Over the last few days I have been re-reading part of Timothy Keller’s great book, “Prayer”, focusing particularly on his chapter entitled “The Prayer of Prayers”. As you would expect, it’s about the Lord’s Prayer.
Keller reminds us that the Lord’s Prayer was given to us in plural form. We ask God to give us what we need, meaning that, as much as possible, “the prayers of Christians ought to be public . . . to the advancement of the believers’ fellowship.”
Prayer is therefore not strictly a private thing. As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally. Why? If the substance of prayer is to continue a conversation with God, and if the purpose of it is to know God better, then this can happen best in community.
C. S. Lewis argues that it takes a community of people to get to know an individual person. Reflecting on his own friendships, he observes that some aspects of his friend’s personality were brought out only through interaction with a second friend. That meant that if he lost the second friend, he lost part of his first friend that was otherwise invisible.
“By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want lights other than my own to show all his facets.” Keller continues, “If it takes a community to know an ordinary human being, how much more necessary would it be to get to know Jesus alongside others? By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.”
These insights underline the significant value of our Community Groups. We cannot know Jesus fully alone. It is as we pray with others and study the Scriptures together that we get to know Jesus better that we ever could on our own. I have often found that a sentence in someone else’s prayer or another’s insight into a particular passage in God’s Word provides me with a glimpse of my Saviour I had not seen before. And I like to think that I have helped others in the same way. I am sure that was part of Jesus’ intention when he called twelve men to follow him in community. That’s part of the reason we urge all at RUC to be part of a small group of some kind. We want to know Jesus better, and we get to know him better together.
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