Light on the Rock Blogs
Power of Group Prayer - Acts 12:1-5, 7-12
Many of you who have been students of God’s word for many years know that our Savior, Jesus the Christ, taught us to pray in private (Matthew 6:5-6). He said to find a private room – and there open our hearts to our heavenly Abba, our father in heaven. Prayer, especially when it can be heard and seen by others, can sometimes become a show otherwise. Or we can become self-conscious.
We also have numerous examples of Yeshua himself rising early and praying in private. Sometimes he would go up a hill in the magnificent creation and there commune with the Almighty (Matthew 14:23). Even in his most agonizing hours in Gethsemane, he moved some distance from his disciples while he went to pray alone (Matthew 26:36-39). Peter prayed in private on a housetop! (Acts 10:14).
Even in times of spectacular healings, though there are many examples of healings taking place in public, there are also examples of the man of God preferring to be private as he prays for the dead or sick person. Elisha closed the door behind him before praying for the lad whom God resurrected (2 Kings 4:33). Peter, when doing the same with Dorcas (also called Tabitha), also put everyone out and then knelt and prayed (Acts 9:40).
So I begin this blog about group prayer by being sure you, my readers, know that I understand that most of our praying time should be in private. I love to pray outside in the beautiful gardens and park-like yard our Father has given us. Other times, I beseech God Most High beside my bed as I speak to – and listen to – dear Abba.
But there’s power when many of God’s people come together in special times of beseeching Him. Scripture is clear on this also. Especially in times of deep trial and pain that affect the whole group.
I know many in the organizations I have been a part of who never come together to pray as a group for someone’s healing or for our dear Abba’s intervention in times of serious trial (with the exception of opening and closing prayer at church services or asking the blessing over the meal). They cling to those verses about praying in private and not to be seen – and so they would never be seen praying in a group, with a group. And yet scripture is clear: there are times we could be experiencing great blessings that come from group prayer… coming together as one body, and together beseeching our dear Abba and our Messiah.
For example in Acts 12, we can read of how Herod – during the days of Unleavened Bread – arrested two top apostles, James and Peter, with the intent of gaining popularity with the majority Jews who hated the apostles, by executing them. Look what’s said:
Acts 12:1-5 “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”
As we’ll find out shortly, in this case, constant prayer wasn’t just offered individually in everyone’s own private room in their own homes. Oh no. The believers came together in someone’s home and prayed together for hours and hours. Verse 12 says “MANY were gathered together praying.” Many! In Mary’s house, the mother of Mark. Read all of Acts 12 yourself. My question: would you and I have been there with them?
Now we don't know if the execution of James was quick and sudden – without warning, or was there prior imprisonment like Peter’s case? We just don’t know. But I’ve often wondered: IF James had also been imprisoned first, there is no statement that the church made constant intercessory prayer for him. Maybe they had no chance to, for its suddenness. I grant that possibility. But IF he had been imprisoned first, could it be that the brethren could have assumed that God surely would protect James, with or without their prayers? I hope I’m wrong in even wondering about that.
But you know the rest of the story, and how Peter was miraculously delivered after the church kept up their praying around-the-clock for Peter. They gathered together, several together in one place, to pray. You know Mark of the gospels? It was in his mom’s home – Mary the mother of John Mark the gospel writer, assistant to Peter – where they gathered.
I have to wonder: would we be reading the inspiring story of Acts 12 if they had not prayed together, as one body? I don’t know. But it’s an intriguing question, isn’t it? Maybe our Abba would have done exactly the same thing if they had all decided to just pray privately, individually, at home. But the story we have is that God stepped in as they prayed together, as a group!
If you’re uncomfortable with the notion, stretch a bit. Start small. Sometimes, if not all the time, have one prayer with your spouse perhaps at bedtime or when you both get up. Add a child, if available. Now you have a group of three. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I AM THERE in the midst of them”, Jesus taught (Matthew 18:20).
Certainly there are many examples of the power of brethren coming together to pray as on together.
I know, I know, our Master tells us to go into our “closet” or private area when we pray and that we are to avoid praying in a way where we could be seen by others and therefore have them all feel we are a “man or woman of prayer”. Certainly that’s all true for our daily, personal prayer time. But there are just too many examples of awesome deliverance when God’s people got together to pray together, as one.
