Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19–20
There is great value in personal private prayer time with the Lord. Scripture encourages us to go “into your room, close the door and pray to your Father” (Matthew 6:6). This verse continues with a promise of reward for those who spend time in prayer. Spending intimate time with the Lord is one of the best ways of developing a personal love relationship with our heavenly Father. We grow in understanding who we are and who God is.
But it is not the only way the Lord calls for us to engage in prayer. Later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus directs his disciples to pray together. While Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded when we pray on our own, when we pray together in Jesus’ name the Lord promises that those prayers will be effective.
They are effective because there is unity and mutual submission. When I pray by myself it is just God and I. I can pray for whatever I want to pray for. But when I get together with a group to pray then we join together to pray about a specific topic. There is an immediate sense of unity, which comes from praying together. Everyone is engaged in prayer at the same time and there is mutual submission to one another as everyone prays together for a particular issue rather than everyone praying for what they want.
Praying together is effective because it becomes the body of Christ at work. God has given this body various gifts, which come together when we pray as a group. One person may bring a word of wisdom giving guidance to a situation, another may be bring a scripture to pray, or a picture or word of knowledge, all of which give shape, direction and fullness to the prayer. It requires trust to pray together and out of that trust greater fellowship follows. We draw near to God, but we also draw near to one another. Praying together produces koinonea; it builds community.
We need personal times of prayer to draw close to the Lord, to read and meditate on God’s Word. Out of that time we receive the personal reward of relationship with our Abba Father. Then as we join together in corporate prayer we unite in fellowship. Together our prayers become effective.