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Uniting in prayer is a creative way to increase your spiritual growth.
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
We’ve all heard stories of groups of people who come together in prayer and receive amazing results. One church grew by leaps and bounds after some of its members began gathering before the morning service to pray for growth. In another case, a man was healed of late-stage lung cancer following intensive prayer support from his son’s congregation.
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Is there power in numbers? Does God hear us better when we join our voices together?
If, by “power” we mean the ability to produce whatever outcome we choose, then, no, clearly not. For every cancer patient cured by prayer, there are many others who receive no cure even when hundreds of people are praying for them. But the act of praying together brings us into God’s presence in a fuller dimension than when we pray alone. There’s a reason why Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a banquet, rather than a table for two! Life’s important experiences are meant to be shared.
When I was 5 years old, my family spent a vacation at the sea shore. One evening we saw a spectacular sunset. The shimmering colors enthralled me, but the greatest joy was that everyone else was just as excited as I was. My sister and I kept jumping up from our beach chairs to point out new colors to our mother, who oohed and aahed appreciatively. Our grandparents, drawing on their vast store of memories, pronounced it one of the finest sunsets they had ever seen. Even our busy dad had a peaceful look on his face. The sharing of the experience meant more to me than the experience itself. In the same way, when we share the light of prayer, we not only feel closer to God but to one another.
Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a delightful evening at the home of some friends. As the serving dishes were passed from hand to hand, we discussed recipes, told jokes and caught up on the latest news. Afterward, savoring the memory of that dinner, I realized how praying together is very much like sharing a meal. It's true that the food would not be any less nourishing if each person ate separately, but breaking bread together feeds our spirit.
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Some benefits from praying together are:
1. Praying together, collectively more prayers are prayed. Each of us has a unique way of praying and praying together brings a new voice to the need.
2. Praying together gives me a deep feeling of belonging. When I am part of a group, I feel that I am a necessary part of a greater purpose.
3. Praying together improves my mood. Looking out among others and feeling their love and care regardless of how I felt when I began, I leave feeling comforted.
4. Praying together opens my heart to the needs of the people around me and reminds me that sometimes I can be the answer to someone’s prayer.
Although I know God is always with me, and I often pray alone and enjoy the benefits of my solitary prayer time, I feel his presence most strongly when I'm praying with others. I believe lifting one another in prayer is one of the richest experiences we can share. Together, we are strengthened and blessed.