The public reading of Scripture and corporate prayer
There are many things done in churches out of tradition. Things that were you to ask a random congregation member about why those things are done, they would have no explanation to give, least of all being able to point out the biblical conviction driving that practice. At GracePoint Church, we want to be motivated primarily by what the Bible says so that we are not merely excited by what we are doing but why we are doing it. This is especially true when it comes to the public reading of Scriptures and prayer.
Firstly, it’s important to see that public reading of Scripture is commanded. “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Paul writing to Timothy tells him to devote i.e. to commit time and resources, to the public reading of Scripture to preaching and to teaching. We believe that it is the commitment to the public reading of Scripture that gives power to preaching and teaching. It shows that the authority is not in the preacher but in the God who speaks through His Word. It also allows the congregation to hold the preacher accountable to teach the Word faithfully so that the men who are preaching and teaching are not sharing their opinions but the truth of God’s Word; it allows them to be like the Bereans (Acts:17:11).
This means that at GracePoint we want to be taking the public reading of Scripture seriously. We want to ensure that we are doing it before we hear that part of God’s Word explained to us. We want our readers to take the exercise seriously so that it is not merely reading as through a grocery list, but reading clearly, audibly and with feeling so that the Word comes alive even before it is explained to us.
We also engage with corporate prayer in similar manner. We firstly rejoice that it is commanded, or at least implied in Jesus’ words to His disciples when he taught them to pray in Luke 11:1-2, “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.” Note that Jesus is addressing the disciples together and assumes that they will surely pray together. In Matthew’s gospel, the implication to the corporate nature of prayer is emphasized by the way the prayer starts, “Our Father in heaven. . .” Jesus is assuming that his disciples will pray together. This is why the church prays together.
But how are we to pray, when we pray together? We are to call on our heavenly Father, yearning for His reign to be established over all the earth. We are to present to him our dependence on his gracious provision and we are to pray that we would live in a manner that reflects us being his children (Matt. 6:9-13). This is what we aim for at GracePoint Church.