Editor's note:

In a piece excerpt­ed from Becom­ing Like Jesus: Prayer-Filled Life,” Chris Webb reminds us of the bless­ing of cor­po­rate prayer. In the very act of gath­er­ing togeth­er with the same com­mu­ni­ty, week after week, year after year, we can draw unex­pect­ed strength and spir­i­tu­al vital­i­ty. We invite you to con­sid­er anew today how pray­ing with the Church can wrap you in its life of prayer.”

—Renovaré Team

Per­haps the great­est sin­gle resource avail­able to those who want to nur­ture a stronger life of prayer is the local church com­mu­ni­ty. Because our cul­ture places such a high pre­mi­um on nov­el­ty, vari­ety, and enter­tain­ment, many of us under­val­ue the con­tri­bu­tion our church­es make to our rela­tion­ship with God. I have often had the priv­i­lege of speak­ing at spe­cial con­fer­ences and events, where peo­ple often reflect on how they arrived dry and tired, and leave feel­ing refreshed, renewed, and invig­o­rat­ed. That, of course, is one of the great ben­e­fits such a spe­cial event can offer. In the end, of course, the feel­ing tends to wear off, but for a time it pro­vides a much need­ed shot in the arm.

It can be hard­er, though, to notice the incred­i­ble strength we draw from the pre­dictable, some­times unvary­ing, often low-key prayer and wor­ship we expe­ri­ence Sun­day after Sun­day. We gath­er togeth­er with peo­ple whom we have come to know well, whose lives we share week by week. Togeth­er we bring before God the needs of our fam­i­lies, friends, com­mu­ni­ty, and world. We return over and again to the same needs, the same dif­fi­cul­ties. It is here that we real­ly learn the most valu­able lessons in prayer. Per­sis­tence, some­times over many years. Hon­esty. Strug­gle. Sim­plic­i­ty of words. The long obe­di­ence in the same direction.

And these are the peo­ple who con­tin­ue our prayer when we our­selves can pray no more. One of the most beau­ti­ful and help­ful ideas I have drawn from the tra­di­tion­al, litur­gi­cal church­es is that prayer belongs to the church. When­ev­er I pray — whether alone or with oth­ers — I am nev­er offer­ing my prayer alone; I am always join­ing the prayer of the Church. When I am unable to pray, because I am too tired, or unwell, or despair­ing, or dry, or sor­row­ful, the prayer does not cease. The Church con­tin­ues to pray, to wrap me in its life of prayer. And when I am able, I resume my part in the life of prayer, per­haps in turn hold­ing up oth­ers who are falling. In the end, I do not pray. We pray.

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