Talking with God is often a private matter. We have our conversations as we are starting (or finishing) our day, while driving in the car, or sitting by ourselves. However, sometimes it is appropriate to pray with others, also.
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:13-16 NASB
In church, there may be a moment where all those who are present are asked to pray silently. This gives you a chance to share a personal prayer with God. Even when praying by yourself, though, doing so while being surrounded by others of like mind can be a special encouragement.
At home, if there are others in your household, I strongly encourage you to pray with them. For instance, mealtime is a great time to pray: you can be thankful before the meal, and perhaps have a time of prayer for others afterwards.
In our household, I often ask one my sons what he would like to pray about, before I finish tucking him in for the night. In the past, we might have been thankful for a new toy, or asked for someone who is sick to get better, or something else that is important to one of them. The topic isn’t always something I would choose myself, but when it’s important to one of my children, it’s something that we can talk about with God.
Sometimes, though, prayer means sitting down with someone – a child, spouse, friend, or neighbor – and praying (usually out loud) for that person directly; that is, asking God for something on their behalf. If a friend shares a problem with you, you can certainly promise to pray for him or her at home (which is good), or you can stop and pray for the need right there on the spot (which is also good). Those with good discipline can probably do both, but my memory often fails me, so – taking a cue from a pastor friend of mine – praying on the spot is a great opportunity.
Sometimes, we are also called to action – to address a need ourselves, in Jesus’ name. Praying for someone should not usually be the sole extent of our contributions to others, when we have the means to reach out (see 1 John 3:17). On the other hand, prayer should not be dismissed as somehow secondary to other ways that we can intervene on someone else’s behalf. The false idea that praying for someone is somehow a cop-out totally misses the power of prayer to mobilize God’s resources on others’ behalf. Conveniently, prayer and other forms of service to others are not mutually exclusive.
And, if we have thoughtful Christian friends, they may stop and pray out loud for us, while we are listening. If you agree with what they are saying, just agree in your heart (knowing that God is listening); if not, pray your own prayer silently. I think of that like a duet, sung to God in the harmony that comes from two hearts and minds sharing what is important to them, both with each other and with God.
A version of this devotion originally appeared at http://fcccanton.com/praying-with-others/ as a Study Guide. Reprinted here by permission.