"The bond that unites a man to his fellow men is no less real and close than that which unites him to God; he is one with them. Grace not only renews our relation to God but also to man. We not only learn to say "My Father," but "Our Father." Nothing would be more unnatural than that the children of a family should always meet their father separately, but never in the united expression of their desires or their love. Believers are not only members of one family, but even of one body. Just as each member of the body depends on the other, and the full action of the spirit dwelling in the body depends on the union and cooperation of all, so Christians cannot reach the full blessing God is ready to bestow through His Spirit unless they seek and receive it in fellowship with each other."
Murray lists certain qualifiers to help us know whether we're truly uniting in prayer or merely sharing the same space and breathing the same air while praying at cross-purposes. These qualifiers are:
1) Agreement as to the thing asked/prayed for -- this in itself is the shipwreck of many a prayer gathering.
2) Praying in the Name of Jesus Christ -- honoring the name of the living God, and being quite clear upon whose power and authority we're resting
3) The sure answer -- the confidence that God responds to prayer. Prayer isn't some meaningless exercise that we do before we set about the real work -- it is indeed the work we set about which then directs our future exercises of actions.
Murray concludes with this quote:
"Who can say what power a church could develop and exercise if it gave itself to the work of prayer day and night for God's power on His servants and His word, and for the glorifying of God in the salvation of souls? Most churches think their members are gathered into one simply to take care of and build up each other. They do not know that God rules the world by the prayers of His saints, that prayer is the power by which Satan is conquered, that by prayer the Church on earth has as its disposal the powers of the heavenly world. They do not remember that Jesus has, by His promise, consecrated every assembly in His Name to be a gate of heaven, where His Presence is to be felt, and His Power experienced in the Father fulfilling their desires."
As we commit to the disciplines of fasting and prayer, let us not neglect the balance of doing so both privately, and corporately. Let us heed Jesus' warning in the sermon on the mount to be cautious in our corporate prayers not to be seeking acclaim of our fellows -- rather, let the private prayer be the taproot that energizes our corporate prayer gatherings.
Soli Deo Gloria
Resources for Revival Index:
Bill Bright on Fasting