Call to Prayer: Praying Together
Posted on June 15, 2017 by Jon Trotter
By Sarah Showalter
“The difference between success and failure is a great team.” —Dave Kerpen
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” —Michael Jordan
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller
“Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.” —Ifeanyi Onuoha
“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” —Kenyan Proverb
Even in the secular world there’s a high value placed on teamwork. At VMMissions, we believe that team was God’s design for us from the beginning.
One of our guiding principles reads, “Team is our preferred mode of engaging in mission. The Bible underscores the necessity of deep relationships for human well-being. Jesus gathered and equipped a group of disciples to model and announce God’s kingdom. Similarly, the Holy Spirit set apart missionary teams to spread the gospel in the first century. Following this pattern, we primarily mobilize teams of individuals and families into mission contexts.”
This should also be our model for prayer. There is definitely a place for personal prayer, but I think we also find a fuller hope when we pray together.
We are called “to be together, gathering around a promise, affirming what is happening among us. This is what prayer is all about. Prayer is coming together around a promise.”
– Henri Nouwen
My “team” for the last two and a half years has been a small prayer group made up of young adults from my congregation, Ridgeway Mennonite Church.
It began in the fall of 2014 when my husband and I joined another couple for an evening of prayer. We weren’t necessarily intending to start a prayer group, but after meeting the first time, we were hooked. From then on we met every week, quickly drawing in others who were yearning to dig deeper in prayer. Our shared vision was for seeing breakthrough in our neighborhoods and church community through prayer and it was an incredible encouragement to share and seek this vision together. There’s something about being in it together that spurs you on, continuing to fuel the flame after the initial spark.
My team, like most teams, has faced challenges along the way. It’s in the midst of opposition, challenge, and loss that team becomes especially crucial. Like Moses in Exodus 17, who was told that Israel would be victorious as long as his hands were raised toward heaven, we need others to support us – holding up our arms when we become too weak to hold them up ourselves. I’ve become acutely aware that our prayer group has done this for each other through job transitions, seasons of spiritual dryness, the loss of a child, and most recently the loss of one our original group members in a tragic car accident. We have taken turns pointing each other towards the promise of God’s redemption. We need each other.
A reflection from Henri Nouwen on Christian community cuts right to the heart of why we need team.
“The whole meaning of [team] lies in offering each other a space and support to wait for what we have already seen. Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power in us when we are together that allows us to live in this world without surrendering to the powerful forces constantly seducing us toward despair. That is how we dare to say that God is a God of love even when we see hatred all around us. That is why we can claim that God is a God of life even when we see death and destruction and agony all around us. We say it together. We affirm it in each other. Waiting together, nurturing what has already begun, expecting its fulfillment – that is the meaning of marriage, friendship, community, and the Christian life.”
How can we become team together in prayer? Who are the people God is asking you to join together with in seeking the fulfillment of what God has already begun?
Sarah Showalter is a freelance writer and former VMMissions staff member.