Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 42 — United Prayer
Luke 11:1, "And it came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." II Corinthians 1:11, "Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf." Romans 15:30, "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me." Matthew 18:19,20, "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 6:8,9, "Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name."
Now it is usually best for the Christian to pray alone. Sometimes the temptation is to pray a pretty prayer and not to dwell on the Saviour as we should when others are hearing us. So it is usually more effective if the child of God does his praying and agonizing alone. Most Bible praying was done this way, and most Bible teaching has to do with this type of praying. However, sometimes two people can share the same burden enabling them to pray effectively together. This, of course, should be when they have the same thing in common. A mother and a father could pray for a child. Partners could pray together for a business. Children could pray together for a parent. Pastors could pray together for a revival.
In Luke 11:1 the disciples said, "Teach US to pray." No one said, "Teach ME to pray," but rather, "Teach US to pray." Then in the model prayer that follows this request we are told to pray, "OUR Father." Notice, it is not "MY Father," but "OUR Father." This at least, implies that our Lord realized the need for united prayer on some occasions.
In Matthew 18:19, notice especially the words, "it shall be done for THEM." Obviously there was united prayer, and God gave an answer to them collectively. When Peter was in prison the church met and prayed in united prayer. At Pentecost there was united prayer. Acts 1:9, "And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." Acts 1:12-14, "Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." United prayer is also mentioned in II Thessalonians 3:1, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you." Colossians 4:3, "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds." Philippians 1:19, "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." On occasions when people share the same burden, united prayer can be very effective. Perhaps this is the reason our Lord always prayed alone. No one shared His burden. No one understood His heartbeat.
I remember many time when Dr. John R. Rice and I prayer together. I would pray for the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, and he would pray for the SWORD OF THE LORD, and I would pray for Hammond Baptist Schools, and he would pray for the Voice of Revival Broadcast; then one of us would pray for America! Ah, a chord was struck! We had reached a place in our prayers where we could agree in one accord, and what sweet fellowship we had with the Lord and with each other as we together poured out our hearts for our nation.
This is why it is always best in united prayer to have a small group. It is difficult to find a great number of people who have the same burden.
In summary, it is usually best to pray alone. Occasionally a group may pray together if they share the same burden, but it should usually be a small group. United prayer should be practiced only if the same burden is shared. By the way, it need not be in the same place. It could be at the same time. People separated by many miles from each other could have united prayer at the same time as they meet together at the throne of grace. This can be a tool of great blessing.
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