Jesus and Corporate Prayer – Sermon Application #2
No man is an island, and no Christian who willfully neglects corporate prayer can thrive as God intends. God has made the people of His church mutually dependent─ and this in such a way that unity among God’s people in corporate prayer opens the door to fresh spiritual blessing. This is God’s intention for His church, and we must unite to pursue it if we are to have spiritual success. To this end, the corporate prayers of Jesus are very helpful to us, for they focus our prayers and motivate us to continue.
Corporate prayer application 1:
When Jesus brought His disciples to the garden of Gethsemane, He brought them in order that they might join Him in prayer before the powers of darkness came against them. We see Jesus’ longing for fellowship in prayer when He says to the disciples, “could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matt. 26:40). Note the words “with me.” Apart from intimacy with Jesus in prayer, the Christian life is lifeless religion. He is our life, and we must abide in Him─ not only by studying the Word as a theoretical exercise, but by communicating to the ever-living God who watches and waits to interact with us relationally by His Spirit. We must be conscious of a Living God in our midst and not ignorant of Him. Applied to corporate prayer, we must never conceptualize God as far off and unconcerned, but as very near and more concerned than us. He desires to be with us in prayer, and so we must take heart in knowing that He is (Matt. 18:20, 6:6).
Corporate prayer application 2:
We don’t typically think of Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” as a corporate prayer. However, there is reason to believe that this prayer was uttered in the context of corporate prayer. The Bible tells us that “there followed [Jesus] a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.” (Luke 23:27). Thus, this blessed prayer of our Savior went up even amidst the lamentations and tearful prayers of these disciples. Notice that the prayer was not imprecatory─ to call down fire and curses upon His murderers. On the contrary, it was a cry for mercy and forgiveness! When we pray together, our prayers should express this same desire for mercy.
Evangelism application 1:
When Jesus prayed saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” He implied an unforgivable sin characterized by willfully sinning against light. We read of this in the book of Hebrews: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:26). As Pastor Vradenburgh said, “Only God knows when a man or a woman steps across the line and there’s no forgiveness for them.” Our task is not to attempt to decipher whether or not someone is guilty of this sin, but rather to warn sinners to repent while there is still time. The Bible says, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). We should warn sinners that those who are hoping to hold out until later in life are unlikely to have the opportunity. The Bible says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Prov. 29:1) Let’s have a sense of urgency and make it clear to sinners that the time to be saved is now.