For those of us familiar with the “Crossroads Movement” and “Boston Movement” of the 1970’s and forward, the term “prayer partners” has received a black eye. I will forgo the details, but the sad truth is that because of abuse of power and misuse of authority many heartbreaking scars and devastated relationships occurred. The aftermath of which left many otherwise good and spiritually helpful practices with terrible reputations. Among these practices to fall into disrepute was “prayer partners.”
I suppose that over the past 2000 years, just about everything we believe and do in the Christian faith has been considered dangerous by someone somewhere. Consider today’s American shift toward embracing homosexual practice as a normal, healthy, morally upright lifestyle. In light of our new legalization of so called, “gay marriage,” the biblical instruction that condemns such behaviors is considered not just out of touch, but hateful, bigoted and even dangerous. Christians who hold to biblical definitions of sexual moral practice now appear as extremists. The pressure of culture has a powerful formation element for conformity to its own standards. Woe to those who resist.
How does one withstand the pressures of ungodly hipster ways? What mental, emotional and spiritual equipment do those need that would openly move in counter cultural ways? In a world that sees only shades of gray, how can anyone declare things black or white?
The Bible gives us several examples of God’s servants who stood when all others sat, and who sat when all others stood, even at the risk of their lives. And they did what they believed was God’s will in the midst of profound persecution. This they did without pride or for material gain. But almost all of them did it in company with at least one other person who stood beside them, or at the knowledge that others were in full support of them and in full agreement with them.
Prayer partnership supplies just such a strength. Jesus sent his disciples out by twos. Every example of mission work in scripture exhibits this companionship model of two or more. I know of nothing like it as a source of strength for standing strong in the midst of the storms that blow against godliness and Christian faith. In Genesis 2 God said, “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” This, in principle, is the beginning of prayer partnership. Christ’s instruction to us is a “one another” system where each person is part of the body of Christ and each needs others to function. Systems that have shaped the world have all been “one another” systems. All systems have leaders and followers. The Christian “system” is led by God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God Himself is a unity. Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we who believe and become disciples through repentance and baptism into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, are united in Him and led by Him to live for Him, like Him, through Him, and with Him. Our Christian unity with Christ unites us together by His Spirit through His word with one another. Our unity in Christ empowers us to life and likeness with God’s own character of holiness.
Today’s worldly pressure is rising against the Christian character of God’s holiness. We need to recover the equipment God has given us to be able to stand firm in the Lord and walk in His will when it is out of step with everyone around us.