Pull Together in Prayer
The Roman scutum was a concave shield that was 43 inches high and 34 inches wide. The soldier could use the scutum for both offense and defense. Personal protection is important, but when he pulled together with other soldiers, the scutum's effectiveness increased exponentially.
In times of intense attack, a unit of Roman soldiers pull in tight. The soldiers on the edges joined together, shield to shield, to create an impregnable wall that surrounded the unit. Those in the middle would raise their scutum to form a bunker of sorts, safe from the enemy archers. With their scutum pulled together, the unit would become like a walking tank. Enemy assailants would wear themselves out pointlessly swinging swords trying to penetrate the wall of shields to no avail. The exhausted enemy then became easy prey for the Roman counter-attack.
In Ephesians 6 Paul calls for the followers of Christ to put on the whole armor of God (shield included). But that's not all. He also calls them to pull together.
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.Ephesians 6:18-19
God's design is not for us to live the Christian life in singular, but in plural. Christianity is not spiritual isolation, but faith community. It's not "my" prayer life, but "our" prayer life.
How is the prayer life of your church or small group? In most cases, we call on "someone" to pray while everyone else listens. The picture of the Roman unit using the scutum is a great illustration of a Biblical principle of prayer. Jesus pointed us toward agreement in prayer. He did not compel the church to pick someone to pray, but to agree together in prayer (Matthew 18:19-20).
If you practice community prayer where one voice is heard, make sure that others are not just listening, but agreeing together in prayer.
We read in Ephesians 6 that the devil is a schemer (6:11). In most faith communities, prayer time means to take a few requests and pray off the cuff. But notice that Paul calls for perseverance in prayer. So what's the long-view, strategic plan of prayer for your group? Are you all monitoring Satan's schemes and praying strategically against them? Are you persevering in prayer, or are you just mentioning things to pray about and then giving them to God for 15 seconds?
Paul says we should be making supplication for all the saints. Supplication means requests. Prayer is asking.
One of the reasons prayer is ineffective in the Christian community is because it is not specific. We are asking God for good days and blessings, but not making specific supplications. An effective prayer strategy is one that is specific enough that the answers are measurable. Specified prayer becomes urgent prayer.
Read Matthew 18:15-20.
- What does this passage teach us about the process of restoration for a sinning brother?
- List principles of prayer contained in this passage.
- How are you inspired to praise Jesus from this passage?
Pull together a group of people with whom you can engage in long-term, persevering prayer that is strategic in its focus. If you are already in a small group, help your church focus on agreement in prayer and praying about strategic, specific things rather than generalities.