“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14).
If it were possible to travel back it time to the days of the Bible, whom would we choose to be our prayer partner? Cain or Abel? Abraham or Lot? Samuel or Eli? Barnabas or Ananias and Sapphira? What if we were given the choice of praying with a multitude or a few believers, which would we choose? Who we pray with, and whom we ask to pray for us, is important in the eyes of God.
The apostle Paul knew the value of prayer offered up on his behalf, for knowing that someone is praying for us is a great encouragement. When the answer comes both parties can rejoice. “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf” (2 Corinthians 1:11). Should we ask lots of people to pray or just a few? Some think that God will answer quicker if we can muster up a large group of people to prayer on a given subject, but such a thing is never seen in Scripture. God works with the ones and the twos who faithfully intercede for the nation or pray over a specific situation. In fact Jesus in Matthew 6:6 tells us not to get a big intercessory band together, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Instead the Lord reveals whose prayers will be heard, “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” (Matthew 18:19). There is nothing wrong with a crowd of Christians praying together in unity, just as long as they do not think that God is impressed by numbers and is in some way forced to answer.
Who should we choose?
We might have a large number of Christian friends, but does it mean that we ought to ask them to pray with us or for us? The apostle Paul asked every church but two to pray for him. The two he left out were the Galatians and the Corinthians. He did not ask the Galatian church because they had diverted from the true Gospel of Christ and replaced it with the false doctrine of works for salvation. “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3). Neither did he request prayer from the Corinthian church because of their carnality. “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Only after they repented could they help in prayer.
We should be careful about our choice of prayer partners since God does not hear the prayers of everyone. He rejects the prayers of those whose lives are evil, “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood … But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 1:15, 59:2); those who oppress others, “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings” (Micah 3:4); those who refuse to obey His word, “Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 7:13); those who ask for selfish reason, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3); those who pray religiously, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7).
We see then just how important it is to pray with others of like mind. It would be foolish to have asked the members of the Laodicean church to pray for us, and there are many such churches in the world today. Until the end of the ages the words of James 5:16 will remain true, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”