“They all joined constantly in prayer.”
It’s a perplexing thing to me that prayer is done in community. It’s easy to assume that prayer is talking to God and hearing from him, like a two-way conversation. And prayer certainly is that….
But why do we still pray with others?
Our individualistic Western worldview can reduce our life with God to solely a personal matter. Prayer is just between “Him and I.” Such thinking implies I don’t need to pray with anyone, nor do I need to be prayed with. God and I are bros. We’re buddies. We’re life-long pals. It’d be weird to invite anyone else into it. And before we know it, our relationship with God becomes like our first romantic relationship in high school: Exclusive, completely isolated from the outside world, kissing all our other friendships good-bye, because they don’t give us all the feels that our new boo does.
Life with God is to be lived with others. If prayer was reserved for one-on-one conversation with the Almighty, then we wouldn’t ever need to share prayer requests at our small group meetings, intercede for the hurting stranger, or ask to be prayed over during major life decisions and minor life annoyances. Nobody would ask to be prayed over, because it should be their responsibility to ask God about it themselves, alone.
As soon as prayer is taken out of our friendships, the potential for depth plummets dramatically. There is no surer way to deepen your friendship than for your souls to reach out to the Holy Spirit on each other’s behalf, intermingle with the life of the Trinity, and recognize Christ’s presence in your midst—and maybe even recognize your presence in Christ’s midst.
That’s what prayer in community does. It extends beyond the earthly nature of our friendships and plunges into the rich spring of life with God together. Everything worth doing alone is worth inviting our friends into from time to time.
Life with God is best with others.