"I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three come together in My Name, there am I with them." [Mt 18:19-20]
There is no doubt in my mind that this particular teaching is going to step on many religious toes, but if we want to experience the power of agreement in prayer, then we must take heed and listen to what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church.
Jesus has made a promise to His people. He has made a statement concerning that which takes place in the heavens whenever two of His disciples come together in prayer. Jesus has promised that if two of His disciples on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by their Father in Heaven.
Sometimes Christians believe that in order for agreement in prayer to take place, they must be physically standing together in the same room, but this simply is not so. According to Jesus, the only thing that is required is that we come together in His Name, and this is something which we can do with others in spirit, even though we may not be able to pray with them physically. Jesus didn’t say, "If two of you in the same room, or the same church agree about anything...," ; He said, "If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in Heaven."
If Christ has given us this awesome promise, why then do we so often see so many prayers go unanswered even when 20, 30, or even hundreds may gather together in His Name in order to agree with one another in prayer? I’ve attended many church prayer meetings in the past, only to see them go nowhere and accomplish nothing in the end. How can this be, especially when the Son of God has given us a promise?
If we are going to agree together with others in prayer, it is important that we find prayer partners who are living right before the Lord. If we want there to be power in our agreement, we need to make sure that our lives, as well as the lives of those with whom we are agreeing, are producing the fruits of genuine discipleship in Christ.
Many people who call themselves Christians are not living according to the terms of discipleship as set forth by Jesus Christ. Instead, they have established their own terms of discipleship. When they approach the Lord in prayer, and those prayers go unheard and unanswered, they become confused, discouraged, and dismayed. In their mind, Jesus has made a statement that He was not willing to stand behind.
A church prayer meeting filled with carnal, world-loving, world-pursuing church members whose hearts are divided between God and the world isn’t going to go anywhere and will produce nothing in the way of results. But you let two people come together in prayer who are living according to the terms of genuine discipleship as set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ, and watch what God will do. Let two people come together in prayer who keep their flesh crucified on a daily basis in order that they might live under the leadership and by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, and see how Heaven will move.
When I’m looking for a prayer partner, I want a man or woman who has become deaf, dumb, and blind to this world and all it has to offer because his or her heart and mind are solely set on things above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. How about you? If you needed to find a prayer partner with whom you could agree in prayer before God for the healing of a loved one who was terminally ill, who would you choose? The individual who is lukewarm and apathetic in the faith he professes to embrace? The individual whose life, despite his profession of faith, does not reflect the terms of genuine discipleship in Christ? The man whose heart is divided between the world and Christ’s Kingdom? The woman who is enslaved to her flesh, spends no time with God in prayer or in His Word, thinks only of Him for one hour on Sunday morning, and then spends the rest of the week ignoring God’s commandments while pursuing the world? Brothers and sisters, is this the prayer partner we would hook up with if a child, spouse, or other loved one were lying in a hospital bed fighting for his or her life, and we desperately needed God to move in response to agreement in prayer?
When I look for a prayer partner, I want someone who lives and breathes God. I want someone whose spirit yearns for Him and whose heart aches for Him morning, noon, and night. I want someone who desires Him, and only Him, and who has given up everything in order to follow Him. I want someone who is not afraid to deny himself, take up his cross, and go where his flesh does not want to go. I want someone who has become deaf, dumb, and blind to this world and all that it has to offer because he or she has found in Christ the only Treasure worth living for and dying for. This is the individual I want to hook up with in prayer, not the other man.
Simply put, I would rather pray with one individual whose life is producing the fruits of genuine discipleship in Christ than with a thousand others who are simply ‘following’ Christ on their own man-made terms. Many times we hear the saying that there is strength in numbers, but when it comes to prayer, this simply is not so. Jesus said all you need are two people - two genuine disciples coming together - in order to petition the throne of God.
Tragically, our churches today are filled with men, women, and young people whose lives are not producing the fruits of genuine discipleship and who are ‘serving’ God on their own terms instead of the terms He set down for us. Then, when they come together to pray, they wonder why the Church’s prayers continue to go unanswered.
There was a time in my life when I would attend Mass on Sunday morning only to spend the rest of week pursuing the world, breaking God’s commandments, partying, and living a life in which self was at the center instead of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose disciple I professed to be. When I would pray, I could not understand why my prayers would go unanswered. Saint James wrote as follows: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." [Jas 5:16]. And yet, in my prayers there was no power and no effectiveness. Why not? The answer is simple. I was not living right before God. My life was not producing the fruit of genuine discipleship in Christ. Instead, I ‘served’ Him on my own terms instead of the ones that He set down for me.
Jesus has given us a promise, an awesome promise. If two of His disciples on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by their Father in Heaven. The Son of God is not a man that He should lie, nor does He make statements that He will not stand behind. But this is a promise that was made to His disciples, not to men and women who profess to follow Him yet live life their own way. A religious churchgoer does not a disciple make. A genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ will live a life of obedience to the Word of God. A genuine disciple of Christ will live a life that is centered around Him, not the world, and certainly not self.
Is your life producing the fruits of genuine discipleship? Is mine? How much have we truly come to understand what it means to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength? To what extent have we allowed God to flush the world and all that it has to offer out of our system in order that we might pursue the true riches and lasting treasure found only in Christ? Are we truly living for God, or are we living for self and the world with a little bit of God on the Sunday-morning side?
The Lord is calling us to examine our lives before Him. Are we seeing answers to our prayers? When we come together with others in order to agree with one another in prayer, are we seeing the power of God move in answer to those prayers?
Christ has given us a promise concerning agreement in prayer, but this promise is made only to those whose lives are producing the fruits of genuine discipleship and who are pursuing God on His terms, and not their own.
When people are truly living Christ-centered lives, this will also be reflected in the requests they make of Him. People who are truly living for Christ and His Kingdom will not come before Him and request the death of an enemy, the temporary riches and pleasures of this world, or other silly things which the world values. Because their hearts and minds are set on things above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand, the desires of their hearts will be on things above as well.
If God has given me a promise, and I find a genuine disciple in Christ with whom to agree before Him in prayer, will I utilize that sacred time in order to request a trip to Walt Disney World? Will I petition the throne of my Beloved for a remodeled kitchen or the winning lottery ticket? If I do, then I do not love Him as I ought, and I have yet to learn what it means to seek His Kingdom with all that is within me.
My brothers and sisters, there isn’t anything that our tenderhearted Father in Heaven will not do for His children. But are we His children? Are we living according to the terms of discipleship set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ, or are we simply playing religious games on Sunday morning?
The purpose of this message is not to discourage or to offend those for whom Christ died. It is a call to repentance. It is a call to self-examination, brothers and sisters. If we want our prayers to our Heavenly Father to be powerful and effective, then we must live life His way, and not our own way. The promise which Jesus has made is for those men and women who are truly His disciples, not for those who profess to be His disciples while ‘following’ Him on their own terms.
He who has a listening ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
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