Gathering for Prayer: Session 4

crop group stacking hands together

A place of freedom and peace.


We’re glad you’re back!

It’s our final session of our September Gather: Gathering for Prayer. We hope you have been blessed by joining us for part or all of this journey. We know we have been.

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Our exploration of corporate prayer this month taught us it is a place of humility, a conduit for God’s healing power to enter our world, and a fierce battlefield of faith.

What have you learned as you practiced praying out loud with others?

How have you experienced humility?

Where have you seen God’s power in response to your prayers?

Have you felt the battle as you sought to practice group prayer?

Last week, in the exercise of putting voice to your prayers, we asked you to include a time of corporate confession for the church as a whole:

Merciful God,
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.
Amen

What did you experience during the prayer?

Understanding corporate prayer as a place of humility and a conduit for God’s power to enter the world helps explain the battlefield nature of prayer on the personal and spiritual level.

Our flesh fights against humbling itself before God and others in prayer, and spiritually there are forces fighting hard against God’s people ushering God’s power into the world through prayer. But when we remember the battle is God’s, and in Christ the ultimate victory is already won, we can view corporate prayer as a place of freedom and peace.

A place of freedom and peace.

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Let’s return once again to our foundational Scriptures for our teaching on corporate 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

Where in these verses do you hear promises which offer a sense of freedom? peace?

If we gather humbly before Him to seek His face in prayer and if we repent of our sins — turn from our wicked ways — then God will heal, forgive, and attend the prayers we make in this place of humility.

Both healing and forgiveness offer the promise of freedom and peace as well as knowing the All-Mighty is attentive to all we ask. These blessings flow from His great grace to restore and renew all things, beginning with our relationship with Him.

Corporate prayer is a place of freedom and peace for Believers when we fully embrace the grace God gives each one of us to fulfill His purpose for us in the world. 

Grace is the way.

The apostle Paul knew the power of God’s grace on a personal and experiential level. It is a truth and reality he did not want the church to miss.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. … And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16 ESV (emphasis added)

What has been given to each Believer? in what measure?

Grace is given to each and every Believer, according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

How big is the measure of Christ’s gift? Is it not complete in its measure?

Christ’s gift to us, is abundantly complete. Every single child of God rises from the baptismal waters with the complete, full, immeasurable gift of grace. Only this gift is more like a seed in us that grows. 

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Stacy says:

In my morning quiet time I’ve been copying, scripture word for word. My journey with this new exercise recently led me to the Ephesians scripture. As I slowly penned Paul’s message my focus shifted. I’ve read this verse many times, and I was always focused on the list of gifts given. What gifts do I have? How do I walk worthy in them? What gift is God calling me to. The picture in my mind was much like a teacher handing out treats at the end of the day according to behavior and assigned task. Like if God called you to be a preacher then he gave you an extra heaping spoon full of the gift needed to shepherd a flock of people and if you were obedient you got even more. Oh my… what was I thinking?

When my focus shifts from which gifts I have and how to measure them, I recognize everything I need to build up the body of Christ is already within me. There is a new sense of freedom and peace to step into the places God calls me as a way to grow the gifts I’ve been given.

The fullness of grace in us manifests itself in an infinite number of ways. The truth is we are all leaders in the church. We are all called to serve as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to someone at some point in our walk of faith. Why? To equip the saints until we attain unity in the knowing of Jesus. We are called to be a body that continues to encourage maturity until we all stand in the full stature of Jesus. The church is a place where we grow up in the grace of Christ.

Did you notice “pray-er” is not one of the leadership roles listed in this Scripture. Why? Because prayer is the language we use to talk with God both for the growing of our personal relationship with Him and growing our relationship with the church. Praying with others brings about unity, patience, gentleness, humility, bearing burdens, and speaking truth. Have you noticed how hard it is to judge another when you’ve spent time praying with them? 

Corporate prayer literally softens our hearts to the burdens and struggles of others. We take on a portion of their burden as our own. Thus, the church builds itself up in love, prayer upon prayer. 

Grace makes it possible, giving us the freedom to approach God and making the way for us to forge peace with others through the grace we have received. Every single one of us who believe in Jesus already has the complete, full gift of Grace. Nothing else is needed. Stepping out of our comfort zones to pray with others is essential to the maturity of the church. 

We just have to be willing to gather and open our hearts to the work He wants to accomplish.

The language of prayer.

Another great grace God gives His people is Scripture. It is God’s Word to us. The language He uses to speak to us. And the language He provides for us to come to Him in prayer.

Timothy Keller, in his book on prayer, says understanding Scripture is essential to the practice of prayer.

