Prayer is one of the common experiences of genuine Christians. When Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, the Lord declared, “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11). Nevertheless, while we do pray privately as believers in Christ, we may struggle to participate in corporate prayer. One of the hindrances for coming together to pray as a church is a lack of conviction concerning why we should pray together. Thus, while worship services may be filled, churches find it difficult to persuade members to attend the prayer meeting – whether the gathering be physical or over a virtual platform like Zoom.

Why should we come together to pray? Some believe that when we do so, our prayers become more powerful than when we pray individually. They are convinced that when the brethren gather to seek God in prayer, it will persuade the hand of God to move. They claim that where two or three are gathered together in God’s name, there He is in the midst of them. (Matt. 18:19-20).

Such a teaching flies against the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. God is not like men who will bow down to the whims and fancies of a vociferous majority. When we pray, we are submitting ourselves to the will of God and not bending God to our will. Remember, God knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matt. 6:8).

Two misconceptions must be addressed. First, Matthew 18:19-20 lies in the context of procedures to follow with regards to church discipline. It must not be interpreted as a promise to force God to do whatever we desire. Second, individual prayers are as effectual as corporate prayers because the power behind prayer is God Himself. The Scripture testify that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) Prayers offered in truth and submission to God’s will are always answered, whether it be made by an individual or by thousands.

So why is corporate prayer important? First, it is the pattern set by the early church. In Acts 2:42, we read how the early church, “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Corporate prayer was thus an integral part of church life and celebrates the unity of the church in Christ Jesus.

We learn of further principles of corporate prayer in Acts 4:23-31. The Apostles Peter and John had just been released from a one-day imprisonment by the Sanhedrin and were threatened not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). The church gathered spontaneously to pray with one accord (i.e. with one mind and one spirit). Thus, we see firstly their united concern of God’s work and kingdom. Second, we see their united confession of the truth in their declaration of God’s sovereignty over His raging enemies of this earth (Acts 4:24-46). They also confessed that the crucifixion of Jesus and this subsequent persecution which the church faced was by the counsel of God (Acts 4:27- 28). Thus, we see thirdly their united plea for God’s help to deal with the situation at hand. In this case, they requested that the Apostles and all who were to preach be granted boldness to preach the truth despite the threats of the Sanhedrin.

God’s answer to this corporate prayer was emphatic. The room where the saints assembled shook to denote the approval of God in granting them power to preach Christ (Acts 4:31). Instead of shrinking in fear, the disciples of Christ were filled with the Spirit of God and continued to speak the Word of God boldly. The common spiritual experience of the church in seeing their prayer answered by God was priceless. There was now great spiritual blessings and power to do the work of Christ.

Beloved, praying together ought to be the common experience of God’s people. When we gather together to pray, we provoke one another unto love and unto good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). Prayer meetings serve as a means of grace to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). We are in a common spiritual battle. Praying together is thus such a wonderful privilege that is given to us in Christ Jesus. What a wonderful opportunity to have Christian fellowship and encourage one another in the faith, Let us therefore seize every opportunity to gather and pray as God’s united family.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew


The Forcing of Wrath Leads to Strife
A Commentary on Proverbs 30:32-33 by Charles Bridges (Abridged and Edited)

“If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. 33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” (Prov. 30:32-33)

This evidently applies to the preceding illustration – a king, against whom there is no rising. But if thou hast lifted up thyself in despising his authority (Rom. 13:1-2), or even if thou hast but thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, restraining the ebullition in silent and humble submission.

As a general rule, however, we may be thankful for the caution, If we have done foolishly by provoking irritation and in lifting up ourselves, even in some evil thought against a brother, quench the rising spark, ere it kindle into a flame. The thought of foolishness is sin. It is made worse, when it forces its passage to the mouth. Words increase the sin, shew more of its power, and are more hurtful to others. Obviously, it is wise to lay our hand upon our mouth, and to restrain the expression, when we cannot prevent the thought. Better to keep in the infirmity, than to give it vent. But when there is no discipline, guard or restraint; the mouth of the fool poureth out foolishness (Prov. 15:2), overflowing at the lips, and bringing a flood of trouble upon the soul.

Towards man however it is often the forcing of wrath, not natural irritation. A peaceable man may be goaded to anger (Prov. 15:1; 26:2), as the violent shaking of the milk in the church bringeth forth butter, or the wringing of the nose bringeth blood. The action of forced works what would not otherwise have been done. But fearful is the strife of this forced wrath. Sihon thus provoked his own ruin (Num. 21: 23-24); the Ephraimites stirred up a murderous strife (Judg. 7:1-6); Asahel sharpened Abner’s spear by his wilful waywardness (2 Sam. 2:22-23); Amaziah plunged into destruction by the strife of the forced wrath of Joash, who was disposed to peace and quietness (2 Chro. 25:17-23). How multiplied are the sources of misery – the fruit of ungovernable temper and selfwill! “Only by pride cometh contention” (Prov. 13:10); and what that contention may end, who can say?

A humble heart will repress the sparks of this unholy fire. A sorrowful spirit for the evil of our thoughts is a component part of the cure (Eccl. 7:4). We should not readily indulge the sin, for which we had been truly humbled before our God. Whereas in the want of this genuine spirit, how reluctant we are to acknowledge our offence towards each other! We can always find some good reason for lifting up ourselves, or for thinking evil. And how hard it goes with our proud tempers to be the first to lay our hands upon our mouths! How much more ready are we to open our mouths in selfjustification, than in self-abasement. Thus, instead of quenching, we force wrath. Instead of “the meekness of wisdom,” there “is envy and strife, confusion, and every evil work” (Jas. 3:13, 16).; enmity between those who believe themselves to be members of the same body, heirs of the same inheritance (Eph. 4:4-6) and bound by the same obligation to love one another (Jn. 13:34-35). Hasten the blessed time, when the Church shall be fully transformed into the image of her Divine Lord; when it shall be a Church of perfect love in a world of love!