As a Christian, I know that God listens to and answers my prayers.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14I also know that God often answers prayers in ways that we don't expect; but the people I pray with don't know that. And because of that, my faith is tested during these prayers.
What if I pray and God doesn't answer a prayer with a positive outcome? What type of testimony is that to other people? How will they believe?
But I've found that God doesn't leave me "alone" when I pray. Lately, I've "heard back" from people whom I've prayed for...and God has answered their prayers, with specific answers and provision.
And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name's sake… Ezekiel 20:44aFor His name's sake, He answers. And my faith is strengthened.
This month, my pastor's sermons have included a three-part prayer.
One part is, "Grant me I pray Oh Lord...A greater faith in Your power."
I've been thinking, "What does a greater faith look like? How does that come about?"
And while considering those questions, I opened and read from Praying Together by Megan Hill:
At it's heart, prayer is an invisible act of faith in an unseen God, and praying with others strengthens our own faith and silences our nagging doubts.
Praying together, sharing our prayers with others, is a way that God strengthens our faith.
Hmmm...life is chaotic. I struggle with how my Christian journey is going. Am I growing in faith and encouraging others? Most often, it's lonely and hard, and I seem to fail.
In my Christian experience, I've participated in very little corporate prayer.
Maybe it's because...praying aloud with other people is intimate and personal. I'm talking to my God, and I can't be fake.
Maybe it's because...people are afraid and just don't know how to pray with other people.
Maybe it's because...prayer is foreign. Do most Christians spend much or any time in prayer? There have been periods in my life when I didn't pray.
I think Megan Hill is correct...
First, in praying with another person, I'm invited into that person's relationship with our Lord. And that experience is faith strengthening.
Second, our Lord is all wise and knowing. He acts in response to prayers and acts in amazing ways!
And - I'm smiling right now, because He answers in ways that I don't expect. It's humbling, and it's also faith strengthening.
In the early church, we find the believers together in prayer.
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 1:14I pray for myself, my church, and all Christian churches to be devoted to prayer...for the strengthening of our faith and for His name's sake.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18