In the month of July, we launch our annual Cell Month campaign. It’s a month of celebrating cell groups and encouraging members to be part of one. Cornerstone is a cell church and one of our core values is that life change happens best in cell communities. At the same time, we inaugurated the 40-Day Solemn Assemblies on July 1, a nationwide campaign to mobilise churches, leaders and believers in our nation to fast and pray.
Cornerstone had the privilege of anchoring the first week of prayer and fasting in the Central Zone. Tremendous momentum has been building up and there’s been much grace for prayer and fasting.
When we think about prayer, we tend to think of it primarily as a solitary and private activity. Yet, the Bible tells us to pray “at all times” and with “every kind of prayer” (Eph 3:18). Suzette Hattingh taught that the prayers of even one believer are occasions of divine conversations in which Father, Son, and Spirit all participate. When we pray, God talks to God. What’s more, Rev 8:3-5 pulls back the curtains of heaven to show us that the “prayers of all the saints” are gathered together in the heavenly places and are poured out together to accomplish God’s great purposes. Even one person in prayer is never truly alone. Here are some benefits of praying together:
1. Pray Together, Stay Together
There’s real meaning behind the oft-quoted “The family that prays together stays together.” Praying together is one of the single most significant things we can do to cultivate unity in our marriage, family and even more so in the church – the family of God. There’s a unity given to those who are partners in Christ and share spiritual life in Him. Acts 1:14 says it was “with one accord” that the first Christians “were devoting themselves to prayer.” Already, we’ve “the unity of the Spirit” and we’re to be “eager to maintain it” (Eph 4:3).
“Praying together is both an effect of the unity we share in Christ, and a cause for deeper and richer unity. It’s not only a sign that unity already exists among the believers, but also a catalyst for more.” – David Mathis
2. Pray Together, Grow Together
Chances are, most of what we know of prayer was learned from hearing someone else pray. Mary learned to pray from Hannah (Luke 1:46-55; 1 Sam 2:1-10). Saul (later Paul), undoubtedly, learned something about prayer from Stephen (Acts 7:57-8:1). Even Jesus taught his disciples to pray by giving them a crafted model (Matt 6:9-13) and by taking them by the hand and leading them together to the place of prayer (Luke 9:28; 11:1; 22:39-46). It takes humility to learn from one another, which causes us to grow together.
I remember a story told by an intercessor, who graduated from the Bible College of Wales, of how the intercessors were trained. They’d gather in a circle in prayer, with an empty plate before them, and were asked what they saw in the spirit, on the plate. Eventually, they all shared and saw the same dish with different ingredients. They learnt and grew together in openness and oneness in the spirit, and were entrusted with intercessory assignments beyond Wales.
3. Pray Together, War Together
We must realise we’re all part of the same Body of Christ. When one congregation is in a battle, we’re all in battle. During the 40-Day Solemn Assemblies, we stand with the rest of the Body in the city. God has an “exceedingly great army” He’s preparing. Through them, He intends to pull down the strongholds in their cities. We must be connected in Christ and the Holy Spirit will anoint us for effective spiritual warfare. We need prophetic vision to see what God’s doing, and embrace anointed intercession born of such vision. As Francis Frangipane said, “It takes a citywide church to win the citywide war.”
4. Pray Together, Win Together
James 5:14-16, and many other Scriptures imply that there are some answers to prayer we simply would not get without involving others in prayer.
God’s provision for some answers to prayer, is for others to join with us in the plea. Often we pray individually, and God is pleased to answer. But at times, His means include one another, the leaders of the church, a special prayer of faith, or with fasting. He wants us to war together; He also wants us to “celebrate the win” together. I looked at the end of the book and WE WIN!
May we stay, grow and war together to win the city for Christ. It’s indeed better to-gather!
Pastor Timothy Chong