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Corporate Prayer

In my experience with non-denominational and baptistic churches, the highlight of a Sunday morning gathering is the sermon.  This is the time we dig deep into the Word of God.  I think this is a great emphasis and needs to continue, but have we focused on the sermon (and music) to the neglect of corporate prayer?

There is a great article in the latest edition of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society by Grant Osborne titled, “Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in the New Testament.”  The thesis of the article is this: “In both Judaism and the early church, corporate prayer was at the heart of their services.” He proves this thesis in the article by walking through a brief survey of Judaism, the ministry of Jesus, Acts, Pauline Epistles, General Epistles, and Revelation.  In each instance Osborne highlights the recurring emphasis of corporate prayer.  Here are a few highlights and quotes:

  • “Jesus was more than anything a man of prayer.  As a pious Jewish Yahweh worshipper, he would have prayed three times a day as well as saying the blessing at meals.  H prayed at the critical moments of his life…” (see Luke 3:21, 6:12-13, 9:18, 9:28-29, 22:44, 23:34, 23:46).
  • Jesus’ teaching on prayer is corporate, as seen in Matthew 18:19-20 and the Lord’s Prayer.
  • The early church described in Acts is regularly gathered for prayer at the Temple and in homes (see Acts 1:14, 2:46, 3:1, 13:2-3).  This leads to Osborne’s conclusion: “For Luke, prayer is the distinguishing mark of true discipleship, and churches that make a difference will be churches that are oriented to prayer, including both set prayers and spontaneous prayers as in the synagogue.”

I could go on, but this is sufficient to make the point: prayer matters.

This leads to an important question: does prayer matter in our corporate worship (or gathering as a Small Group)?  As a percentage of our time spent together, how much time do we spend in prayer?  If prayer is at the center of the life of Jesus and of the early church, is this really the one thing that we want to cut out or eliminate from our gatherings?  Or should we get rid of something else in order to make room for prayer?

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  1. August 6, 2014 at 11:05 am

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