Apr 14, 2011

Some Practical Suggestions on Corporate Prayer (by Stephen Kaung)

And they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in breaking of bread and prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

“And having been let go, they came to their own [company], and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.And they, having heard [it], lifted up [their] voice with one accord to God,” (Acts 4:23-24a)

We find that at the beginning of the church on earth, they emphasized very much on two things. They persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles in breaking of bread and prayers. The teaching and the fellowship of apostles are nothing but the teaching and fellowship of God’s Son Jesus Christ. There are two things that will express the teaching and fellowship of apostles best and these are breaking of bread and prayers. Therefore, we find from the very early the church did two things, breaking of bread and prayers. Of course, the prayers here are not personal, private prayers. We do not break bread alone. We break bread with our brothers and sisters. So you find that the prayers here do not refer to our personal, private prayer. It is when God’s children come together to pray together. Now we call this church prayer or corporate prayer.

There are certain basic principles that govern both private prayers and corporate prayers. Of course we know that we have to pray with burden. We have to pray out of our spirit. And we have to pray according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. These are common principles that govern both our private prayers and our corporate prayers.

But there are some differences between private prayers and corporate prayers. Because if it is personal, private prayer, you just pray whatever you are burdened with. You can pray every burden that may be out of your heart. You can pray for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for the church , and for the world. As much as you are burdened with, you can pour out your heart before the Lord. So you alone are responsible to discharge your burdens in prayers.

But the church come together to pray. We are all together, and yet even though we are together, we pray as one. So you find in the Scripture that phrase “in one accord” when two agree in the Lord, so this matter of one accord is very important. It means that when we come together, we need to lay our burdens aside, and open our hearts to the burden of church so that our burdens may be the same. And not only our burdens are the same, but we pray for our burdens together. It is like a symphony. You have a number of musicians playing together. They may be playing different instruments but they are not playing independently of each other. They play together as one. So you find that their playing is with one accord under the direction of the music master.

Now we who are the Lord’s when come together to pray, no matter how many we are, we are praying together as a symphony. And we are under the direction of the Holy Spirit. So as we open our hearts to the Lord, lay our private burdens aside, learn to accept the burden of the church. May be in the beginning of a corporate prayer, the brother in responsibility will share with us what the church is burdened with in these recent days and then we all try to take up these burdens and be guided by the Holy Spirit to pray with one accord.

To put it in another way, you are not going to pray all the burdens that have been mentioned. I have been attending many prayer meetings. I find that there are some places where when burdens are being mentioned and we began to pray. And one brother or one sister will pray all the burdens that have been mentioned. So it leaves the other ones to repeat the same things over and over again. That is not praying with one accord.

You know there is a difference between personal prayer and corporate prayer. In corporate prayer, you learn to pray just that part that the Holy Spirit seems to burden you especially. And you leave the other parts of the same burden to the other brothers and sisters under the direction of the Holy Spirit. And then you find that when we pray over this matter one after another. When we feel that the burden has been discharged, then we can go to the next item. And at the same time, you find different brothers and sisters will pray only that particular point they are burdened with. We pray until we feel that the burden has been discharged. So you find that you are not praying all by yourself. You are praying with your brothers and sisters, and with one accord.

Now in order to do that, it is important that we should pray short and not too long. I heard of a place when they come together to pray. When the burdens are mentioned, then there are four brothers and sisters, every one prays for twenty minutes and they pray over all the things again and again. And because of this, I heard that several brothers and sisters go to sleep. Now that is not corporate prayer. Corporate prayer is that everyone is burdened and everyone has the opportunity to discharge that burden. So you have to pray short prayers, concentrated prayers.

You do not need to repeat all the formality. If one brother has done the formality, you do not need to do it again. We are already in the presence of the Lord. So you just pray what impress you most. That is enough. The all round prayer is done by all the brothers and sisters. It is not done by you alone. Now because our time is limited. So I think it is evident that we have to pray short, concentrated and focused prayers.

And when we pray, we need to in touch with the Holy Spirit. When one burden has been fully discharged, you sense it within yourself. And then we can go as the Spirit leads to the second one.

And then because we are praying together, so you have to pray loud enough to be heard. In private prayer, you can pray silently or you can just murmur with it. But in corporate prayer, you have to pray aloud enough. When you kneel down to pray, and if you pray towards the ground, and your voice will hit the floor and other people may not hear you, especially with the older ones. Now I have the problem with hearing, even with my hearing aid. Unless you pray aloud enough, I cannot hear you. Oftentimes, in the church when we are praying, I only hear a few prayers. Most of the prayers I just cannot hear. And if I cannot hear, I find it difficult to join in because I don’t know what they are praying. So when we are praying, our voice should reach out to other people. So it is better when you are praying, lift up your head and lift up your voice. Now it is not because when you pray quietly, God cannot hear. It is because you have brothers and sisters with you, then they can say “Amen” with you. And that is corporate prayer.

I find in some places when people pray, you almost cannot hear anything. But I can hear people say “Amen, Amen” all the time. They say “Amen” by faith, because they can’t hear anything. Now it is better if you can hear it and say “Amen”. Then you find that we really pray as one together.

And another thing I find is helpful. In many places I find that when people mention the items of prayer, they ask everybody what is in your heart. So you find there are so many things to pray for. Not only things that concern the whole church, but even personal things. And they try to cover all these things. And they find that time is so limited. They just cannot really pray as they should. So it is better if we can be more concentrated. Now this is not a rule but I think it is a good way. That is, if there are only two or three things that we can center upon that we are able to pray thoroughly.

So these are a few practical suggestions. Of course, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The above message was transcribed and edited from the recording of Stephen Kaung's sharing in a prayer meeting on August 19, 2010.

Related post:  
Corporate Prayer : by Lance Lambert