Thursday, June 29, 2006

Group Praying

Do you remember Elijah and the priests of Baal? No, not the pop group! This was on Mt. Carmel and they had that contest---the rocks, water, sacrifice---calling down fire from heaven. Well, if you can recall, the priests of Baal danced around, screamed, cut themselves, and then Elijah said, I'm pretty sure sarcastically (UNDERSTATEMENT), 'pray a little louder and your gods might hear you.' Yeah, right. OK, so let's reverse that idea and say that group prayer is the same thing. If we get a whole lot of people together praying, then we will pray louder and God will then hear us. No. God already knows what you're praying, and He is not hard of hearing. Well, it's a kind of strength in numbers kind of thing then? Um. No. God has already said that He will answer your prayer, if you pray alone. That's right. Alright, so what is the thing with group prayer?

First, God likes hearing more people praying. He said that the prayer of the upright is His delight. More people praying equals more delight. Second, we can know what other people are praying, and then pray for what they are. Their desires for answers can become our desires for answers---we can supplicate on their behalf. These are very, very good, but I believe that the bigger deal is that group prayer is supposed to help us pray in the will of God. God works uniquely through the church in a way that He does not work through individuals. He gave the church the keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16:19). The agreement of the church gets the attention with God in the loosing and bounding of someone to the church (Matthew 18:15-20). God wants the church to judge matters (1 Corinthians 6). The unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4) means that the church is getting Holy Spirit led doctrine. Agreement from the church brings confidence that something is the will of God. And what kind of prayers does God answer? Those in the will of God.

People will say that prayer is a personal thing. Not group prayer. When we pray as a group, that means the whole group is thinking through the prayer, and if the group cannot agree with what you are praying, then one or more should say something. Do we want answers or to impress people with our prayer phrases? Do wish to look spiritual like a Pharisee standing on the street corner or are we interested in seeing God? Helpful in group prayer is opening our prayers to the grid of God's people, to see if our prayers ring true with them. Perhaps they will know that our prayer isn't Scriptural. If we do find unity about what we are praying for, then we are also very likely finding that our prayer has been in the will of God. And then you get answers.

14 comments:

Throwback 13 said...

* One of the good things about group prayer is that when one person falls asleep, the next person can continue on as if nothing happened.
* Of course that never happened to me!

Throwback 13 said...

* Pastor Brandenburg posted:

* "He gave the church the keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16:19)."
* This is an interesting statement. One that I have heard many times, but there is a gap in logic here that I cannot fill.
* Here is what the passage says: "And I will give unto thee [KJV English, singular, meaning Peter, see verse 18] the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou [again, singular] shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou [singular] shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
* This is the only place that the keys of the kingdom are mentioned.
* Now I am not saying that your interpretation is wrong. But I do wonder how we get from Peter being given the keys of the kingdom to the church being given the keys of the kingdom. (No, I am not defending Roman Catholicism!)
*
* After someone on SI cast aspersions on my hat, I guess I need to explain what kind of hat I wear. It is a thinking cap, even if it does look like a black western hat.
*
* Speaking through my hat,
* ... Joel

Jerry Bouey said...

Thank you for posting this - there are some aspects of this issue I was wondering about. I couldn't understand why if God would answer the prayer of 2 or 3, why we should get more people praying - seemed like just being religious (and no one else seemed to have an answer either when I asked about this) - but I can see what you mean about unity within the local church on a matter they are praying about. Though I do not think I have ever heard of someone going to the others and stating that they did not believe what was being prayed for was in God's will - if they ever thought that, they kept it to themselves. But I can see how this would be relevant, especially when praying for God's will in a major area - including when it involves as aspect of ministry. If the church is basically unamimous (after prayer), then that is a good indication that it is in God's will.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hey throwback. You are right about singular, Peter, leader, spokesman of the group. This I knew, and not attempting to contradict Scripture, but He used the singular because He was speaking to Peter specifically, going back a few verses in the context, but it applies to all of the first church members.

Throwback 13 said...

* Pastor Brandenburg's reply: "...but it applies to all of the first church members."
* I understood that. My question was how do we get from Peter to the church. If Christ wanted this to apply to more than Peter, He would have used 2nd person plural, "you", not singular.
* The question still stands. HOW do we get from giving Peter the keys to giving them to the church?

Jerry Bouey said...

