Learn To Pray by Praying with Others
May 25, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part five in a multipart series about prayer. The elders of Oak Hills recently have been reading a book on prayer during their session meetings called Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches, by Megan Hill. This little book explores the biblical foundations, fruits, and practices of praying together. The elders have found it to be very encouraging and challenging. I want to share some gleanings from Hill’s book while adding some of my own observations about prayer.
Who taught you to pray?
More than likely it was a parent or a ministry leader at church. All of my children started to pray at a young age by just repeating the words my wife or I led them with. Then we taught them a basic order to follow, like the acronym ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication). Eventually, they have come to pray on their own and even lead others in prayer out loud.
After a certain point, though, the active teaching how to pray usually ends for all of us. How, then, are we to continue to grow and develop in our praying?
We learn to pray by following the examples of others. Megan Hill writes, “Praying together is a school for prayer” (p. 69). She goes on to demonstrate how praying with others not only provides models to follow in our praying, but also trains us in faith, theology, repentance, desires, and thankfulness. Essentially, praying with others is discipleship. Hill writes:
“I can think of no better – or simpler – discipleship program than for more mature and less mature believers to sit diligently under the preaching of the Word and then to pray together. I can also think of nothing more exciting. This was how you first learned the faith, this was how the members of the early church grew (Acts 2:42), this is how Christ is even now conforming to himself the saints in my own church, and it is how those around you will come to maturity too” (p. 80).
Are you attending the discipleship school of praying with others? Here are some practical suggestions to actively attend that school:
- Read Scripture as a Prayer Book. Alright, I admit that this first one seems to undermine the whole “praying together” challenge. But I believe it is an essential place to start (don’t stop here!). One of the most helpful pieces of advice I have ever received regarding prayer came from John Piper. “Pray Scripture,” he said, “I don’t know what to pray if I was left to myself, so I allow Scripture to guide and fill my prayers.” The Bible is full of saints praying. Listen to them. Learn from them. Copy them (Jesus did on the cross, quoting Psalm 22).
- Actively Pray Along with Whoever Leads Prayer at Church. Alright, perhaps this is another point that undermines the whole challenge to “pray together.” But, once again, don’t stop here. What should we do when a pastor or elder “leads in prayer” during a worship service? He leads the prayer while we actively listen to his supplications and affirm our agreement with his requests. It is to be the prayers of the congregation together. This time also provides for us an example of prayer that can shape and influence our own private prayers at a later time.
- Join with Others at Prayer Gatherings. Don’t disregard this as unnecessary. God has designed your salvation and spiritual growth to be interconnected with others in the body. Gathering with others for the sake of prayer will become a form of discipleship for you. Attend your church’s prayer gatherings (monthly at Oak Hills). Pray with others when you gather for Bible study or fellowship. Don’t minimize prayer time together as if it is unnecessary. Look for opportunities to pray with others.
Are you attending the discipleship school of praying with others?