Prayer can be defined as “conversations with God”. Of course we know those conversations have a spiritual quality. And we also know that because of our animal nature, we should have those conversations regularly. There are several fundamental kinds of prayer like petition, adoration and meditation which we commonly use in those conversations. While most of our prayers are mixtures of those different kinds, awareness of the differences gives us a deeper understanding of our conversations with God and a deeper understanding of God Himself. However, I’ll look at some of those differences in another article. In this article I want to look at an aspect of prayer that is not typically discussed.
We know that when we approach God through prayer He approaches us. But we humans can also approach each other through prayer. How is that possible?
Prayer can also be divided into two main kinds – Private prayer (when you are alone with God) and public or corporate prayer (when there are other people around). An obvious difference between the two kinds is that we say things to God when we are alone with Him that we wouldn’t say in public. But that isn’t the only difference –
Remember the incident in Matthew 22:36 when the Scribes asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
Jesus responded with two things: “Love God” and “Love one another”.
He went on to say, “on these — the two commands — all the law and the prophets do hang.”
Private prayer and corporate prayer parallel those great laws. Both kinds of prayer draw us closer to God, but in corporate prayer we human creatures are also drawn closer to each other. Praying aloud in the presence of others allows us to learn a great deal about the needs and hearts of our brothers and sisters. During times of corporate prayer we hear how others think and how they approach issues and what is important to them. We learn those things in a special way – a unique and sensitive way that is sometimes filled with emotion and almost always filled with truth.
Such knowledge can be precious and must be thoughtfully heard, carefully considered and handled with care. Opportunities to pray together and learn about one another are always fewer than opportunities to pray alone so we must be sure to notice those times and take thoughtful advantage of each occasion.
Some people do not pray aloud during times of corporate prayer. If you are one of those, it is in your best interest to determine why. It could be shyness; it could be pride; it could be something like ‘stage fright’ or it could be some other reservation. Whatever it is, you should make a strong effort to set it aside in order to engage in corporate prayer and enjoy its special blessings. God has equipped each human being with the ability to pray. Not practicing certain aspects of it is to deny the benefits of that gift.
How have these thoughts affected your prayer life?
BTW: I have expanded on the concept of prayer in my book “Worshiping Alone”. If you have read the book, please go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a comment (click on rating stars). If you haven’t yet read it, please order a copy, read it, then leave a comment.
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