“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
What encouraging verses! Full of promise…
The wonderful blessing about the Bible is that there is always the opportunity to get fresh insights and learn new principles. That happened to me just this last week.
For many years when praying with others–whether with seasoned saints, or in a group setting–inevitably there will be someone asking that we “agree with them” in prayer. I would wonder: Is there more power if someone AGREES with us in prayer?
They would pray something like: “Lord, you promise: if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them; …Thank You that You promise wherever two or three have gathered in Your name, You are there.”
The implication has been that if He is here, listening to our prayers, then naturally, He will say YES to whatever we are praying. (IF there are two or three of us agreeing, that is.) It felt kinda like a good luck charm. A genie in a bottle type of magic prayer. A name it, claim it and bag it kinda prayer.
It has made me uneasy for years, but I didn’t know why. I never bothered to look up the verse in context while someone was praying (Or even afterwards, either). These were seasoned saints. Mature Christians. It was a given. No questions asked. But it still felt off to me somehow. Yet, I just shrugged it off and went on with my life. Until I couldn’t anymore.
I have learned that if I wait long enough, God will reveal what has previously been a mystery. I LOVE when that happens.This last week, my Encounter with God daily devotional lesson was God’s instrument to enlighten me. God loves to surprise us like that!
Wonder of wonders! By reading verse 20 in context. (Matthew 18:15-20 NAS) as part of my assignment that day I discovered the TRUTH. And I finally understood my uneasiness. That verse was being taken out of context in those prayer meetings. It is a great verse, but it is not for the purpose of answering just any prayer we might pray. It is addressing a specific issue. It is actually part of a teaching of reconciliation in a Christian setting, where one person has gone astray and the TWO or THREE are those attempting to restore the ONE. The TWO or THREE are to be witnesses to the conversations about the offense or sin. Like in a court of law.
It is FIRST to be handled privately. If unsuccessful, then two or three witnesses go with the one. If that is unsuccessful, then it is taken before the church/group. And when done according to Scripture, the Lord will add His blessing, by being there with you through it all. He will never leave us or forsake us. Even if the ONE refuses to reconcile and goes their separate way.
It is a beautiful plan. But sadly, it doesn’t seem to be practiced much. The plan is hard work. It is focused work. Focused on the outcome of reconciliation for the ONE going astray. The enemy of our souls knows that it is much easier to get us distracted from the context of the verse, which is ultimately for the good of all.
(It is much “easier” to ask someone to agree with you in prayer, rather than doing the “grunt” work of restoration.)
“Care and a loving attitude should go hand in hand with such discipline…This is all very challenging, but Jesus promises His blessing on action properly taken to try to reconcile believers to one another.”
–Encounter with God (November 2022)
Discipline, Prayer, Reconciliation (Let’s recap it all … in Biblical context)
“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that ON THE]TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY MATTER MAY BE CONFIRMED. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Matthew 18: 15-20 NAS
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