Mt 6:9a,11 “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven…Give us this day our daily bread.”
When is the last time that your lips said/your ears heard the following statement: “Let us pray…”? WE need to remember that prayer is not intended by God to be exclusively a private experience. As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally. Why? If the substance of prayer is to continue a conversation with God, and if the purpose of it is to know God better, then this can happen best in community.
C. S. Lewis argues that it takes a community of people to get to know an individual person. Reflecting on his own friendships, he observed that some aspects of one of his friend’s personality were brought out only through interaction with a second friend. That meant if he lost the second friend, he lost the part of his first friend that was otherwise invisible.
“By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.” If it takes a community to know an ordinary human being, how much more necessary would it be to get to know Jesus alongside others? By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.
That is why, Lewis thinks, that the angels in Isaiah 6 are crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another. Each angel is communicating to all the rest the part of the glory it sees. Knowing the Lord is communal and cumulative, we must pray and praise together. That way “the more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”
The Christian who has not learned or prefers to not pray outside of their prayer closet is missing out on much of the multifaceted God they are seeking. This kind of intercessory existence is largely out of step with the precedents of God’s biblically-recorded relationships with Israel and the church. Could the one dimensional perspective you have on God or the leanness of your own soul be the result of privatizing prayer in a less than Christlike manner?
If it has been awhile since you have heard or verbalized “Let us pray,” change that narrative this week. Find people and places where you can enter into corporate prayer more deeply and consistently to know God is a whole new, thrilling manner. (This could start with your marriage, your family, your church, your coworker.) If you can’t find a prayer meeting, start one and watch the promise of Christ in Matthew 18:20 materialize right before your eyes, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”