In Week Two of our study a new theme emerged―Praying together. I know that idea can make people very nervous but really it’s a beautiful way to continue to build community.
Praying in a group is something I have been taught to do since I was small. I come from a large family and I remember praying with my parents and siblings every night. First it was at mealtime and then bedtime. We would say the prayers my parents taught us and then they would ask us if we wanted to say our own prayers.
There were the nights one brother prayed that we would get a dog, or another brother prayed for his basketball team or one would pray to pass a test. We were learning how to pray together and eventually we would learn how to pray for one another. Communal prayer was instinctual in my family. It’s one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me for three reasons.
First, there is strength in numbers my friends. It’s biblical even. Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” In my family there were ten of us so God surely dwelt among us. My Dad used to say “We are stronger together” and he was right. Not only can that be applied to families but to friendships.
We are stronger together as we bring those prayers for each other before the Lord for his blessing. We are stronger together as we intercede for one another, begging for God to heal or provide for a certain need. We are stronger together as we praise the living God who remains in our midst whether we are in a hard season or one filled with joy.
Praying together strengthens our friendships, providing a sturdy foundation on which to build community. It’s part of the language we speak as Christians walking together through the storms of life. It is part of the work of the church to bring healing, to protect, and to assist in repenting. It gives us a unity in mission. When we pray together we are disciples to one another assisting the other to grow in spiritual maturity and grace.
The second lesson I learned was that we do not walk this journey alone. I knew I always had people in my corner praying for me. I had my own spiritual cheerleading squad, although I have no doubt my burly brothers would object to being called “cheerleaders.” I mean we still fought with one another and annoyed each other on an hourly basis, but when push came to shove, they were there praying with me and for me when the challenges came.
We are all looking for a team to assist us and help us carry our burdens aren’t we? We were never meant to suffer alone. We were meant for community and boy does that prayer support make all the difference when the challenges come.
I have been blessed to be a part of many prayer groups over the years, starting with my family, then my fellow Navy wives, and now the group of women who have been a part of my life for the last two decades. It is a privilege to sit with them and listen when a diagnosis has come or a job lost or a child has been in trouble. To listen and then to pray with them humbles me and makes me a better Christian.
Finally, when I have gone through my own trials and I have no words to offer, these women lift me up, praying the words I cannot pray. I think this might be my favorite part of praying together in community. When I am exhausted or tapped out with grief, I raise my white flag and they come running to the rescue. They stand in the gap for me and they cover me with prayer. It comforts and keeps me from completely falling apart. I have peace knowing there are people praying for me in those moments of darkness and I am forever grateful for it.
Praying together and for one another is such a blessing. I encourage you to give it a try. I always start by baking a loaf of banana bread, making a pot of hot coffee and opening my door to my tribe. Whomever can come does and over the course of the hour or two, we share our hearts, bind them together with prayer and lift them before the Lord for His provision and blessing. As they leave there is a hug and a word of encouragement for each to hold until we can meet again.
Mary Lenaburg is a writer, speaker, wife and mother and has a heart for encouragement and healing sharing the truth that God’s mercy is bigger than your greatest shame. She has learned through her experiences that healing and hope live in fiery moments of grace and no matter what you are facing, God remains. Always.
Mary’s first book, Be Brave in the Scared: How I Learned to Trust God During my Most Difficult Days was published by Ave Maria Press in 2019. Mary and her husband live in Northern Virginia with their grown son Jonathan. They have been happily married for 31 years, finding joy among the ashes after losing their disabled daughter Courtney in 2014. She can be found at www.marylenaburg.com and across all social media platforms @marylenaburg
Mary’s Banana Bread
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini choc chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (tossed with one teaspoon of flour so they don’t sink in the batter).
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla; add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in nuts and choc chips.
Pour into a greased 9x5-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325° for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee or tea.