We know who we are praying to only if we first learn it in the Bible. And we know how we should be praying only by getting our vocabulary from the Bible. None of this should be a surprise, since we see this basic dynamic played out in the development of every new human being. …

It means that our prayers should arise out of immersion in the Scripture. We should “plunge ourselves into the sea” of God’s language, the Bible. We should listen, study, think, reflect, and ponder the Scriptures until there is an answering response in our hearts and minds.

–Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (emphasis added)

Carol says:

When I read this teaching in Timothy Keller’s book on prayer I was struck with the truth of it because it was what I experienced in my own prayer life: God answering my prayers with His Word, at times with chapter and verse.

The more I was in the Word, the more He spoke Scripture back to my heart in my times of prayer. His language, His Word, became the way we speak to one another.

Knowing who we are praying to reinforces and affirms our prayers of praise with Scriptures. Knowing the history of all He has done for His people fuels our thanksgiving. And asking Him to show us how and what to pray empowers our prayers with His will.

Praying God’s Word back to Him in the way He calls us to, blesses us with the peace of knowing we have prayed His will, and freedom to let go of our hurts and heartaches, giving them over to the One who has the plan, purpose, and power to bring about the healing we so desire.

Scripture-based Spirit-led corporate prayer is a place of freedom and peace on so many levels. And oddly enough, embracing the battlefield mentality leads us to this conclusion.

Prisoners of war.

Paul, who penned the letter to the Ephesians, describes himself as a prisoner for the Lord because he was literally under arrest for being a Christian. Another truth can be heard in his words. People as a whole were created to serve, we are not, never have been, and never will be independent beings. We either serve the evil in the world or we serve God (Romans 6:16). 

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Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Recognizing the battle we face against unseen enemies explains so much of the pain and struggle of life. When we embrace the spiritual reality behind our failure to live up to the standards we set for ourselves, we are set free from self-condemnation because the battle we face and the transformation we need belong to God. It is in His hands. We are, in a sense, prisoners of war, either in the hands of evil or in the hands of Righteousness. Our failures are only signs of a work not yet complete. 

Embracing the truth: I am the worst! is extremely freeing when we see the Gospel as a great act of love and deliverance, not a challenge to live up to. It’s true, we can’t. But we have been set free by His grace. At peace with God through Christ we are free to rest in His grace. Come under His Lordship. Let Him lead by His Spirit.

In Christ we are set free from sin and like Paul, in a way, prisoners for the Lord. As slaves to righteousness we find freedom and peace in serving Him. One way we do this is by gathering in prayer.

Our format.

abstract brick bricks brickwork

A foundation for building our place of freedom and peace in corporate 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.
  • Short-sentence prayers make room for many to join with you in your prayer.
  • Listen to one another and pray in response to one another.
  • Listen for the Holy Spirit for direction in praying.
  • 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.

Prayer time.

Take time to pray with others, exercise your freedom and find peace.
Gather some Believers.
Fill out your guide.
Choose a leader.
Pray.

Remember.

In the battle of gathering for prayer, by God’s grace, we enter a place of freedom and peace.

  • Freedom from worries and anxieties, wounds and hurt, when we come together before God bringing our concerns to Him. We hear others pray His heart over our cares, loosening the grip of fear, isolation, and self-centeredness the enemy has on our hearts.
  • Peace in bringing our need for healing to God, knowing He will use His power to heal and is working His purpose through our ordeal, and attending to our prayers. When we humbly share our hearts with others in prayer the Spirit builds both peace and unity in our faith community.

Freedom and peace. They go missing, because we are in a battle. Remember, God has given us a way to return them to our lives, bring them back to our worlds.

If My people humble themselves, and pray
then I will forgive and heal their land.

Gathering for Prayer.

As we wrap up this September Gather on corporate prayer, we encourage you to practice, practice, practice gathering in prayer.

We hope you’ll make a commitment to gather with others on a regular basis to bring God’s healing power into the world. To humble yourself before Him, seek to live a holy life and foster a sensitive spirit quick to repent. Steep yourself in Scripture — the language of prayer — and become more fluent in God’s Word. Come to know the freedom and peace of coming together before God and handing over your hurts and heartache to Him.

Yes, we can pray on our own, but community is built and the church matured when we gather together with Believers as God calls us to.

blue and white wooden church during daytime
Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash

Here at the home of Sister Talk Faith, we’ve made a commitment to open our doors to gather for prayer.

Gathering for Prayer
Fridays 8:30-9:30 am
Beginning October 9, 2020
at 
Picture This!
111 E Commerce St
Jacksonville, Texas

Invite others to come alongside. Let’s get about the work of exercising our freedom to gather in prayer and find His peace in the center of it all.

Blessings until we Gather again,
Carol & Stacy

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