biblical event as Palm Sunday, but it should be viewed as a prophetic portrait of the glory God intends to bring His Son everywhere.
The bystanders who heard Jesus praying and beheld His love in raising Lazarus lit the fuse of the greatest outbreak of glory in Jesusí life. "Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him" (Jn. 12:17-18).
This is why we need to learn believing, persistent prayer. As He said to Martha, He now says to us: "if you believe, you will see the glory of God" (Jn. 11:40). If we are persistent in seeking Him, learning to pray together from our heart to His, we will begin to honor Him with the fragrance of our thanks (Jn. 12:2).
What Can You Do?
1.†††††††† Ask your pastor how you can help develop prayer within your church.
2.†††††††† Find at least one person you can pray with weekly. Make revival in your life, your church, and your country the main focus of your prayer time.
3.†††††††† Take part in community and national prayer events, be it a March for Jesus, a community-wide concert of prayer, or a prayer breakfast. Pray with those from other churches and denominations.
STEVE HAWTHORNE is the founder and president of Waymakers, an organization that seeks to equip believers in the area of united prayer. Steve and Graham Kendrick have co-authored Prayerwalking: Praying On-Site with Insight (Creation House).
Originally published in Pray! Magazine
Jonathan Graf, Editor, Pray Magazine, P.O. Box 35004, Colorado Springs, CO 80935-3504
©1998 The Navigators All rights reserved.
Copyright 1999, NPPN - Permission granted for duplication or distribution among facilitators and intercessors who are committed to gathering pastors for prayer.
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