It is indeed a breath-taking affirmation which our Lord makes in Matthew 18:19, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” There is just no limit, says the Saviour, in effect, to the power of this kind of prayer. The question naturally arises, “Why?” The answer leads us deep into the mystery of the Church in union with her divine Head, and the union which in the thought of God should prevail among those who form the body of Christ, which is the Church.
The sort of agreement which our Lord has in mind is something which no human agency can bring about. It goes deeper than the ties of race or caste or family, or any other bond between hearts. It is the fruit of a common union with Christ. Between two who own Him as Lord and who are possessed of His Spirit, there is a oneness which the Saviour likens to the oneness which is His with the Father (see John 17:23). Where such a fusion of spirits takes place, Christ Himself is present as He affirms in the following verse (Matt. 18:20), “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Now it follows as an inevitable consequence that where such a chain exists, where two are one by His Spirit with the Lord Jesus Himself as the reigning Sovereign, Head of the Church, a wrong kind of praying including purely human aspirations of a more or less selfish nature, is simply not possible. A union such as that mentioned in the Scriptures can only exist where God is supreme as the unseen link, unseen but real as nothing else in all the universe is real, and where all lesser motives are lost sight of in an all-consuming desire that He might be glorified. It stands to reason that prayer from such a foundation and such a spring must have a scope and power that cannot be measured. It is even as our Lord affirms aud nothing less:
“If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
One alone, however great his spiritual stature, cannot do this kind of praying nor achieve such results. That it may be the body, the entire Church represented, it must be at least two. Naturally, there is a crescendo, an ever-enhancing power, as the number increases. But as the number increases and the power, so do the difficulties in obtaining such a oneness as the Saviour postulates. Oh, if the Church could realize what
lies within her grasp for the redemption of souls and the establishment of the Kingdom of God, in the realm of corporate intercession, surely she would be willing, as we read in Galatians 5:24, to “crucify the flesh” with its warring aims and its factional goals, and so stand in that oneness which is so quickly brought about when the Holy Spirit is in control and has full sway.
The classic Biblical illustration of the power of prayer as it emanates from such a spring is found in Acts twelve, where we have the story of Peter’s imprisonment in Jerusalem. King Herod had killed James, the brother of John, with the sword and had proceeded further to take Peter also. What an hour for the struggling infant Church surrounded by such relentless forces bent on her destruction. The words of Scripture are graphic: “Peter therefore was kept in prison, but prayer was made without ceasing of the
church unto God for him.” Little wonder that such a mighty miracle (and I use the term advisedly) was wrought. I shall quote the entire passage as it is in Acts 12:7-10:
And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out…When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city…and they went out, and passed on through one
street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
The kind of praying that brought these results, human nature being what it is, is well-nigh impossible to attain. The “flesh” is strong, and as we read in Galatians five, its works are divisions, hatred, variance and
strife. Yet when the Cross is applied to the citadel of the heart where secret pride is enthroned and a thorough crucifixion of the “self-life” is wrought, such a union of spirits comes about in a natural way, and prayer of this invincible order becomes a stupendous reality.
I have just witnessed it in Colombia where Christians are going through the fires of persecution, homes and temples are being burned and believers are being put to the sword. Such an experience fuses spirits into one. It was so in Jerusalem when the Church prayed without ceasing for Peter in chains awaiting execution.
During the celebration of the first centenary of the coming of the Gospel to Colombia, great gatherings were planned to be held in the leading cities. The Church with her different denominations, independent groups, and missions of one “persuasion” and another, moved as one. It was wonderful beyond words! It was like a great orchestra with its leader, in perfect harmony under one will. The results were exactly what the Saviour says about prayer when Christians are one in the Holy Spirit. Prayers were answered in such an overwhelming fashion that the days passed as a never-ending chain of victories. Only at one place was there a stoning, and that without real harm to anyone’s person. God wrought the impossible. The great
celebrations with evangelistic campaigns, united choirs singing the praises of the Lord and Bible retreats, were held without a serious mishap, all in a spirit of victory and joy unspeakable.
Some years ago a fellow missionary and I labored among the soldiers of the land of my adoption, preaching the Gospel. This went on for five years in and out of camps and up and down the highways of the nation, which in those days were guarded by soldiers. The experience in prayer was, so to speak, worth a million. My fellow missionary and I were so perfectly one in spirit that we had only to ask the Lord, and it was given. We lived in a world of miracles like those of the Book of Acts. Nothing daunted us. We had only to
ask, I repeat, and it was given. The difficulties from the natural, human angle were of no significance. Had not the Saviour said, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be
done for them of my Father which is in heaven ” He had said it, and that was sufficient. And as we prayed and believed, we found the promise to be true.
Discouraged prayer warrior, find a prayer companion with whom you can perfectly natural, one with whom you can stand in a perfect spirit of oneness in a common Saviour, and enter with this one upon a glorious
adventure of prayer. If you cannot find such a prayer partner, ask the Lord to raise him up for you. It shall be done. A new day will dawn of such a glory and beauty as you never dreamed was possible this side of heaven.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed.” Do you wonder that an earthquake shook the prison where they lay bound? Does it seem strange that this same night Paul and Silas, freed from the stocks, were able to lead the prison keeper to a knowledge of Christ? Not when we consider the Saviour’s word, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
The missionary stands in a peculiar position with never-ending opportunities to prove the power of prayer. Some years ago in this land to which my heart is now bound by ties which are only forged in the propagation of the cause of Christ, Communism came in as a flood which threatened to overthrow “the old order and take over the country.” Education was revamped on a basis of atheism; night after night from radio stations blasphemy was poured out over the land; a terrific tension gripped hearts, and fear with paralyzing power took over. A group of pastors and missionaries came together to see what could he done. The conclusion was that the only hope was divine intervention. Had not the Lord said, “Call unto me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee”? The decision was to meet each morning at six-thirty for prayer, and to hold on until deliverance came.
Weeks went by and then months while they held firm in prayer. Never a morning did the prayer warriors fail. They found themselves in a mighty conflict with the powers of darkness. They wrestled not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers. They represented different denominations, but all thought of sectarianism was lost. In the awful crisis of the hour they became absolutely one in Christ. One great passion consumed them. For six months in the early morning hours they bombarded heaven with strong crying and tears. These were not formal gatherings for prayer. Pastors and missionaries were down on their faces before God pleading the promise and claiming the victory in Jesus’ name.
And then one glad morning after six months of groaning in the Spirit before the throne of grace, one of the pastors came in with the morning paper. There was the answer. The president had dismissed the “Reds” from the cabinet and had turned right-about-face. The dark cloud that had been upon the nation lifted. The Sun of Righteousness appeared with healing in His wings. The backbone of the monster was broken. God had laid bare His mighty arm and had wrought a glorious deliverance. Fear was gone. Joy flowed like a river which swept everything before it. There was gladness like in the days of Queen Esther. As I listened not long after to a local radio station, I was moved beyond measure. “Lord Jesus, I love thee, asleep in the hay,” was the song. Years have gone by, and there is no sign of the monster’s return to power. Oh, yes, if we will only agree according to the Saviour’s promise, there is no limit to the power of prayer.
(The above material was taken from Prayer’s Deeper Secrets.)
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