At first reading this verse (Matthew 18:9) makes praying with others appear very easy – as if all we need to do is decide what we’re going to ask for and it’ll be done! However, the word ‘agree’ means much more than reaching a consensus together, or the lack of disagreement. The Greek word is Sumphoneo (from sun = together, and phone = sound), and so its literal meaning is to ‘sound together’. It has the same root as our English word ‘Symphony’.
If we think about a symphony orchestra, it’s vital that each member is in tune with the others, and also that each instrument is tuned to perfect pitch. Without that, just one person sounding a discordant note will spoil the whole piece. In the same way, as we pray together, we need to be in tune with one another, but what’s even more important, in tune with God and perfectly lined up with the truth in His Word. Otherwise our prayers won’t flow with the unity of agreement that Jesus is talking about.
In a symphony orchestra timing is also important. The conductor directs the players, and they need to keep their eyes on him, following his direction for expression and timing. And that’s how it should be when we pray together. Each one of us should be looking to God for direction, waiting for His timing to bring our contribution. Sometimes the percussionist, for instance, has to wait patiently for the right moment to bring the clash of cymbals which might be his only contribution. If done too early or too late, it could ruin the whole piece of music!
When considering what agreement in prayer means we need to look at the context of this verse. It is sandwiched between Jesus’ teaching on what to do when someone sins against us, and His teaching on forgiveness. The ‘symphony’ of agreement in prayer can only be there if we’ve first tried to deal with any grievances we may have in a right way, with the aim of restoring relationships, and also if we’ve forgiven everyone who’s sinned against us, from our hearts. Then we’ll be able to expect that what we ask for will be done for us by our Father in heaven.
Prayer: Father, please forgive me for not always being in tune with You and Your Word, and for holding on to grievances and un-forgiveness against others. Help us, as Your Body, to flow together in agreement in a way that will please You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.