One of the passages in the book of Acts that has so powerfully gripped me is found in chapter 12. It is written in verses 1-5:
1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
Here was a church facing persecution. They just lost James, the brother of John. And now, they were about to lose Peter. So how did they respond? Did they worry? Did they immediately devised a plan to rescue Peter? The answer to these questions is a resounding NO. Instead, they “prayed earnestly to God for him.” They prayed TOGETHER! In the following verses, we see how their prayers were answered and how miraculously Peter escaped from prison.
I’m a part of a campus ministry team. There were a lot of times that the odds were against me and the team. And when problem arises, it is so tempting to worry, to be disappointed, or to quickly find a solution without considering what God has to say. Even though the team and I respond in one of these ways, I have to say that none of these are biblical. Our first response should be TO PRAY!
I can’t help but give you some practical guidelines on praying together. I hope the following will be helpful to you and your team:
1. Set a common time for group prayer. My team used to have weekly prayer meetings in campus. We did it on Monday afternoons. We pray for all ministry concerns. (Now, I’m working on bringing this habit back). And the fruits of our prayers? Successful fellowship gatherings as evidenced by increase in attendance, a strong campus team, and a band of transformed lives.
If meeting physically seems difficult, you may select a common time where everybody will halt for a moment and pray.
2. Expect answered (and unanswered) prayers. When the prayers of the believers were answered, they did not believe it initially (see Acts 12:15). So this serves as a reminder that we should prepare our hearts for our prayers to be answered.
I also believe that it would be right that we also prepare ourselves for unanswered prayers. This should not discourage us. We may need more persistence or a realignment of our prayers to God’s will.
3. Celebrate answered prayers. People normally forget. So when our prayers are answered, take time to thank God.
I believe that when problems face us, we will start in prayer and end in prayer. We should never underestimate the power of corporate prayer.