Why we pray in C group
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20
It's no secret that we're big on community groups at Quest. The thriving small groups at Quest were one of the reasons I was so eager to join the church. Last year, I was mildly infamous for attending two C groups faithfully (it can be done, although I was a little less busy with other responsibilities in those days). Some of my best friends have come from those two groups, friendships that might never have come about without the weekly time of fellowship.
C groups are more than just fellowship, though. They are about learning and discussion, tough debates and 'aha' moments. It's not always comfortable, and it can be challenging to be vulnerable, to be open to other people's ideas, needs, hangups. In the Renovare group, we read things that we don't agree with, or that half of us agree with and the other half vehemently opposes. Some of our best nights have been the hardest, when we wrestled with deep, complicated topics like the nature of sin and what it means to live as a new creation.
Perhaps the most important part of C group, however, is prayer. We talked alot about making prayer a priority at the beginning of the season, and have tried to structure our meetings to make space for sharing requests and praying for each other, either in a large group or individually. We're not always consistent though, and sometimes prayer is an afterthought.
But last night was a different story. After our big Passover project we felt like taking a rest, so we decided to devote the entire night to fellowship and prayer. Jeff pulled out his Celtic Book of Prayer and took us through some directed prayer time. He would read a prayer, and then we would pray on the topic of that prayer with a partner or in a small group. We prayed for almost two solid hours.
It was incredible.
Now, I've never been really strong in my prayer life. Honestly, it is a real struggle for me to sit and pray for more than a few minutes. My mind wanders, I get restless. I more easily experience God in worship (side note: Worship on Easter Sunday was awesome). Meditation and contemplation and seven storey mountains have never been my strong suit. But last night's prayer time was intensely wonderful. The presence of God was palpable in the room.
There is something spiritually powerful in the prayer of a group of believers. Perhaps this is why Christianity is not an individual sport. While times of solitude can be necessary, and a beneficial discipline during seasons of one's life, God has said from the beginning that it is not good for us to be alone. But being in community goes far beyond sitting quietly next to each other at Sunday service. When we pray with and for each other we make space for God to move in mighty ways. We strengthen our respective faith in God's power by speaking words of hope and confidence; we bring comfort by praying over a difficult season of stress or grief. Another Christian's experiences and discoveries with Jesus can give an entirely new perspective on the issues we are facing. It is simply impossible to pray for yourself what another person can pray for you.
I felt so refreshed after that prayer time. Even today, which was not the easiest of days (my computer decided it didn't want to work anymore, which made me rather less effective in my job) I was reminded of the prayers that were said for me, and they helped me work past my frustrations. My circumstances are not significantly different than they were yesterday, but the comfort and confidence I gained from praying with my C group has given me the spiritual and emotional strength to tackle whatever comes. And I know that continued faithfulness to prayer will lead to lasting changes in my circumstances, as God works in situations in my life and the lives of those around me.