Jesus declares in Mark 11:17, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” A house of prayer is a dwelling place for God. A place where a community of believers abide in perfect communion and intimacy with the One they call their Lord and leader. A church that dialogues with God about everything and lives a lifestyle of dependence on him.
God does not desire for us to make prayer an add-on to specific ministries or a monologue of all the things we want from him. His desire is for every ministry within the body to be prayer-saturated. Out of a lifestyle of communion with God, the church receives all the plans, purposes and strategies that she needs to fulfill her mandate on earth.
In her book, The Prayer Saturated Church, Cheryl Sacks writes, “In a house of prayer, we see prayer saturating every aspect of individual and corporate church life. Communication with our Father is the lifeblood of the church—an indispensable pillar—without which God-given dreams, gifting and spiritual power lie dormant. In a house of prayer, talking and listening to God characterize worship services, business meetings and even informal social gatherings. The whole congregation is involved in a lifestyle of drawing near to him.”
A house of prayer is built for the presence of God to dwell in—not visit or look at but actually inhabit. As a result, God’s presence will spill over from the church into the community and we will see God’s power transform our churches, city, nation and world. When God’s people gather to pray, then Christ’s life, Christ’s desires, Christ’s affections flow through his body to a dying world.
Why is corporate prayer important?
- God commanded it (1 Tim. 2:1-2, 8; Col. 4:2-4, 12-13; Eph. 6:18-20; Mark 9:29).
- Christ modeled it with his disciples (Luke 11:1-9, 22:39-40, 45-46).
- Paul modeled it (Col. 1:9-10; Eph. 1:15-16).
- The early church practiced it (Acts 1:14, 2:42, 4:23-24, 31, 12:5 13:1-3, 16:25-27, 20:36-37).
- History confirms it.
Corporate prayer is the way in which God has chosen to bring about his plans and purposes on earth and also bring maturity and humility to his children.
“It is important at the outset to stress that this plan is of God and is an outworking of his sovereignty,” writes D. Butts in Forgotten Power. “He is the omnipotent God and could have devised any plan to bring about his purposes on this planet. In his sovereignty and wisdom, he chose prayer as his strategy. He chose to give mankind a role to play in accomplishing his purposes as a means of helping us grow to maturity.”
Corporate prayer is simply a group dialogue with God, founded in the Scriptures, empowered and led by the Holy Spirit and focusing on God’s desires for his church. Prayer originates with God and is all about God—the worship of God, the plans of God, the heart of God, the love of God … extended to his people. God is the one who reveals the topic (often done ahead of time through a leader) and then it is the Holy Spirit who leads and empowers the “concert” of prayer that aligns itself with the intercessions of Jesus. We have a role but it all originates with God.
Esther Leonard is the pastor of prayer discipleship at Mountain View Church in Clovis, California, where she serves alongside her husband, Fred Leonard. Her passion is to equip the saints for a life of missions and practical hands-on prayer ministry, so that the church is mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13).