Exploring the Mysteries of Prayer
Rev. D. Johns
1. Is there strength in numbers? Why is it good to gather with other believers to pray? Are longer prayer meetings more effective than shorter ones? Sometimes we are tempted to discuss the mysteries of prayer with more energy than is expended entering into prayer itself.
Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? Zondervan 2006
He relates an account reported by historian Paul Johnson. In 1493 students at the University of Louvain debated these topics: do four five-minute prayers on consecutive days stand a better chance of being answered than one twenty-minute prayer? Is a prayer of ten minutes, said on behalf of ten people, as efficacious as ten one-minute prayers? The debate lasted eight weeks, longer than it had taken Columbus to sail to America the previous year.
Yancey is not willing to ‘buy-in’ to the thinking that prayer operates according to a mathematical formula in which God calculates the total amount of prayer-pressure being applied. But he does acknowledge anecdotal/historical evidence for mass prayer meeting success. Yancey notes Biblical accounts of group prayer being called for and celebrated.
So, whether you stay home tonight and pray from there, or choose to gather with other followers of Jesus at church tonight – I will not judge. Yes, it is a mystery. Perhaps life in the Kingdom of God is about doing both.