God Honors United Prayer
By Wesley L. Duewel
There is unusual power in united prayer. God has planned for His people to join together in prayer, not only for Christian fellowship, spiritual nurture, and growth, but also for accomplishing His divine purposes and reaching His chosen goals.
United prayer can occur in the regular services of the church at periods when all join in intercession. Alas, often so little time is given during worship services for united intercession. No part of the service has greater potential for blessing than when the congregation takes time for united prevailing intercession for definite needs.
It is a tremendous responsibility to lead God's people to God's throne and into God's presence in public prayer. God can so strongly anoint the one who leads in prayer that all present are brought into consciousness of God's presence until the one praying is forgotten and the people as one in heart and soul unite and agree in the prayer.
Special united prayer meetings can be convened. Prayer meetings have been held from the earliest days of the church. The ten days between Christ's ascension and Pentecost were largely given to united prayer. The believers then met together daily for prayer (Acts 2:42).
When Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin and threatened because of the healing of the crippled beggar, they returned to the group of believers, who engaged in such united prevailing prayer that the place where they were meeting was physically shaken, and again the believers were "all filled with the Holy Spirit" (4:31). From then on, prayer times characterized the early church. Christ planned to build and extend His church through prayer meetings.
Many churches have traditionally had a midweek prayer meeting. In all too many of these meetings most of the time is given to singing, testimony, and Bible study or exposition, and a comparatively small amount of time is actually spent in intercession.
Many churches have a variety of midweek church activity alternatives. Various good subjects are taught and perhaps only one of these groups is designated a prayer group. Even there, the danger can be that so much time is spent talking about the listed needs that tragically little time is actually spent interceding.
United prayer can continue at much greater length at times specially set apart primarily for prayer. Special prayer services have been called for the express purpose of prevailing in prayer. Usually, thank God, such services are given almost entirely to prayer. One after another leads the group in prayer, or a larger group may divide up into small groups so that more people are actively praying the entire time set apart for prayer.
Blessings from United Prayer
Tremendous answers to prayer have resulted from gatherings for united prayer. In addition to the specific answers received, there are always great spiritual benefits, as all those praying learn to prevail more effectively.
1. The spirit of prayer is deepened. When one believer prays in the Spirit, God's holy fire and prayer passion works more deeply in others who are joining in prayer. By hearing the prayers of others, we can become more deeply convinced that we are praying in the will of God.
Said Finney, "Nothing is more calculated to beget a spirit of prayer than to unite in social prayer with one who has the Spirit himself."
The two most effective ways to learn to prevail in prayer are by spending much time prevailing in prayer yourself and by praying with someone who truly prevails in prayer.
2. Love of the brethren and unity are intensified. The more you pray together, the more you sense each other's heartbeat, burdens, joy in the Lord, and Christian experience. To quote from Finney again, "Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer."
Apart from personal sin, nothing is more certain to hinder prevailing prayer than disunity. Disunity in a home hinders the prayer of the members of the home (1 Pet. 3:7). Disunity in a church hinders the prayers of the church. There are many scriptural injunctions to maintain unity in the church (Rom. 12:16, 18; 14:19; 15:5-7; 1 Cor. 1:10; 7:15; 2 Cor. 2:11; Heb. 11:14).
Many a church has experienced revival when God brought members of the church into unity. Many years ago in the central section of India, a missionary was praying to God to send revival to the work where he was involved. As he prayed earnestly day after day, the Holy Spirit brought to his mind another missionary in his own organization with whom he had had a serious disagreement. Every time he got down on his knees to pray, the other missionary's face came before him.
Finally, he boarded the train and went down to the town where the other missionary lived. He walked from the train station to the missionary's house and knocked on the door. The other missionary came to the door, surprised to see him.
Falling on his knees outside the door, the first missionary began to ask forgiveness from the other. "Come on in," the second missionary pleaded. "I'm the one who needs to ask your forgiveness."
They prayed together and wept together and were fully reconciled. Then each prayed for God to send revival to the other's work. As they separated, each began to pray daily for God to send revival to his own work and to the work of the other. Within twelve months both churches experienced mighty revival.
God will not be mocked. We cannot prevail in prayer while disunity festers. As much as is in our power, we must seek to humble ourselves, take the blame and restore unity (Matt. 5:23-24; Rom. 12:18).
3. Faith is strengthened. The more you hear others joining in prayer for the same needs, the stronger your faith tends to become. You become encouraged by the way God is giving faith to them. You become more persevering and more constant in prayer for the needs as you find others persevering for the same concern.
Heart warms heart. Prayer kindles prayer. Faith strengthens faith. Courage and expectancy rise, and you are able to plant your feet on God's promises with new firmness and determination. Others "amen" your prayer, and you "amen" theirs, and step by step you both grow in assurance, lay hold of the throne of God, and are able to agree in prayer (Matt. 18:19).
4. Spiritual power is multiplied. As you pray together, the prayer of each helps deepen the hunger for God's answer and helps fan into flame the spirit of prayer. Love and unity are intensified, purified, and made more blessed. Faith for God's answer is strengthened. All who unite in prayer begin to sense God's power coming upon them and anointing their praying in a new way.
