In the last two days, I wrote first here and then here about praying with someone else, and I have always been encouraged by two verses in chapter 18 of Matthew about the power of prayer when two agree together. It says:
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”
– Matthew 18:19 (NASB)
What an encouraging passage! I have claimed this verse many times in my life, praying with a friend, and understanding that there was a special connection with the Lord because two of us were agreeing together to petition the Father.
But then I started hearing from different sources that I was taking the verses out of context. In reality, the joy stealers told me, these verses are about church discipline, not prayer in general.
Well, I always want to have my theology straightened out or my understanding of God’s Word corrected, even if it means my personal disappointment. However, on a straightforward reading, these verses do seem to be talking about prayer, even if the previous context is also about church discipline.
Well, if you’ve ever wondered about this, you would be encouraged by this little note I found recently in Wayne Grudem’s book, Systematic Theology. Dr. Grudem’s teaching supports my earlier understanding of this verse and even says this: “Praying with others, then, is also right and often increases our faith and the effectiveness of our prayers.” He footnotes his section on praying with others with this thought:
“Although the previous four verses (vv.15–18) have to do with church discipline, the word “again” at the beginning of v. 19 signals a slight change in subject, and it is not inappropriate to take vv. 19–20 as a broader statement about prayer in general in the context of the church.”
So there you are – an encouragement to find a buddy and agree with him or her in prayer. The verse means just what it looks like it means: there is power in prayer, and apparently a special power when two or more agree together.