I’ve been in many prayer groups, most were great. We had a small one at work that did exploits in the Spirit among people, organizations, crossing boundaries. The one most unusual was with a group of women, who allowed me to join them, (I had secured my wife’s concurrence and she knew them all). This group was for the prodigal’s we knew, but the Holy Spirit led the prayer. If you have ever been among a group led by the Spirit, you will know that He loves variety and knows exactly what is best in that day and every minute. The Holy Spirit brings God’s word to bare in Spirit conflict and just as aptly brings refreshing and joy overflowing. It was a privilege to lift up the names of each prodigal on our list. The Father’s heart is for the prodigal and ready to embrace his return with rejoicing and celebration. What maturity I saw in that group and peace whether in silence our mutually crying out in supplication.
These times of corporate prayer are among some of the most amazing demonstrations of Holy Spirit presence I ever knew. Faith would rise up and meet visions of need with specific scriptures and there was assurance that our petitions were granted, strongholds were broken, provision supplied, help dispatched all through the gracious mercy of Almighty God. No, there was not always reports coming back regarding these details, but faith demands no proof. There were regular confirmations that this prayer was effective, important, and critical to families.
Other prayer groups were very ordinary and more directed by predetermined areas selected by leaders or a round-robin approach, which is fine and appropriate, particularly when there is a diverse group. We are all different in our experience and relationships with God and each other. I would never judge a person’s prayer by outside criteria because the Spirit works at a deep level and makes our prayer acceptable. Nevertheless, I would rather have five minutes of Holy Spirit leadership than any amount of man’s leading, and I say that to include my leading. One might say, “Don’t you believe the leader could have prepared his agenda through the Holy Spirit?” Right, but it would still be second hand. Yes, I believe those who read from books of prayer can be used of God. I have often been a leader myself and see it as a humbling service, but my faith is for God’s leading through each heart. Moreover, God knows everything before we say it. What better prayer is there than the Spirits. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8: 26-27).
I believe it is humility that moves most closely with the Spirits desire, whether in prayer or service. I was once in a specifically organized large prayer conference. Time came for prayer so the leader projected a list of prayer needs before the group. As the prayer proceeded, the leader seemed disappointed that the prayers were not adequately including the items on his list, so he announced that these were the items to pray for. I wondered whether he had ever read the scriptures, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6: 7-8). Did he think that repeating his list would ensure God’s favor? I will not judge his motives, but it illustrates the conflict that can exist between faith, Spirit leading, and human wisdom. Another time I remember a small gathering at our work place prayer group where we went around the circle praying in turn and concluded what seemed a simple expression of each one’s need. After we closed, I noticed that one lady who seldom came was greatly moved with tears and the presence of God. We must never judge by the external, nor underestimate the power of God to work in human hearts. Yeshua spent much time in prayer and He is our example. He included His disciples in His prayer times on occasion, as He taught, when two or three agree on anything they ask the Father, it will be done. (Matt. 18: 19). Lord, Yeshua, forgive our weak faith and help us to believe your words. Draw your people together in prayer.