So glad you’re back!
We’ve been exploring an important practice of the church in our September Gather: corporate prayer. The practice of gathering with other Believers to pray.
We have discovered group prayer is a practice of humility and a conduit for God’s healing power to enter the world. And we’ve encouraged you to gather with others and put voice to your prayers.
What has been your experience in praying out loud over the last couple of weeks?
Last week we asked you to practice praying praise to God from our foundational verses for Gathering for Prayer:
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
What attributes of God did you find to praise Him for in these verses?
Here are some attributes we found to praise Him for:
- God’s sovereignty — control — over creation: When I shut up the heavens… command the locust… send pestilence…
- He calls or chooses people: My people who are called by My name…
- God is seekable/findable: seek My face…
- Judge: turn from their wicked ways…
- He hears His people: then I will hear…
- God is Most High: from heaven…
- Forgives: will forgive their sin…
- Heals: heal their land…
- God sees and is attentive: My eyes will be open…
- He answers prayer: My ears attentive to the prayer…
What did you experience in your time of praising God?
Halfway through our September Gather we’re ready to look at another aspect of corporate prayer.
Session 3: A battlefield.
This week we are exploring corporate prayer as a battlefield of faith.
The night sky makes a beautiful picture of the reality of the spiritual state of the world in which we live. An inky blackness envelopes the earth. Separated from God, it’s totally encased in darkness. The darkness of sin and death that we gave rulership over the world by rebelling against God’s authority in the beginning.
Therefore, the minute (or even second) we confess our faith in Jesus and experience our spiritual rebirth, this world becomes enemy territory.
We have three primary enemies we fight against as Believers in Jesus. They constantly attack us and try to disable us in our work for God.
- The world. Meaning the godless system of understanding and order, the world’s present condition due to sin and death.
- Satan. The one who is the prince of the world and defines how the world currently works, because we gave him control when we fell for his lies in the garden of Eden.
- Our own flesh. Our natural desires in direct opposition to God’s ways. He says lose your life to find life and all the while we are hell-bent on self-preservation.
These are the forces we fight against: the world system, evil, and our own broken wounded natures.
Now imagine again the night sky. Behind this layer of darkness is God. The gracious loving God who longs to take back His creation. His purity and light, His holiness and righteousness blazing brightly behind the dark covering could easily extinguish its hold on the world. But it would also destroy many thousands who have not yet returned to Him.
He’s made a Way for the lost to return. Through Jesus, sin and death are already defeated, however, not wanting to lose a single soul, He waits patiently behind the darkness.
In the waiting, every Believer becomes a channel or conduit through the darkness. A way for God’s light and love to do its work in the world without destroying it, but saving it. Just like Jesus.
So, when you look at the night sky, see the stars as Believers. We are light piercing the darkness. Each star, a picture of a conduit making the way for God’s light, love, and healing power to enter into our world. One way we do this is by gathering in prayer.
…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.
Corporate prayer is a powerful weapon on the world’s spiritual battlefield.
We are warriors.
As a child I often sang a song, “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery. I may never fly o’re the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army.”
Oh how a simple song reminds me of something I often forget. I am a warrior in the Lord’s army, and everyday is a battle to take back what the enemy has stolen in me and the world around me. But I have no reason to fear. For my leader is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who provides power and strength and victory. I have impenetrable armor and an unstoppable weapon. At the very whisper of the name Jesus, every knee bows and every tongue declares He is Lord. He reigns in His kingdom here and now.
Jesus’ teaching in Mark shows us a key to fighting the battle.
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.
Mark 3:22-27 ESV (emphasis added)
Webster’s dictionary defines bind as “to make secure by tying, to confine or restrain, to wrap around as to cover or protect.” We have the ultimate power through prayer to bind up any and every stronghold in our lives and the lives of others. Once bound in Jesus’ power, then we plunder. Taking back and restoring all things to their rightful place in God’s kingdom.
This battle takes a warrior mentality. A no holds barred, fearless fighter who knows Jesus has the ultimate, eternal victory. This is a war the enemy has already lost, and the battle belongs to God. The Holy Spirit imparts all the strength and power we need to bind strongholds and plunder, take by force, what belongs to our Heavenly Father.
Entering into corporate prayer with the attitude of a warrior reminds us of the spiritual reality in which we live. It reminds us we have enemies who don’t want us to pray, who want to bind and paralyze with sin, guilt, temptation, lies, and shame.
Recognizing the battle means we can be aware of the voices who deter and discourage us in our fight to gather with others in prayer.
Every battle needs a battle plan! Ours is 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.
- Pray short-sentence prayers to make room for others to join you in your prayer.
- Silence is space for God to enter the conversation.
We have a prayer guide for you to fill out to help you prepare for your time of prayer. 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. Battle to bring His healing power into your world.
- Continue to practice praying out loud. Invite a someone or two to pray with you this week.
- Continue to practice praising God out loud using Scriptures as the foundation for your prayers.
You may want to begin recording God’s attributes and supporting verses on notecards to start amassing an arsenal of prayer.
- This week add corporate confession to your time of group prayer. Pray the following Prayer of Confession out loud. As you pray consider the words as they speak to your personal life and as they apply to the entire church.
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
See you next week!
Carol & Stacy