By Rick Hamlin
5 Good Reasons to Pray with Others
I was rushing out of the office to get a late lunch when the elevator stopped at the law firm on the sixteenth floor and ten men dressed in dark suits squeezed on. “I guess you all had to leave at the same time,” I said.
“We’ve got to get back to our offices,” said the fellow with the yarmulke standing next to me.
“You don’t work here?” I asked.
“No, we come here to pray.” That’s when I realized they were a minyan, the traditional Jewish gathering of ten for prayer and worship. That they all come here to pray in the middle of the workday made me think of the value of praying in community. Obviously we often pray alone. “I am weary with my moaning,” says the Psalmist. “Every night I flood my bed with tears.” But what a gift to pray with others. Here are some five good reasons not to go it alone.
1. Jesus said so.
“Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you,” Jesus said. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” Agree together and then pray together. Your prayer will be answered. Such is the power of spiritual consensus.
2. It’s “Our Father ...”
The Lord’s Prayer is all in the first-person plural, not singular. The words are not “give me my daily bread” or “lead me not into temptation” but “give us” and “lead us.” Even if you pray the Lord’s Prayer alone, you’re meant to include others. Might as well have them with you when you pray.
3. Let others help.
How often the people I’m praying with have proved to be the very answer to prayer. It could be a word of advice or the suggestion of some resource. It might be an opinion that gives me needed perspective. Or it could simply be the leavening presence that any prayer community provides.
4. Share your sorrows.
A Jewish friend of mine turned to the tradition of saying Kaddish after her mother’s death. “One of the important parts of the tradition,” she told me, “is that you need to say Kaddish with a group.” Every morning before her job as an OB/GYN, she dropped by her synagogue to pray. She was not alone in her grief.
5. Praise grows in numbers.
The same friend explained that the text of the Kaddish is not mournful but full of praise: “May his great name be blessed for ever and to all eternity! Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored ...” Praise is essential to good spiritual mental health. Alone it can sound hollow. In a group its power magnifies.
When you find your prayer life going stale, look for a community to share it with you. OurPrayer provides an online community. Post your requests and we will pray for you. Tell us of your answered prayers, too, and we will rejoice with you.