Over the years, as I’ve been part of many fellowships, I’ve seen fellow believers calling around frantically for others to pray when there are needs which they feel deeply. Often enough, though, the others who are requested to pray are not really those who are experienced in praying scripturally for others. Sometimes those who are requested to pray may not even be believers.
The remedy that I suggest for the improvement of corporate prayer in the body of Christ is a method which I call The Circle of Faith and Ripples of Praise. It is a method which I have followed for many years without really giving it any special name or even really sharing it with others.
The Circle of Faith are those believers who have agreed and have prayed for the request to God in mutual faith.
The members of the Circle of Faith are all believers in Jesus Christ.
The first reason for this method is seeking for all those in prayer to be on ‘praying ground.’ This means that they are all ‘in Christ’ — regenerate believers who can legitimately claim the promises of God in Jesus Christ. This is not to say that God does not answer the prayer of an unbeliever, but that the covenant promises of answered prayer in the scriptures are addressed to those who are believers. This avoids the problem with those who call those who may not even be believers to join in corporate prayer concerns — they are calling those to agree with them in prayer who do not have the scriptural relationship to be assured of answered prayer.
The members of the Circle of Faith are all ‘walking in the light as he is in the light’ (I John 1:7).
A believer in Christ has the normal condition attached to answered prayer of abiding in Christ (John 15:7) and not harboring intentional, unconfessed sin (Psalm 68:16). This avoids the problem of calling professed believers who may not be walking closely with Christ to join in for corporate prayer concerns. The agreement sought in prayer is not undercut by those whose lives do not meet the scriptural conditions for answered prayer.
The members of the Circle of Faith are all agreed on what they are asking God to do.
Paul in I Timothy 2:1 calls for believers not to dispute with each other as they pray. Moreover, the condition in Matthew 18:19-20 calls for agreement among those in prayer. This avoids the problem of calling those who are not really agreed in what they want to ask God asking God for contradictory things when they are attempting to join together in prayer. The basis of the request needs to be the persuasion of all joining in prayer that what they are asking is a scriptural request before God.
The members of the Circle of Faith are all asking in faith for what they want God to do.
This means that all in the Circle of Faith need to fulfill the promise of Mark 11:24. This means that the circle of those praying will be single-minded in faith before God for what they are asking, and not simply several people exemplifying the double mindedness reproved in James 1:6-8. This addresses the problem of those who may not really be ready to trust God do do what they are all asking. It avoids those who attempt to ‘correct’ and ‘edit’ the prayer of the person who has just prayed, rather than agree.
The members of the Circle of Faith are all asking for what they want God to do for the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
This fulfills the condition of answered prayer from John 14:13. It is the one reason for prayer which those who love God can agree upon: the glory of God.
The Ripples of Praise are the testimonies of God’s answers to prayer which come from the members of the Circle of Faith to others.
The Ripples of Praise may be shared with others who are not believers in Jesus Christ as a testimony to the God of the Bible, who hears and answers prayer.
People of all religions and all denominational backgrounds go through rituals of prayer, but the testimonies of answered prayers from believers show the reality of God to those for whom prayer is simply a ritual or recitation of words.
The Ripples of Praise may be shared with others who are not ‘walking in the light as he is in the light’ (I John 1:7) as a testimony to the joy of godliness.
One of the lies to which the backslidden are in bondage is that their way is ‘practical,’ and that a genuinely godly walk without the compromises that they have fallen into is not. It is the false survival ethic, of living as if God really did not exist, as if he were not faithful to his promises, and as if following him faithfully were not much more rewarding than a compromised life.
The Ripples of Praise may be shared with others as a witness to the effectiveness of agreement in prayer.
One of the tremendous corrections needed to the futility of much ineffective corporate prayer is to demonstrate that true agreement in prayer genuinely receives answers from God.
The Ripples of Praise may be shared with others as a witness to the effectiveness of praying in faith.
Praying in faith often is encouraged by example of those who ask and receive from God regularly and who have lived in faith for many years
The Ripples of Praise are shared with others as a witness to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
Each testimony of answered prayer is ultimately a witness to the glory and grace of God through Jesus Christ, not the spiritual superiority of the person or persons who prayed.