Introductory 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.