1 Corinthians 14:16 (ESV) - Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
The only time we all pray together as a church family is during our Lord’s Day morning corporate worship service. It’s a very important few moments in the life of our church family. Again, it’s the ONLY time we pray together.
This is not good, but for now, it is what it is. So, being it is what it is, we should make the most of it. Here are some simple suggestions on how we can make the most of our “Pastoral Prayer” every Sunday morning.
First, come prepared. Spend a little time praying through the “Psalm for prayer” for that week. The next week’s Psalm is regularly listed in Sunday’s bulletin. It’s also regularly posted on our church blog and Facebook pages. “Learn to pray the Psalms.” Countless godly men and women throughout the history of the church have said as much as they pursued God through the Psalter. Some churches only sing from the Psalter they believe it is that important. Regardless, we can and should learn to pray the Psalms and we work through one each week as a church family.
Second, be proactive. Actually pray when we are being led corporately in prayer. Quietly but focused. Pray intently. Pray intentionally. Pray intensely. 1 Corinthians 14:16 assumes that a congregation should both participate and respond during the church service. There is the assumption that people should say “Amen” when hearing something with which they agree. We often say, “And all God’s people said…” and expect a congregational “Amen” at the end of a public prayer. That’s because it’s a public prayer. It’s not a time for private prayer. We are following the lead of the one praying and we say “Amen” to voice our support and agreement with the leadership.
Third, be involved. Be praying for your church family on a regular basis. When you receive an email with a prayer request, stop for a quick moment and offer a simple prayer to God as intercession for the one in need. And if you can’t do it then, don’t delete the email until you have time to actually pray. Otherwise, like me, you will most likely forget about the need. We need each other to intercede for each other. We are desperate for these kinds of interventions before the throne of grace whether we realize it or not.
We’ve seen a bit of a growth spurt lately as a church family. It’s going to grow more and more difficult to know the other members of the church family well. But one way we can all keep in touch with each other is through prepared and proactive involvement with each other, both throughout the week and then in climax each Sunday when we engage in corporate prayer.
We can never pray too much, but we can schedule too many prayer meetings. There are other things that God has commanded us to do, for sure. But we DO need to pray more and pray better as a church family, and that will eventually include some more opportunities for corporate prayer. But we might as well start with what we’re already doing. So, please, give a little direct attention to corporate prayer, and with your brothers and sisters in Christ, lift your voice with a hearty “Amen” when directed.