Originally posted in July 2011. Author: Tony Cash
There are many good books on prayer, this article does not set out to address the topic of prayer itself, rather to describe the importance of group prayer and prayer networks. Prayer first and foremost is conversation; therefore two or more people are always involved. Conversation should be two way, else the speaker may be talking to himself if at least an acknowledgment is not received. Even when we pray alone as Jesus did, Father, Holy Spirit and often angels are involved in the conversation. In fact as born again believers we are never alone. Jesus promised that we His followers would never be left alone John 14:18, His Spirit would always be with us, even to the very end of the age Matt 28:20. These promises of God can not be broken; so be encouraged by it when things seem to be all against you.
Prayer is all about relationship; it is more than cold communications. Prayer can be considered to be the life blood of our relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Furthermore God has a wonderful vision of all His believers being and acting as parts of a single body, the body of Christ. This vision was given to Paul, he describes it in his letter to the Colossians Col 1:18, Christ is the head of the body and we are the members. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul sees the Jews and the Gentiles united in Him (Christ) as one new man Eph 2:11-3:12. This vision pictures us as interdependent upon each other and all dependent upon Christ our head. If this is a metaphor for the spiritual unity we are intended to enjoy, then our prayer life must include group prayer. Group prayer can have a dynamic that can change nations. In Acts chapter 2 we see that the disciples were all together in one place when they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit; but later in Acts 4:32, 33 we see that the believers were one in heart and mind, and great power was on them. The prayer of agreement avails much. Hebrews encourages us not to stop assembling together. In the book of Acts we read that the believers met together, they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, breaking of bread and to prayer. In Acts 12 we read about the fifth persecution of Peter when he was released by an angel from chains in prison with a guard set over him. He quickly went to the house of Mary where the brethren were gathered to prayer for him. Group prayer can bring about release from prison and indeed any other persecution. When we are together to pray it seems to increase our boldness in prayer. Next when we are together to pray the LORD seems to speak to the whole group through several people. He is often quite economical with both His words and His actions. We are all encouraged to prophesy and to seek the gift of prophecy; however when we are together, those who have a developed prophetic gift can encourage others. I say this because we always need to hear from the LORD. The call to be an intercessor will always include a measure of the prophetic gift. It is important that intercessors join a prayer group where this gift is encouraged and developed.
Early in 2011 we went to a meeting in Emmanuel Church Westminster where Clifford Hill was speaking. He shared the vision that he had for England in 2011. He described 2011 as a pivotal time for the nation. Two events happened last year that made this year so important. Firstly the financial crash of 2009 was now producing the loss of many jobs and this process was likely to continue throughout 2011. The second event was the passing of the Equalities bill in Parliament in October 2010. This bill has the potential to be very harmful to the Christian church. Test cases are likely to occur starting this year, with individuals being brought before the courts on terribly unjust charges. These two factors will pressurise the church and are likely to cause us to wake up and start to fight our corner more effectively. But most of all we will be thrown onto the LORD for His divine help. Clifford had sought the LORD for His strategy. He believes that the prayer groups and networks must start to connect right across the nation. Our ears pricked up at this statement since the LORD has been forming a network across the county of Oxfordshire since 2005. The vision for “PrayOxfordshire” has developed quite slowly but the faithfulness of the intercessors has grown steadily. Secondly without any thought or actions ourselves the Lord has connected us to groups of intercessors in Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. These links have already been useful in strategic prayer campaigns, which I will not detail here.
Others have been involved on organising large prayer events like “Trumpet Call” in the NEC Birmingham. These gatherings are very useful for galvanising the intercessors and encouraging them to increased activity. Also at the meeting in Emmanuel was Rev Jonathan Oliyedu who has been very active in prayer campaigns in London and the south east. He backed Clifford’s word by calling for the prayer networks to connect with one another. It seems that we are all on the same page with the LORD. In the early church Paul was regularly asking different churches to provide help for other churches: financial, ministry and prayer. His letters to the churches always included greetings from and to a variety of servants of the LORD, for example Romans 16. Clearly he was very mindful of the need to expand our vision of the church to be global not just city wide or parish wide. Hence he could see the need for networks linking the groups of believers across the Roman world. In Great Britain we need to have a national perspective of the church, not just for our denomination but for all believers and followers of Jesus the Son of God. So! How do we build a prayer network across the nation?
Step one is to ask the LORD to open doors for you and bring you in touch with His people who He wants you to connect with. Divine connections will last and become fruitful. If we seek the people we like or admire we may be building our own network not God’s. Make every effort to develop friendships. This may not always be easy, God’s people are often very busy people. One way that we have found helpful is to invite them to dinner and a time of fellowship. Ask the Lord for His gift of hospitality, the ability to put people at ease. Conversation over good food really helps to ignite friendship and trust. The Jewish festivals were all about family and friendship gatherings around a feast. The Lord’s supper was in fact a passover meal. In the book of Acts we see the early church coming together and sharing everything in common. Sharing food is a wonderful experience.
Step two is to arrange a time to pray together. Be full of love and grace towards each other. Be ready to make space for others to exercise their gifting, and be ready to exercise your gifts when opportunity arises. Avoid the temptation to dominate the prayer yourself, rather have a servant heart. As time goes by trust and confidence will rise. Seek every opportunity to agree in prayer. Agreement in prayer is more than mental assent, it is heart agreement, a true spiritual agreement, it is a bold yes and amen.
Step three is to seek to maintain good relations; be available to encourage your contacts and to cover them whenever they request help. If time drifts and the contact grows weak return to step one and repair the net.
The vision that I see is one of guerilla warriors, highly trained soldiers formed into small bands. The members of each band know the (spiritual) weapons of our warfare and how to use them. Each band has radio (spiritual) contact with the King of kings for clear daily instructions. In addition each band knows the nearby bands. However they do not need to know the details of other bands at greater distance from them. This limited knowledge protects the network from the work of traitors and fifth column infiltration. Each group or band is less likely to be seduced by “power” if confidentiality is maintained and the level of influence in the net is limited. Each band is like a knot in a net with contacts to each of the surrounding knots. Messages can ripple through the net without compromising security too much. The line of command is direct to the captain of the host. If we truly ask the Lord for the contacts, He will set up the communication channels that He wants. If He chooses to connect you to a group some distance away, that is His business, after all He knows exactly what He is doing, He will have a good reason, which will be made plain in His good time.
Prayer: Lord please refresh the anointing on your people to pray effectively and guide us daily with clear instructions. We want to do your will and see Great Britain fulfil your plans and purposes.