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Private Versus Corporate Expressions of Prayer and Praise

January 26, 2022

How do you nurture your private communion with the Lord?

Private Versus Corporate Expressions of Prayer and Praise

By Brooke Holt

“Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” - 1 Corinthians 14:13-15

You have likely heard the phrase, “Anytime you see a therefore, you need to ask what it is there for.” Why does Paul use this word right here in this letter? “Therefore” is a conjunctive adverb which serves to link together Paul’s previous statement with this admonition. Verse 12 reads, “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” How does one excel in building the church? Thankfully, Paul was quite each eager to teach the spiritual principles for the building of the body of Christ.

He makes this application through distinguishing between private prayer/praise and corporate prayer/praise. When speaking in tongues in a corporate setting, there must be an interpreter, so Paul instructed those believers to seek to become that interpreter. However, there is no need for an interpreter in private prayer and praise. When it is just you and the Lord, you can fully give yourself over to praying and praising God with the gift of tongues. That special time is for your personal edification, so it is right and good for you to do this.

Praying in tongues is certainly beneficial for one’s spirit to connect with the Lord. However, it is not beneficial to the mind and does not exclude the need for other spiritual practices. Praying in tongues does not replace the reading and studying of Scripture; it does not replace corporate worship and the need to hear the Word of God taught and preached. And certainly, while spiritual communion with God is vital, so is communion with the people of God.

Pray and praise in the Spirit at home but when you come to church, and you must come to church, pray and praise with your mind so that all around you are edified. Paul would continue to commend the seeking and exercising of the gifts but to discern between what is for private prayer and praise and what is for public prayer and praise.

Reflection:
How do you nurture and exercise your private communion with the Lord? What about public times of prayer and praise? Since Covid, many of God’s people have only been in their private realms. Ask the Lord to help you discern if you have the proper balance between private and corporate prayer and praise. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

Related Resource:

Draw Near

Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!




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