Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The intimacy (and power) of shared prayer

Kierkegaard says, “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays." I agree, but think it possibly goes even further.

Every Tuesday evening I attend a men's Bible Study. I am the youngest one there (by far) and I don't know any of the other guys, but I noticed something last night that was quite striking to me. Every time we gather, we pray for one another. It usually takes about 30 minutes and we pray for the person to our right or left. Everyone prays, and everyone is prayed for. What struck me last night was the 'connection' that is established between the prayer and the prayed-for.

Anyone who has ever been in love (or even "in lust") knows the power of intimacy. Aside from the sexual nature, the bond of intimacy has spurred people to great sacrifice and astonishing heights of achievement. Whether it be traveling long distances for a chat, spending loads of money, or the orchestrated teamwork of athletic accomplishment... there is power in a bond of closeness/togetherness. Praying with someone can have the same result.

I find it interesting how, after someone prays for me, I tend to think of them differently. It's like they know me a little better. When I pray for someone else, in their presence, it's the same thing. Even with those you may have differences with, something happens when we pray together. It's hard to hate someone you lift into the presence of God. I would guess it's harder still when God enters your midst. What was it Jesus said, "For where 2 or 3 gather in my name, there I am with them." (Mt. 18:20).

So, I was just thinking... imagine if we prayed for our enemies. Or were able to pray WITH them! Hmm... Or - if you're married - if you prayed together with your spouse. Jane and I have from time to time, but honestly, we're not very good about keeping at it. I just think it naturally lends itself to greater intimacy, and the power that comes from that could create bonds and break down barriers like we may never have dreamt possible. At least that's what I think.