It is not in Matthew 16 that we get this applied to the church, but in Matthew 18 (notice the context, and now plural pronouns are used):

Matthew 18:15-20 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 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.

Contrast that with this verse:

Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The difference is Peter was giving the keys to the kingdom - which means he had the authority to open the door of the Gospel to the Jews and to the Gentiles - and we find he is the first one to do so in the early church to each group.

All believers have the ability to bind and loose according to God's will - only Peter had the authority to open the door of the Gospel/kingdom.

Throwback 13 said...

* Brother Bouey,
*
* Well put. But this could lead to the discussion on the differences between the Jewish kingdom of heaven, as here, and the greater Kingdom of God, as in Heb. 11:40 (The better thing). But I don't think this is the time to muddy the waters.
*
* Still talking through my hat,
* ... Joel

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joel,

I think it provides a strong argument for human authority in the church. Peter made His confession, and Jesus answered him, and this was His answer; therefore, He spoke to Peter. But Peter was the leader of the group. John the Baptist got baptism from heaven, but that didn't mean that no one else could baptize. Peter could turn with that authority and give it to everyone else. The same authority as opening the doors to the kingdom is wrapped up in a whole lot of other commands that Jesus gave all of them. Something dispensational here though as well, related to Israel no longer possessing the keys.

Throwback 13 said...

* Pastor Brandenburg wrote: "John the Baptist got baptism from heaven, but that didn't mean that no one else could baptize."
* I think it would be interesting if we applied this same logic to the church: "The local church got baptism from heaven, but that didn't mean that no one else could baptize."
* Furthermore: "Peter could turn with that authority and give it to everyone else." How do we know that? Did he do it? Do we have any examples of this power being exercised by the church?
* I don't have any quarrel with the thrust or conclusion of your post. But, I believe that sometimes we repeat sweeping statements, or what some trusted and respected teacher told us when it turns out that the Scripture does not support the statement. I believe that God passed out authority to the Apostles which He intended to be passed on to the church. But I think that the "Keys of the kingdom of Heaven" were given to Peter. I do not see him passing this on to other disciples or to the church that followed.
* I doubt that I can thoroughly prove the point, but I don't think the contrary can be demonstrated, either.
*
* Speaking through my hat,
* ... Joel

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joel, just to be on the same page---what do you think the keys to the kingdom are?

Even So... said...

God works uniquely through the church in a way that He does not work through individuals.

Amen.

Even So... said...

Comment eaten by blogger, again...

Well, it will suffice to say "Amen!" to your comment, Kent:

God works uniquely through the church in a way that He does not work through individuals.

Throwback 13 said...

* Pastor Brandenburg asked: "Joel, just to be on the same page---what do you think the keys to the kingdom are?"
* Good question. Not to give a flippant answer, I think that the only available Bible definition is found in that same verse,
* ... Matthew 16:19 "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
* The only other place where "keys" is mentioned is Revelation 1:18: "I [Christ] ... have the keys of hell and of death." The word "key" (singular) is mentioned 6 times, but I consider only two to be relevant, Isaiah 22:22 "And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open," and Revelation 3:7: "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he ... that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth."
* All 4 passages speak of opening and closing doors. In Matthew 16:19, the doors are the Kingdom of Heaven. While we could spend a long time discussing the Kingdom of Heaven, I think we can agree that this included the Jewish (national) entrance to the eternal kingdom in the New Heavens and the New Earth and New Jerusalem (Rev. 21). (I say national because individual entrance into New Jerusalem depends upon one's name being entered into the Lamb's book of life.)
* This authority was apparantly used when Peter went to the house of Cornelius. As he later described it to the Jews in Jerusalem, they made the following interesting statement: "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life," (Acts 11:18).
* God often gives a flat out statement in Scripture, but later on follows it up with an example so that we might have a clear understanding of how it is to be used. I don't pretend to know all the ramifications of this statement, but I think that this Acts passage is the example that explains the giving of the keys.
* I doubt that I am being original here, but the keys of the kingdom of heaven appear to me to be the granting of the power to open the doors of salvation to other than just the Jews.
*
* Talking through my hat.
* ... Joel

Anonymous said...

"Talking thur Joel's hat".....well said. I have to agree that it would appear the door was indeed opened to others besides the Jews...and arn't we glad.

Thur Joel's hat......
ILA