In Part 1 of this blog series, we talked about the importance of prayer as a means of developing your relationship with God. I briefly discussed my private prayer life. I also talked about the importance of not only praying privately with God, but the idea of praying to God with others. This idea is called communal prayer. If you have not yet read Part 1 of this blog series, you can check it out here.
In Part 2 of this blog series, we discussed the reasons for the importance of creating an environment of oneness among believers in the church and how communal prayer is a big part of that. If you have not had a chance to read Part 2 of this blog series, you can check it out here.
So the value of having communal oneness of believers is a really cool thing. The early church showed a oneness that really has not been replicated since then. So can we get back to this type of oneness in our churches? Can God do this again? The answer is a bold Yes! Jesus won the right to give His church all the blessings of God. This is clearly defined for us when we look to the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Here are some of the blessings from God-given to the Church:
Sharing Christ’s position of power and favor at the right hand of God.
Ephesians 1:15-23 (NIV)
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Ephesians 2:4-6 (NIV)
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
Sharing Christ as our Head who has power to fill our lives with His own amazing character and unite us in His love.
Ephesians 1:22-23 (NIV)
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Knowing by experience the love of Christ and being filled together unto all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Helping each other perfect holiness until we each grow up spiritually and get to share in the mature fullness in Christ.
Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Receiving, by faith, the fullness of the Spirit and becoming thankfully submissive to God and to one another in our body life, our home life, and in our work relationships.
Ephesians 5:18-6:9 (NIV)
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
All these blessing are wonderful, but they do not just automatically come. There is effort that is required on our part. If we really want to experience the kind of oneness and blessings that the early church experienced, we have certain things that we need to do on an individual basis.
Here are four different things that we need to do individually so that we can come together fully in oneness and receive God’s full blessings in our lives:
Repent of living any other way and believe God for the kind of life He has given His church through Christ.
Get at least one other person to agree with us in seeking to possess all of those blessings together in Christ.
Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV)
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Put on the whole armor of God, piece by piece, and unite with our brothers and sisters in Christ in a determined stand against Satan’s attacks on our faith.
Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Pray for all saints that we might all share these blessings together and also pray for boldness in anyone teaching the gospel message.
Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV)
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
These are not new ideas. As you can read, these ideas come straight from the Bible. The Bible is telling us exactly what we need to do. What we need to do is commit to learning what we need to do and then try to live it out in our own lives. If many people do this individually, the overall group effect is unlimited.
We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to receive God’s blessings. God’s blessings are available to each of us now, right where we are at. We need to learn to tap into these blessings available to us. We need to live our lives in a way that allows us to be blessed fully by God in the manner He intended for us.
In our next and final blog of this series, I will be getting real practical with five ways we can be more communal in our prayer. These are things I have been practicing in my own life so that I can get more comfortable with public prayer.