My wife and I normally pray by ourselves, apart from one another. But when someone is very ill or needs a miracle or answer from heaven, we will bow and kneel before Yahweh our Healer and together raise that person in prayer to the throne of grace and mercy and petition Abba for him or her.
The early believers were terrific about group prayer. There’s another example in Acts 4:23-32. The apostles had been threatened by the council for preaching in the name of Yeshua (Jesus), so they went to their spiritual brothers and sisters and shared their plight.
Acts 4:23-24 “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them…..”
Now keep reading. After their group prayer as one voice and one accord:
Acts 4:31-32 “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul….”
Our Almighty God clearly gave his blessing on that assembly praying together. Please ponder that. Be willing to follow their example! Be willing to stretch when you need to, to try things in the Bible that you maybe never have. Like praying in a group once in a while. Now I don’t believe in daily group prayers either. But in times of trial and stress, yes, come together and together beseech God in earnest prayer. Stretch a bit. Do it. Try it. Another stretch for you to try new things might be to raise holy hands in prayer (1 Timothy 2:8).
Another case of group prayer so pleasing to God – of many – is found in 2 Chronicles 20, where King Jehoshaphat of Judah prayed with a large crowd of people for God Most High’s intervention and protection. Jerusalem was surrounded by innumerable enemy soldiers.
2 Chronicles 20:3-4 “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek YHVH, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from YHVH; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek YHVH. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of YHVH, before the new court…” and prayed with the group. Notice it clearly was a group.
Verse 13 – “Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before YHVH.”
Can you imagine what it must have been like? Have you ever been a part of something like this? And wow! Did their God ever answer! You can read it for yourself in verses 14-19. And the people all bowed their heads as they worshiped Almighty. The next day YHVH worked a great miracle in their behalf.
The power of the group acting as one, together. Putting differences aside. Loving one another and loving the living God as we pray and trust him – together.
There are more examples. Read Esther 4. When Esther heard of Haman’s plans to ethnic-cleanse the Jews, here’s what this great woman said:
Esther 4:15-17 Then Esther told them to tell Mordecai: “Go gather ALL the Jews present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”
They may or may not have come together in one place during those 3 days of fasting, but it is certain they prayed and fasted at least at the same time, for the same purpose. It does say they were to “GATHER” together and fast. And did God ever hear that praying and fasting? Indeed! (And by the way, when was the last time we each fasted?) I believe your brethren in southwest Kenya in Isebania fast monthly for prayer needs and requests. May our God bless them and provide answers.
Why not try praying together as a group for some urgent requests and also for praise and thanksgiving? For those of you who have been doing this already, terrific. For some of you, this may be a new experience. We can all come together decently and in order, and then one after another can take turns leading in prayer as all the others assent in prayer and their “amen”. We can also come together to someone’s home as they did in Acts 12, perhaps some of the time spent in private prayer in the various rooms of the house—and at times come together as a body of one. Hold hands, bow your heads and pray as one soul, as one body led by His One Spirit. You will sense the anointing of God’s spirit as you do this when you do it to seek HIM – and not for any human show. I know this kind of group praying is not commonplace in some circles, but so what!? It’s Biblical. SO do it!
It’s exciting when you feel the presence of Holy Spirit in your midst. There IS power when many of God’s children come together to pray to Him as one. Many – as one. Together, unitedly, harmoniously, humbly. Experience this powerful way of coming before God: as a group coming to him as one body.
Yes, most of the time – pray in secret, in private, just you and Abba as His Spirit Jesus Christ intercedes with and for you (Romans 8:26-27, 33-34). But be open to the power of the group prayer too!
I’d love to hear from some of you who will stretch and try this. Please share your stories and experiences with me. May our wonderful Abba and His Son bless each of you mightily.
Your article highlights something invaluable that we, in the Church of God community, might sometimes overlook or underutilize. Group prayer not only deepens our connection with God but also strengthens our bonds with one another.
Thank you for shedding light on this essential aspect of our faith and encouraging us to tap into the transformative potential of coming together in prayer. It serves as a poignant call to action for us all. Keep up the excellent work!