If Two of You Shall Agree

by J. R. Miller, 1912

Why two? Would it not be the same for one? Is not the gate of prayer open to everyone? May not a lonely soul anywhere call upon God and be sure of answer? Why then does the Master say two—"If two of you shall agree--the prayer will be granted?" Certainly he did not mean that God does not hear one who prays alone. Jesus ofttimes prayed by himself. He went apart from his disciples up the mountain, into the depths of the Garden. Yet there is a special promise when two agree.

For one thing, when two pray together, each is drawn out of self to think of something besides his own needs. We are naturally selfish. We easily form the habit of thinking only of our own things, of seeking only our own good, of looking only after our own interests. One of the tendencies of praying alone, is to ask for only things we need or desire for ourselves. "Forgive my sins, prosper my affairs, heal my sickness, bless my daily bread, make me holy, give me joy," our prayer is apt to run. To pray only thus, is to allow ourselves to narrow our life into sheerest selfishness.

We may pray alone and yet train ourselves to think of others, to reach out to the needs and experiences of others. Only thus will we make our secret prayers spiritually wholesome.

When we pray together the selfish tendency is corrected. We think of the other and his condition. We are trained to sympathize with him in his trouble, to reach out our hand to strengthen him when he is weak. We forget our own danger--in thinking of his. His needs seem so much greater and more pressing than ours--that we plead for his deliverance and altogether forget our own. We beseech God to lift away his crushing burden--and cease to think at all of our own lesser load. Our own sorrow, which, if there were no other one suffering by our side, would seem immeasurably great--seems now, too small even to mention in the presence of our friend's overpowering grief; so we pray for his comforting and only thank God that our affliction is so light.

Another good that comes from two praying together, is in the influence of life upon life. We need the impact of others. We cannot reach our best alone. It is a happy thing for one child in a home when another child comes to be its companion. A child living alone is in danger of growing into selfishness and all undiscipline. It never learns to share its possessions, its happiness. When two children are brought up together they are trained to think of each other, each to give up for the other, to seek to make the other happy. One of the blessings of marriage, is that the two learn to live for each other. Then they inspire each other. The woman who thinks only of what she can get from her marriage, has not begun to learn the real secret of love. Wedded love reaches true splendor, only when it thinks of can do for the other. When we pray together, the one quickens the other and both become better Christians. When two love God and then talk about him, the love of both grows warmer. One stimulates the other.

We need companionship in our Christian life. It is not good for us to be alone. Jesus had a wise purpose in sending out his disciples two by two. They would have been lonely if they had gone out singly, and would not have done their best work. Thus the one supplemented the other. Two together, did more than two apart. They had their limitations of capacity, and one supplied the other's lack. But perhaps the chief advantage in going out two and two, was that each kindled and inspired the other. We do not know how much we owe to each other. Our unconscious influence on the life and actions of those close to us is immeasurable.

Peter's rugged force acted on John's sensitive nature at the empty tomb. John hesitated to enter until Peter came up and went in boldly. "Then the other disciples entered in also." We do not know how often or in how many ways the older disciples quickened the younger. Soldiers say that the hardest of all experiences in battle is to stand or fight alone. Two together make each other brave. We do better work and live our life better in every way, two by two, than we would do separately.

Again, when two pray together they will be more likely to widen their intercessions. We may not appreciate the value of prayer for others. Jesus lived with his Father in unbroken communion—but we are sure that the burden of his prayer was for others, for his disciples, for the need and suffering ever about him. The best work we can do for those we love, usually is prayer. Of course there are things love should do—acts of kindness, ministries of good; we must never withhold help that is needed. But ofttimes we cannot tell what really is kindness to another. Perhaps the effort we make to help only harms. The taking away of a friend's burden may only interfere with the plan of God for making the friend strong. Much of our helping is over-helping. It would be better, to let our friends struggle through themselves without relieving them. When we see people with their loads, their cares, their difficulties, their hard tasks, we really do not know what we ought to do for them, or whether we ought to do anything but encouragement them.

But we may always pray for them, and perhaps this in most cases, prayer is all we can wisely do. At least prayer is always a safe way of helping. We need never be afraid that it will do them harm, for we only ask God to give the help that is wise, and that will make them better, nobler, stronger and truer. We may not ask God to make all hard things easy for them—we may ask only that he will watch that the burden is never too heavy for them, the temptation too sore, the sorrow too great, and that they never faint or fail. Always, prayer is love's great duty! Pray for whom you love! Not to pray, is to sin against one's friend and against God. People always need our prayers. Those need them most, who seem to have least need. We pray readily for those in trouble—but those in no apparent trouble are in greatest peril.