So…why pray together?
Some of you who have finished “Dangerous Prayer,” Whitney Putnam’s Nehemiah study,* may be thinking about prayer in a new light. Bold. Repentant. Promise-driven. Confident. Purposeful. (Whether you have or have not, now might be a good time to read Nehemiah 1:1-11a.)
Did Nehemiah go to Jerusalem and singlehandedly rebuild Jerusalem’s wall? Even if we never heard of a guy named Nehemiah, most of us can answer that question. Nope. In chapter two, Nehemiah (with the authority of his king) goes straight to Jerusalem. What does he do first?
“So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me.” (Nehemiah 2:11-12a)
Shortly after, he gathers his people. From a purely practical standpoint, this project required lots of people power. But there’s another big reason why Nehemiah could not do this work alone. Enemies.
The Horonites. The Ammonites. The Arabs. The people of Ashdod. In other words, there was a strong opposition. As we consider the broken nature of Christianity today (and truthfully, my own Christian walk), one thing is obvious:
We have an enemy. Right now, in the 21st century. And he hates prayers and he hates pray-ers.
I’m not saying this to make you afraid. I’m saying this to make you bold. Band together! Prayer ultimately involves warfare. We are behind enemy lines here; this is a fallen world. And what does the Bible advise? Ephesians 6:10-13 says:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Grammar alert! Though the pronoun “you” can be singular or plural, it is clear in context that Paul is talking to the Ephesians as a group, not as individuals. Notice the “we” in verse 12.
Take a moment to visualize the armor. It includes a belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and a sword. Each piece is designed first and foremost to cover the front of the warrior. Why? A soldier’s main function is to attack, not retreat. She doesn’t “back into a fight”; she moves forward.
But how are we protected if the enemy slips around behind us? Our fellow soldiers! We are to have one another’s backs. We do not fight well (escape injury or death) if we are on the battlefield alone.
In ancient times, a highly successful battle formation was the phalanx. This consisted of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder, each one holding his shield partially over himself and partially over the next soldier. This formation moved in unison, with spears, pikes, swords or axes lethally projecting in front. As the line marched forward, the phalanx struck terror into the hearts of its enemies.
No commander sends a single soldier into enemy territory. He sends troops, squads, platoons, brigades, battalions, companies. Nehemiah didn’t rebuild Jerusalem by himself; he called on fellow believers to join him. While some were building, others were guarding against attack. (Read Nehemiah 4:13-14.) They literally had one another’s backs. Together, believers can see great and miraculous things: broken cities can be reclaimed, nations can be united, the enemy can be routed.
A trumpet is sounding, and it’s playing reveille. Get up. Get on your armor. Gather your group. And,
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18)
What is your biggest obstacle to the idea of praying with others on a regular basis?
Pray about who will partner with you. Chances are, they are hearing from God, too.
Don’t be surprised if you encounter difficulties starting a prayer group. Remember, the Lord is so much greater than our enemy (or anything that comes against us.)
Do not be anxious or intimidated. As your group starts to form, pray for protection.
Dangerous Prayer Bible study can be found at: