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Matthew 18:19-20 (NASB):

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

Are there cases when two believers agree and pray for something and it doesn’t happen? The phrase “it shall be done for them” seems pretty clear, but I don’t know if the original language is this strong. If so, why does this not seem to be true today (there are a number of times I have agreed with another believer to pray for something, but it doesn’t happen).

  • Two crucial conditions exist. 1. If two of 'you'. 2. In my name. If the conditions are not met, the promise does not apply. – Nigel J Jul 25 at 22:34
  • Prayer is always answered. It may not be the answer you want. It is answered according to God's will. – Perry Webb Jul 26 at 11:40
  • @Gremosa - I think you may have slightly misquoted the NASB which says, Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. – Dottard Jul 27 at 0:51
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I don't think that Jesus is here talking about prayer or answers to prayer.

In this section Jesus is making the point about his identification with the church in the context of church discipline. He is saying that the church has authority to enact discipline and it is, if you like 'backed up' by Christ himself as if he was enacting that discipline. He works in and through the church. This is because, as he says in the verse that you quote, "where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.".

So I do not believe here Jesus is making a specific point about answers to prayer; rather he is saying that the church has his authority to enact discipline within the family of God.

He does say similar things elsewhere in the context of prayer (e.g. John 14:14) - but I think that would probably be a different question!

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Matt 18:19, 20 cannot and should not be divorced from the previous verses because V18 begins with the word, Πάλιν (Palin) = "Again". So let me quote the context:

V18 is essential to understand the the explicit connection with V19. V 18 says (NASB):

Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Allow me to quote from J B Phillips (The New Testament in Modern English, Collins) on this important Greek construction:

Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, "forbidding" and "permitting". There is a very curious Greek construction here, viz, a simple future followed by the perfect participle passive. If Jesus had meant to say quite simply, Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in Heaven", can anyone explain why the simple future passive is not used? It seems to me that if the words of Jesus are accurately reported here, and I have no reason to doubt it, then the force of these sayings is that Jesus’ true disciples will be so led by the Spirit that they will be following the heavenly pattern. In other words what they “forbid” or “permit” on earth will be consonant with the Divine rules.

Thus, and this is the nub of the issue, Christ's followers will act in accordance with the will of heaven (not the other way around). This is what it means to "gather in my [Christ's] name" (Matt 18:20) - to act in accordance with Christ's/heaven's will. we know this is the intent of Jesus comment because He further says, that "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them." (Matt 18:20) Again, people are acting, and requesting things, according to the will of God.

Under such circumstances, where people act according to the will of God, and Christ is in their midst, of course God will respond positively by granting the request - God always acts in accordance with His own will.

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John 8:17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true.

Jesus was affirming a law in the OT and added a new condition to it they had to be in His name.

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