Why should men pray together? Especially, why should men group together to pray (at certain set times) only with men? Shouldn’t our prayer meetings reflect our heterogeneous, mixed-gender society and Christian community?
Certainly the Jews and ancient Armenians separate men and women for times of prayer, but should we, Bible-believing Christians have meetings with only one gender represented?
The Bible instructs men to lift up holy hands in prayer – should not this be read as generic ‘people,’ ie ‘men and women’?
The benefit of praying together at certain times as men lies partially in the fact that men are put together differently to women – seeing the world through ‘masculine’ lenses – perhaps less intuitive than women, focusing instead on the structure of a problem, its relationship to other issues, and moving swiftly to proposed solutions. On the spiritual level men are more naturally warriors and can delight in spiritual warfare rather than simply enduring it.
In mixed-group settings, men can be spiritually dormant, especially on the key issue of hearing from the Lord. Women frequently find receiving revelation – words, pictures, insights – far easier than men do. Because of this, in a mixed-gender group, prophetic women can set the scene and the tone, with the men following their lead, perhaps reluctantly at times.
In a male-only prayer group, the men must do the hard spiritual work of hearing from the Lord, asking Him questions and then exercising faith to hear Him speak. This develops the gifts of the men so that they are able to hear the Lord in other contexts, including times when the whole congregation comes together.
In addition, uniquely male ways of praying can be quite irritating or upsetting to women, with the result that in mixed prayer groups men rein themselves in, aware that their sisters may disapprove of their masculine ways. This danger is especially prevalent in the liberal West, where unaffirmed men and women brought up on a diet of contemporary feminism live in a deeply unbiblical imbalance, in which women are tacitly expected to lead the corporate encounter with the Lord.
Of course, a man should leave an all-male prayer meeting not only strengthened in his gifts but in greater love and humility towards his wife, sister and daughters than when he entered. A male school of prayer prepares men to re-enter other parts of life more equipped to fulfill their calling of loving, servant-hearted leadership.