A conduit for His power to enter the world.
Gathering for Prayer is our September teaching. We are coming together to learn about and practice corporate or group prayer as an essential spiritual practice of the church.
Last week we considered how corporate prayer is a place of humility. We gather with a humble attitude before God and one another in fellowship. Through prayer we share our hearts with God and the group, listening to each other and for the Holy Spirit’s response.
Your homework was to spend time praying out loud, either alone if you were uncomfortable with vocalizing your prayers or with others if you were already comfortable with praying out loud.
What did you experience as you prayed out loud? What about praying with others?
This week we continue our four-part Gather on corporate prayer.
Session 2: A conduit for His power to enter the world.
Our foundational Scripture for Gathering for Prayer is found in the Old Testament.
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers made in this place.
2Chronicles 7:13-15 ESV (emphasis added)
In 2Chronicles 7:13-14, we see God express His sovereignty over all creation by taking credit for droughts, infestations, and disease. He then places responsibility on His people, those who have placed their faith in Him, to humble themselves, pray, seek His help, and repent of their sin so He can hear their prayers and provide forgiveness and bring healing to the land.
This week we are exploring how God’s people, through corporate prayer, are a conduit for His healing power to enter the world.
Consider God’s words recorded in the book of Ezekiel after He listed off a string of sins committed at every level of authority in Jerusalem, the City of God, from princes to priests, and prophets to the general public.
And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall and stand in the breach before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
Ezekiel 22:30 (emphasis added)
How many people was God looking for to stand in the gap before Him on behalf of the land so He would not destroy it because of sin?
Any-one. God was looking for someone, anyone. A single person to stand in the gap before Him.
How many did He find?
He found no one. Not one person.
God looked for someone to intercede on behalf of the land, to repair the hedge of protection which was breached by sin. Someone to cry out for Him to pour out mercy instead of wrath. Believers have the ability to stand against the enemy, both outside the walls and within, when they are willing to humble themselves, pray, seek God, and repent of their sins.
[Note: Before anyone wonders why Ezekiel wasn’t fulfilling this role in Jerusalem, he had already been taken captive in a previous raid by the Babylonians. Ezekiel was receiving God’s prophetic message in exile.]
We are called to be intercessors — mediators, advocates, conduits — those who stand in the gap on behalf of others. In this case, between the world and God.
An authority issue.
In the beginning, God created earth and the entire universe as a dwelling place for mankind. Then He gave us authority over it. In our foolishness, we gave away the authority we had to Satan. We fell for his deceit rather than trusting the Creator and serving only Him.
God being the gracious God He is, accepts our choice. Therefore, darkness reigns, sin and death are the rule of life. He is not pushy, He gives what He gives without taking it back. But He also had a plan to redeem and restore. Because His loving gracious nature won’t leave us as we are.
Jesus was the plan. Fully-man. Fully-God. He came and took back authority for mankind by paying the penalty exacted for sin: death. But death couldn’t hold Him because He had no sin of His own. As Creator wrapped in human flesh, He became the representative for us ALL. An intercessor to the nth degree.
He is the Light of the world who brings victory over darkness. His followers are called to be the same. It is through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit we can approach God the Father on behalf of the world to bring His great good into our land to overcome the evil we opened the door to.
Through prayer we usher His great love, life, and peace into a hurting dark world.
An important part of the preparation for corporate prayer is corporate confession, because sin — unrepentant sin — clogs the conduit of God’s power: the church.
Not long ago I joined my church family in a time of corporate prayer for global church leaders meeting to make doctrinal decisions that impact our denomination on every level. I entered the sanctuary and sat in the silence listening for God’s direction. The familiar words of our corporate prayer of confession began to come to mind. We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart… we have broken your law… rebelled against your love… we have not loved our neighbor. Before I realized it I was kneeling on the floor, tears flowing down my face. My heart was broken in a surprising way. God took the words of a prayer I recited at least a thousand times and made it more personal than it had ever been.
Not the kind of “personal” that pointed to confession of my daily failure. It was as if I was praying a prayer of confession for one body with many members. I became a conduit of confession for the body of believers I call family. My sin became theirs and theirs became mine, and the experience forever changed my understanding of corporate confession.
One of the most difficult concepts we deal with in the church is the idea of corporate vs. individual. Our culture teaches us we must take responsibility for our own actions. Through this teaching there is a more subtle underlying message to never take responsibility for someone else’s mess. Many times a day we hear an individualistic message:
“Make it happen…”
“You got this…”
“You are responsible for you…”
We live in a society that values individualism, but when we consider Jesus’s life and biblical teaching about the church we hear a different way. We see God’s design for the church as one. Unified in every way.
We are one body with many parts. When one of us overcomes we all overcome. When one is healed we all experience healing. When one sins, we all sin, and when one matures, we all mature.
Being a fully united church under the power of the Holy Spirit has great potential to be an inexhaustible force for bringing God’s healing power into the world.
Rick Joyner, in his book The Call, gives us a clear vision of what a mature healthy church in Christ can do.
I was suddenly on a mountain where I could see the entire army. As I watched, I noticed that the plain was dry and dusty before the army, but immediately after the first twelve divisions passed, the earth was dark green, with trees giving shade and bearing fruit and pure streams flowing throughout the land. This army was restoring the earth.
One of the means we have to restore life to the earth, to our worlds both globally and personally, is through corporate prayer. Standing in the gap before God on behalf of the land. Humbling ourselves. Recognizing our dependent nature and our sin. Coming with repentant spirits.
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
James 5:16 The Message
As God’s people, we are called to pray because God’s light and power enter the world through our prayers.
Four-part conversational Spirit-led prayer.
- Praise. Telling God how great He is. Not giving thanks but boasting about Him.
- Confession. Out loud corporate confession or individual as led by the Spirit. Includes a time of silent confession for personal sins.
- Thanksgiving. Give God thanks for all He’s done.
- Intercession. Stand in the gap before God and the land. Asking for His healing of our land, families, and people: physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, mentally.
Things to remember:
- Listen for the leader of the prayer to move the group through each step.
- Listen to one another and pray in response to one another.
- Listen for the Holy Spirit for direction in praying.
We’re providing the prayer guide we used in the shop here. Click the link below.
We hope you’ll take time to practice prayer. Gather some friends or family and pray.
Fill out your guide.
Choose a leader.
Pray His healing power into your world.
- Continue to practice praying out loud. Invite someone to pray with you this week.
- Practice praise. Use our foundational Scripture, 2Chronicles 7:13-15, to praise God.
What aspects of His character do you see in these verses that are praiseworthy?
When you have determined His character traits from the verses, you may want to use a dictionary to define the words you are praising Him for. This can deepen your understanding of who He is.
Praise Him out loud in prayer. Remember, praise is not giving thanks.
We look forward to gathering again next week.
Carol & Stacy