If Two of You Shall
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
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
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.