When I was in the waiting room at Sunnybrook a few days ago, someone from our community asked me a great question, point blank: does having more people praying affect God in some way?
So….that’s a big one. After all, our instinct in praying is to want to get as many people praying for a person or about an issue as possible. In this era of mass email, you don’t have to be a Christian long to get a "prayer chain" email begging you to forward a request to everyone in your in-box. So does more people praying about an event affect the outcome of a situation?
To be perfectly candid, I’m not 100% sure. What I say next is going to sound like a contradiction: I think the answer is "no", but I am very much in favour of people praying together. What on earth do I mean? Hang on — I know got some ‘splaining to do.
I say no because the Bible is chalk full of examples of one person praying prayers that God found very effective and influential. Abraham completed arrested God’s attention all by himself when he pleaded for Sodom and Gomorrah not to be destroyed (interestingly enough, God still destroyed the cities in the end, but saved Abraham’s family because of his dialogue with Abraham). Daniel appears to have influenced heaven all by himself, and Jesus pointed to a widow who single-handedly wanted to bang down the door of heaven.
What bothers me most about modern prayer is that I feel like we use it as a way to manipulate God, not as a way to honour him, submit to him or worship him. Basically, I think we want to control God. And that’s just not biblical. In the Bible, people dialogued with God, but they submitted to him.
Praying regularly, and constantly can do many helpful things for us:
- It points us to the mystery of God…that much of life is still beyond our control, and yet like a parent loves to hear a child ask for things, God takes pleasure in hearing the deepest longing of our hearts. And sometimes, maybe, that influences what happens in the heavens in ways we don’t (and probably shouldn’t) fully understand.
- It points us to our reliance on God.. that really we really can learn to trust him.
- It deepens our trust in God…when you really spend time with Christ, you see the goodness of God.
- When we pray together, it reminds us of what unites all of us.
At Connexus, we see our community groups as the main forum in which we pray together. And I know last week and this week, literally hundreds of people gathered in community groups were lifting up prayers covering topics too many to mention. Somehow, that’s just good.