We are more “connected” today than ever before—via email, text, social media and so on. We are often surrounded by people—in stores, at the office, in church. Most of us know far more people than our grandparents and great-grandparents ever did. Yet even so, feelings of disconnectedness and aloneness are not unusual.
And ironically enough, if you feel alone, you’re not alone! That’s just one of the many reasons I pray—because prayer is a team sport. Its Inventor made it that way. If you’ve ever played a team sport, you probably know something of the camaraderie and community that happens among teammates; for many, it lasts a lifetime.
When Jesus’ earliest disciples asked Him to reveal His prayer secrets, He said, “Pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven!’” (Matthew 6:9 CJB). He continued in the same vein: “Give us,” “Forgive us,” “Deliver us,” and so on. Jesus knew something beautiful and powerful about prayer that we often miss.
When you pray, you pray with Jesus; He is the Advocate of all “who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf” (Hebrews 7:25 NLT).
When you pray, you pray with the Holy Spirit, who “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26 ESV).
When you pray, you pray with the whole church, the “communion of saints” around the world in the unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17.
Have you ever wondered why, when we feel a deep or urgent need, we ask others to pray for us? Is it because our own solo prayers aren’t good enough? Of course not. It’s because prayer is a team sport. Prayer connects us with others. It assuages our loneliness. It links us to a family of faith.
Prayer teaches us to be open and vulnerable. It opens our hearts to the hearts of others; it binds us together in the unity of the Spirit. It imparts strength and hope, from God, yes, but also from others who care, like Aaron and Hur holding up the arms of Moses (see Exodus 17:12). It increases and enhances our sense of belonging. As prayer draws us closer to God, it draws us closer to others as they, too, approach Him.