Are you able to complete this verse from Matthew 18:20? “Where two or three…are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Most of us likely think about this verse as a reminder that God is with us when we pray – that we shouldn’t think God needs big prayer groups in order to be present. Certainly this is true.
This verse was recently on my mind in a different way, however, as I considered a schedule change for a women’s prayer time that I organize at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary where I work. Reaching perhaps a high of nine women, the group has been meeting weekly for several years.
We begin by reading a Proverb based upon the day (Proverbs 5 for March 5, etc.), and we consider an attribute of God for which to give thanks as we pray about the various concerns on our own hearts.
This year participation has been lower. Husbands are in class. Shopping needs to be done. Children get sick. New babies are born. Some have to work during the day when we meet. Other worthy options, like church Bible studies, complete for the calendar. Where two or three... sometimes just two. It can be discouraging.
But as I reflected upon Matthew 18:20, I realized any discouragement on my part is not from thinking that God is not present. As Reformed Christians, we know that God is omnipresent. And even little ones memorizing The Children’s Catechism (Q. 10) know the answer to this simple question: “Where is God?” “God is everywhere.” So what’s the issue for people like us? Well, just perhaps, our problem with small prayer groups is that they are, well, small. We don’t doubt God’s presence; we’re disappointed by the lack of the presence of others! We are numbers driven people, where more is always better. We are so foolish!
Perhaps we need to remember that because God is present, two or three ought to pray! I’m not presenting this as an exegetical insight from the passage, but rather as a corrective for myself. If I know God is present (and I do!), then my only reason for discouragement is that more people aren’t present. Where two or three…
I want to share with you want happened at one of our recent “where two or three are gathered” prayer meetings. This time, it was just two – again! I shared a concern for a friend and her husband who was waiting for the Lord to call him home. Rieko always prays in Japanese, but I heard my friends’ names, and it warmed my heart. Later that day, I texted my friend the following: “Just in case you wondered if someone might be praying for you in Japanese today, the answer is yes! Today was our women’s prayer time. Only me and one Japanese wife. Me praying in English, her in Japanese – praying for you both.” My friend responded, “That fills me with happiness.” Just 24 hours later, her husband was with the Lord.
Now, I had prayed extensively for this friend and her husband. But I uniquely prayed for her with my Japanese friend that day, because two were gathered. And I am thankful. And my dear friend who was losing her best friend was encouraged.
So, for those of us who know with certainty that God is always present, we need to pray. Even, and perhaps especially, “where two or three are gathered.”