For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. – Matt. 18:20 KJV
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Jesus Christ on those occasions where he had to address his disciples hardly sticks to one topic and this particular occasion was no different. In his usual characteristic manner, Chapter eighteen of the book of Matthew had opened with him giving a teaching on who the greatest in the kingdom of God was. He talked of the need for all to be humble and the need for anyone with childlike disposition not to be taken advantage of as it will have serious consequences.
He went further to touch on the topic of offences, being something that must happen followed by the need to avoid at all costs, anything that will lead one into offences. He did not miss the opportunity to let his disciples know how to resolve issues if someone feels offended by the other before reminding the disciples of the power that is inherent in spiritual unity.
In that advise which forms the basis of today’s scripture, he lets them realise that where two or three are gathered in His name, the likelihood of their request being granted is very high. That is a very huge information that was provided by Jesus Christ and mostly referred to today by many Christians. However, many Christians do not have so much testimony of positive events being associated with such gatherings today and that leaves a question mark on the inherent advantage of those gatherings. Does it mean that the statement is not valid or its validity has expired? Definitely, none of these two possibilities is right. There may then be the need to review the statement for a better understanding.
The first thing to observe with the statement is that it is an assertion. It was not a probability statement but one made with assurance of what will happen so it should be an expected result but reality in most cases is not the same. The statement opens with the adverb “where” which refers to a location or a situation. With the use of that word, location will not be considered a hindrance if one was to activate this pronouncement so irrespective of the physical state of the location, fulfilment of the other conditions will successfully trigger this declaration. There are basically two other conditions to be fulfilled which are the minimum number of people that can trigger the clause and the basis for their gathering.
It is indeed curious that this declaration cannot be triggered by one person irrespective of the spiritual state and ability of the person. No matter how spiritually gifted this person is, he or she will not be able to benefit from this declaration. It had to be a minimum of two. This is not too surprising either, considering the fact that God has always emphasised the advantage of operating in synergy. At the point of creation, he emphasised the need for man to have help since it will not be good for man to operate singly (Gen. 2:18) and the report of Moses about how God was able to chase a thousand enemies with one person but chased ten thousand enemies with two – Deut. 32:30 also confirms how God performs better in unity. The numbers in that scripture definitely cannot be explained by any of the known mathematical laws but it definitely reveals the ability of God to achieve greater victory of supernatural dimension with more than one person. So Christ saying this, would be a reminder of what God can do with a number more than one and the possibility of what can be done as the number increases further is better imagined.
But numbers are hardly a problem when Christians pray, either in their homes, offices, prayer houses, etc., because no matter how small the gathering may be, it will definitely have more than one person for it to be a gathering. The use of the word “gather” presupposes that it cannot be one person as one person cannot assemble so why are testimonies from such locations still very scanty if it exists at all. The reason must lie in the third point which is found in the phrase “in my name”. To gather in someone’s name is to imply any or all of the following:
1. The personality in whose name they are gathered called for that gathering. Such a gathering in that situation will have a timing and it will be for a reason that is originating from the personality but may or may not be to the advantage of those gathering.
Other issues may come up on the agenda but the priority will be the reason for which the personality issued the summons for the meeting. With a time and location defined by the personality, adherence to time and condition of the gathering will be part of the points to help determine the suitability of each attendee at the meeting – Matt. 22:1-14.
2. The personality has the power and authority to gather people like that. The Almighty God specifically called for three annual gatherings of the men of Israel in His name (Ex. 34:23-24) promising them victory and expansion if they do that properly just as His instructions to gather thrice annually for three feasts (Ex. 23:14-19; Deut. 16:16) also produced testimonies – 1Sam. 1:9-28. He however promised not to grant a request presented in a gathering that was not in His name – Is. 54: 15-17.
3. The personality was informed of the intention of the people to gather and he permitted it. Gatherings done without permission from the lord like several other things done without his consent will not have the honour of his presence or his approval. All acts carried out at such gatherings will most likely have no positive testimonies by attendees.
So could the fact that all those gatherings failing to meet some or all of the conditions above be the reason for those wasted efforts recorded in Christian gatherings. Save yourself from all those frustrations associated with failed prayer sessions by doing your due diligence using his conditions as expressed above. He actually wants you to succeed in the place of prayer. His presence in the midst of your prayer is very important for answered prayers and it cannot be taken for granted that just because you are gathering together in that location, he must show up.
May God grant us the ability to meet with the condition necessary for his presence in all our gatherings in Jesus name. Amen.