Reading Ephesians chapter 6 over and over again and pondering this idea...
Can a believer 'pray in the Spirit' alone or is it a corporate experience of agreement in prayer?'
I have to say that I'm leaning towards the later of the two.
"...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints," - Ephesians 6:18 ESV
This whole chapter is about individuals functioning in Church culture. The relationships. The theology. The armor of God is not a literal armor. The doctrine taught in the assembly functions as armor. Salvation should be taught as a hard helmet and not a paper hat. Righteousness is a breastplate. Truth should facilitate movement. The Gospel gets us outdoors. Faith protects us. The sword should be sharp and useful and those who use it should be practiced in it's use.
And prayer... Oh, prayer...
Praying should be done with people for people.
We pray alone but we also pray with people and when we do it is 'in the Spirit'. Our individual prayer life affects our corporate prayer and vice versa.
There is nothing like praying together in unity or singing together as one. There is nothing like when the sermon comes with such clarity and power that every mind in earshot is hanging on every word.
If you have divisive doctrine that keeps you from assembling it might be good to question it's worth because it may be protecting you in some way but it also is keeping you from this great unique privilege.
I am no one and I 'know nothing as I aught to' but today I read this chapter and ponder the mystery of the body of Christ. Jesus Himself is manifested in the group of believers that gather and pray. A sometimes small group that asks and changes history because they did.
Amazing. Really it is.
I've had times when the group is praying and I am 'out of sync'... It serves as a barometer for my individual prayer life. It might be that the person praying is carnal but at other times it is because I am. There is no condemnation. The realization wakes me up from my slumber and gets me back in the mix.
No group. No barometer. God will use other things. He uses many things... but corporate prayer is something He has given us in this age and it is precious and vital.
It is my conviction that a healthy community is not possible without corporate prayer.