As others reach out to God, you are helped to reach out more effectively. As you realize how heartbroken others are over the need, your compassion is moved, and your desire deepens to see God meet the need. As you realize how others are prevailing, you are so blessed that you too prevail more effectively. Very often God's refreshing, blessing and power come in a new way, collectively, to a group, an experience the believers had at Pentecost and in Acts 4.
There is s spiritual dynamic hinted at in the Bible that when two or more people prevail together in faith, praying in the Spirit, their prayer power not only is added together, it seems multiplied. Moses referred to one of Israel's people, by God's help, chasing a thousand of their enemies, and two, ten thousand (Deut. 32:30). Again, He promised that five would chase a hundred, and a hundred, ten thousand (Lev. 26:8).
The shout in united faith of Gideon's three hundred, although they were armed with nothing but flaming torches, completely routed the vast armies of Midian. By the same principle, united faith, singing, and praise so confused Satan and the combined forces of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir that they were completely annihilated without a physical battle being fought by Israel (2 Chr. 20).
United prayer backing was what Paul so much desired. In his letters he pleads that the believers unite with him in prayer for his life and ministry. To the Romans: "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me" (Rom. 15:30).
To the Corinthians he expressed his confidence: "He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many" (2 Cor. 1:10-11).
To the Philippians Paul wrote, "I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance" (Phil. 1:19).
To the Colossians: "Devote yourselves to prayer...and pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message" (Col. 4:2-3). And to the Thessalonians: "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored" (2 Thes. 3:1).
Examples from Christian History
William Carey and a small praying band in Kettering, England, prayed monthly for nearly eight years before mighty revival came. William Wilberforce was used of God to bring moral and spiritual awakening to England. He had the backing of a group in his church that covenanted to pray three hours a day.
John Livingstone and a group from his church in Shotts, Scotland, spent all of Saturday night in prayer, and the next day five hundred were saved as a result of his sermon.
Jonathan Edwards had a group of his members at Enfield, Massachusetts, who were deeply burdened that God not pass them by while He was sending revival to other places. They became so burdened that they met one Saturday evening and spent the whole night in prayer. The same night Jonathan Edwards was so burdened that he spent the whole night in prayer.
The next day his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" was greatly anointed by the Holy Spirit. God gripped some so strongly that they grabbed the pillars of the church, feeling that their feet were slipping into hell. Edwards then issued a call for Christians to join in meetings of united prayer across New England until God visited them with revival. God sent revival.
George Whitefield, so mightily used of God in the early 1700's, called for people to join in united meetings of prevailing prayer. Spurgeon led a prayer meeting every Monday night, which usually had at least 1,000 to 1,200 in attendance.
Charles Finney repeatedly spent one or more days in fasting and payer. He was used by God mightily in Boston in 1856 and in various New England cities in 1857-58.
Noon united prayer meetings usually without preaching, began in Boston and spread across the country in almost every major city and in many smaller cities. Over a million were won to Christ and joined local churches in two years time.
During D. L. Moody's campaigns in Oxford and Cambridge, he was opposed by such lawless rowdyism of the university students that it was impossible to hear the gospel singing of Sankey or the messages of Moody. Moody gathered three hundred godly women of Cambridge in Alexander Hall for a time of nothing but prevailing prayer. One after another pleaded with tears for "some mother's son."
That night the tide turned, as a hush from God came upon the service. Scores of students humbled themselves before God, confessed their sins, and found salvation. Moody referred to this as the greatest victory of his life.
Course of a Nation Changed
A number of years ago it seemed that Communism was going to take over Mexico. Education was based on atheism. Night after night radio stations poured blasphemy over the land. Tension gripped hearts.
Then a group of Christian leaders met together to seek God's answer. They decided to meet each morning at 6:30 for prayer and to hold on until deliverance came. For months this group of prayer warriors prayed every morning.
"They found themselves in a mighty conflict with the powers of darkness. They wrestled not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers." They represented many denominations, but all were united in seeking God. For six months they prayed with strong crying and tears.
Then one morning while they were praying, a pastor came into the room with a newspaper. Its headlines told that the president of the country had dismissed the Communists from the cabinet – the nation was being turned right about face. God had changed the course of a nation by united prayer.
The Friends Missionary Prayer Band movement in India is reported to have five hundred weekly prayer bands, most of which fast and pray all night one night each week for God to move in India. More than twenty thousand lay Christians are involved in this prayer movement.
David Bryant reports that Korean pastor Yonggi Cho spends an hour and a half in private prayer each morning and that from 10:30 P.M. Friday till 6:00 A.M. Saturday at least fifteen thousand of his members meet for united prayer. The rest of his members meet in twenty thousand prayer cells across Seoul.
J. Edwin Orr, historian of revival worldwide, stated, "No great spiritual awakening has begun anywhere in the world apart from united prayer – Christians persistently praying for revival."
– Quoted from Mighty Prevailing Prayer by Wesley L. Duewel. Copyright 1990. Used by permission of the Duewel Literature Trust, Inc., Greenwood, Indiana. Dr. Duewel’s books may be purchased by calling (317) 881-6751 Ext. 361.