Did you ever wonder why Jesus taught us to pray using phrases like; “Give us…”, “Lead us”, “Forgive us”? Doesn’t it seem strange that, in what we would consider to be an intimate one-on-one moment with God, He would have us use words that quite clearly bring others into the moment.
Maybe that’s the problem. You see I’ve always been taught that you pray on your own, in your prayer closet, on your knees, or out away from others because the idea is that you first need to achieve some sort of transcendent moment where you become acutely aware of only your presence and God’s. And the times where you pray corporately, well that’s just to help those who don’t pray so well on their own. but maybe there’s more to it than that.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus showed us the intimate prayer life we’re supposed to have as well. Garden of Gethsemane – case in point. So I’m not discounting that. But you see for Jesus he understood prayer from within the culture that He was raised in. A culture that taught, and still teaches today, that when you pray, you’re praying with others. When you worship, you worship with others. When you hurt, others hurt with you. And when you rejoice others join in on your Joy. From a Jewish perspective there is no real separation between your relationship with God and the impact it has on the community you are a part of.
But today we’ve lost a part of that Community Awareness. I don’t just mean being aware that there is a community around you, but an awareness that understands that when you sin the community is affected by sin, when you forgive the community forgives along with you, when you are lead into temptation the community is lead with you, and when God provides your ‘daily bread’, He does so for the whole community.
Perhaps the idea is that we don’t just include our community/family/friends/church/etc at the end of our prayer closet time like a shopping list of others to pray for before I can sign off with God. But maybe, when we pray, we should be perceptibly aware that our lives have been inextricably interwoven into the lives of others, and that is how God sees us. As a community.