I've always been a curious person, including (and maybe especially in) matters of faith. I like having a solid intellectual grounding for my faith; hence I read authors like C.S. Lewis and John Owen. My desire to know everything about my faith has caused trouble at times, since if I know everything about God can I really say I still believe anything on faith? (Also the fact that there are things about Him I can't know yet) So He's been teaching me to set my questions aside sometimes and just believe; other times He teaches me really cool stuff! But prayer is one question that's been burning in me for a long time, and that I really hope God will answer, possibly through the wisdom of my brothers and sister in Christ!
My intellectual issues with prayer have evolved slowly over time. Before I started thinking about it, I just prayed, largely out of habit. As time went on I stopped praying as much, reasoning that if God already knows what we need and provides for us, why ask? Later I concluded that the main point of prayer is simply spending time talking to God growing in relationship with Him, which I would still say today. But I learned there is a point to praying for things. I read a George McDonald quote which reads,
But if God is so good as you represent Him, and if He knows all we need, and better far than we do ourselves, why should it be necessary to ask Him for anything?" I answer, What if He knows Prayer to be the thing we need first and most? What if the main object in God's idea of prayer is the supplying of our great, our endless need--the need of Himself?...to bring His child to his knee, God withholds that we may ask.Maybe God only gives us what we ask for if we trust Him enough to ask for it. I don't claim that prayer is some kind of cause-and-effect thing--pray X number of hours and out pops a new bike or anything like that--but I believe that there is power in prayer for change, and it's worth it!
Anyway, that's all background. So my private prayer life on project was pretty good, especially after discovering that quote. But corporate prayer sessions were, and continue to be, a struggle for me. When listening to others pray my mind tends to wander; I want to be participating, but what am I supposed to be doing? Just listening? Praying along silently? It's just an awkward time for me, and I sometimes feel that I'd rather just be praying by myself. But presumably there is some benefit to believers gathering in faith and praying together rather than all on their own. But what? Is it to encourage one another?
So this blog post is really more of an open question. If anyone with more wisdom on the subject than me has anything to share; Bible verses pertaining to corporate prayer, experience of really being blessed by praying in a group, or anything else, please do so