How Does the Individual Benefit from Corporate Prayer?

January 22, 2008

Mark Dever is the Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and the director of 9Marks Ministries. In an recent interview about corporate prayer Dever was asked this question:

So what are some of the benefits of the individual Christian of corporate prayer? Here I am; I’m a member of a congregation; I’m sitting here participating in this corporate prayer – what are the benefits for me? How will I grow in grace?

Participating regularly in corporate prayer begins to take out the individualistic assumption that Christianity is only about me and my relationship with God;

and it begins to re-situate us as individual Christians in the congregation so that we become aware of this person who’s sick, this person who’s just had a baby, this person who’s unemployed, this person who’s just become a Christian. Participating in corporate prayer helps us discover that our lives as followers of Christ are tied up with one another’s. It helps us discover how God cares about the congregation as an entity – that it should be marked by the fruit of the Spirit and the love of John 13:34-35.

That’s not how Christians in America normally talk. You hear about “my own spiritual desires and demands”; you don’t really hear about the local congregation’s desirs and demands. But regularly participating in corporate prayer reintroduces these ideas and reorients our thinking.

So it works against disunity?

Yes, among many other things. It works against disunity because you begin to realize that that person you are disregarding, mocking, or dismissing is actually part of your own body. You have to approach them and their problems – even when you disagree with them – differently than you would before.

Including owning their…

Yes, it’s not “their problem,” it’s “our problem.” This pulls you into church discipline. It pulls you into correcting other people. It pulls you into other aspects of life together because you tangle up your life with theirs.

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