Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week

corporate prayer
A prayer spoken aloud by one person on behalf of a whole group of gathered believers. 

  • A corporate prayer from scripture:
    When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
    “‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
    The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers were gathered together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
    for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, alongwith the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand andyour plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:23-31, ESV)
    1. It Advances God’s Kingdom in Face of Opposition

    First, corporate prayer is important because God uses prayer together to advance his kingdom in the face of opposition.

    The early church had a number of obstacles to overcome, including persecution. In spite of persecution, it continued to expand. How?

    If you have your Bibles, turn to Acts chapter 2 where we learn that the early church gathered regularly for prayer. In verses 42 to 44, Luke writes,

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.

    As a result—verse 47—“the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
    Yet this growth often occurred in the face of persecution, which we see several times. In Acts 4, Peter and John are released from prison and the church gathers to hear their report. Then they prayed together, praising God for his sovereignty and asking for boldness in the face of the threats. Luke then tells us:

    After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31)

    The result was that the gospel spread even more.

    Another example occurs in Acts 12. When King Herod (Agrippa I) arrests Peter in order to please the Jews, the church gathers together and “was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5). The night before Herod was to put Peter on trial, Peter was miraculously delivered from imprisonment (Acts 12:5-11).

    So we see the power of united prayer in the early church. That power comes from the Holy Spirit, who seemed to be especially active in their corporate prayer. But the Holy Spirit didn’t stop working with the early church. Throughout history we’ve seen God’s work to be particularly active when his people have faithfully prayed together.

    The power of the Spirit in the early church and throughout history should embolden us to pray together regularly for the expansion of the gospel in our country and around the world. God’s work will not be thwarted! And following the example of the early church, we’re to call upon him to continue in that work. That’s why our church consistently prays for the work of other churches both in the morning and evening services. That’s why our church prays for religious freedom in countries where Christians are being persecuted. But it’s also why our church desires to see the church expand in the very face of persecution—that God’s power and wisdom will be displayed as his church expands—inexplicably (by human wisdom)!—when all the forces of hell are arrayed against it.

Learn more:

  1. Is Corporate Prayer Important?
  2. James M. Hamilton, Jr: A Biblical Theology of Corporate Prayer
  3. Mark Dever: On the Use and Importance of Corporate Prayer
  4. Jamie Dunlop: Corporate Prayer
  5. 9Marks Journal: Sample Corporate Prayers — December 2, 2007 and December 9, 2007
  6. Brian Borgman: Corporate Prayer (Part 1) and Corporate Prayer (Part 2) (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Ecclesiology

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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