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Private vs. Corporate Prayer

Written by: on January 23, 2015

This week’s reading reminded me just how important prayer is in every aspect of a Christian’s life. Prayer is the tool/mechanism (for a lack of a better term), which allows man to commune with God. It is only through prayer that we can have a relationship with God. A relationship is what God desires to have with us. Throughout the Bible, we find God constantly seeking a relationship with his people. MaryKate Morse, in her book, A Guidebook to Prayer, explains that, “Being made in the image of God, we are designed for relationship with our Maker and with each other.”[1] God enables mankind to interact with Him on a person and intimate level.

In my Christian experience, I have found there are two types of prayers: individual and corporate. Both are important in a person’s Christian walk and each plays a different role in the life of the individual. I believe that both are needed for a person to mature in their faith. In my earlier seminary studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary, I had an instructor that insisted we spend almost 2 hours per day in prayer. This time was not to be combined with any other ministerial work. I must admit, when I received this assignment I believed there was no way that I could carve out that much time in my day. Instead, I found out just how much time I waste each day that should be spent in time building my relationship with Christ. By the end of the class, I was spending over two hours a day in prayer. We seem to always find ways to do what we want to do, so our prayer time reflects our priorities.

Individual prayer is a personal time to commune with God, one-on-one. This is my time to go before my father and share my innermost thoughts, desires, failures, dreams, and hopes. It is where I confess my sins and ask for forgiveness. Christ is closer to me than my wife, children, mother, father, or friends. Proverbs 18: 24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” When we spend time alone with Christ in prayer, He can work on changing our hearts to become more like His.

Corporate prayer, like you find in a church setting, can bring individuals into a communal relationship with God. When I am praying with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I often sense of the body of Christ worshiping before the throne of God. This style of prayer is powerful, as it allows all individuals to come together as one body to seek God on a wide range of issues. There is much power when many rise up their concerns to the Lord. Additionally, when the public can see that the church is united in prayer, God’s power is demonstrated to the world. Through Scripture, we see where God’s people prayed, he answered them.

[1] Morse, MaryKate. A Guidebook to Prayer: Twenty-four ways to walk with God. InterVarsity Press. (2013). Loc 318 Kindle.

About the Author

Richard Volzke

8 responses to “Private vs. Corporate Prayer”

  1. mm John Woodward says:

    Two hours of prayer a day…that would be a daunting assignment! I am far from that goal, but I am very curious about how you got to that level….what did you do to keep your focus on God and not get distracted (as I find myself thinking about my to-do lists)? It really is one of those “catch-22” – you know you will have more time and a better ordered life if you take more time to pray, but finding time to pray takes time away from getting your disordered life in order! I know that there is no important way to spend time than developing that relationship with God…but it still remains a struggle. Two hours…wow. Curious to know more of how to get there! Thanks Richard for both the challenge and encouragement!

    • Richard Volzke says:

      John,
      They way I was able to pray for two hours was to do it throughout the day. I would pray for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and over time, I increased my time per session. By the end of the class I could do two hours in one shot. When I started, my mind would wonder every few minutes, but over time the Lord helped me to stay focused. I broke up my prayers into sections:
      1. First, I praised God for all of the ways He has blessed my life.
      2. Next, I submitted my requests
      3. Then, I would stay quiet before the Lord – this is where you my mind tends to wander. However, I try to focus on thinking through my most pressing matters and focusing on how He wants me to respond and on what Scripture says.
      4. Lastly, I would read my Bible and talk to God while reading.

      I will say that there are times when I get busy and my two hours doesn’t happen as it should. However, the idea is to carve out the time when you have it…so that when you get busy, you can maintain the pace and focus on Christ.
      Richard

  2. Richard, Wow! Two hours a day. I beleive it can be done but so often not proposed. I was in South Korea where the Koreans would gather for hours of corporate prayer time at prayer mountain. They had small rooms in the mountain where people would spend hours if not days in them praying. We were told that in order to be pastor at the Full Gospel Church each pastor had to pray for 2 hours. If they were higher up in Pastoral leadership they would have to pray for four hours a day. Was it John Wesley or Martian Luther who said I have so much to do today that I must prayer an extra hour. Blessings my friend. Mitch

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Mitch,
      Martin Luther is the individual who said, “I have so much to do today that I must prayer an extra hour.” I have to confess that I am not always spending two hours a day in prayer these days. It is easy to allow the day-to-day things of life to encroach on my prayer time. This year, I am committing to start praying at least two hours a day. It will not be easy, but I intend to make it happen. I can keep myself focused in I pray in the morning, at night, and at various intervals through the day.
      Richard

  3. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Richard
    Good post! I especially like where you wrote, “This is my time to go before my father and share my innermost thoughts, desires, failures, dreams, and hopes. It is where I confess my sins and ask for forgiveness. Christ is closer to me than my wife, children, mother, father, or friends.” These words convey an intimacy and hunger for God which is very beautiful.
    I’m very impressed how you mastered prayer for two hours a day. How would you have described your walk with God back then? How is it now by comparison? Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Very touching.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Liz,
      My walk was ok before my prayer journey, but as I spent more and more time in prayer I became better able to discern situations and to hear God’s answers. Today, I find it difficult with my busy schedule to specifically carve out two hours. However, time spent in the morning and at night helps me to focus on Christ throughout the day. When I served as a pastor, I must admit that I have, at times, failed our flock when it comes to teaching and preaching on prayer. Western Christianity hasn’t done a great job at explaining the power of prayer and how it connects us with Christ. We neglect the role of the Holy Spirit, and don’t teach on how to discern the Spirit. Yet, it is the day-to-day leading of the Holy Spirit that we need.
      Richard

  4. Michael Badriaki says:

    Richard, thank you for the post. I appreciate the personal testimony of how God continues to work in your life through both the individual and cooperate aspects life.

    Indeed, you are right in writing that ” … He can work on changing our hearts to become more like His.” I believe that’s the greatest blessing on prayer, that God changes our lives in the way He answers prayer.

    Thank you!

  5. Miriam Mendez says:

    Richard, I appreciate your reminder of the private and corporate prayer—the importance and blessing of each in our individual lives and as a body of Christ. Thanks, Richard!

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