Prayer Study

We live in tough times… people around the world are being massacred by violence… Kosovo, Colorado, the martyrs in Egypt and China… 

These particular events have made me think about the way we deal with this world on a day to day basis. I’m an Internet addict. I hang out in a Christian chat hall on America Online. Not everyone who comes to the room is Christian, but we get some good topics of conversation going. 

One thing I find is that when we are most stressed about worldly events, we get nasty. I mean really nasty. We focus on the problem. We focus on the failures instead of focusing on the possibilities. 

After the Colorado tragedy at Columbine High School, the main topic of conversation was gun control. Right now, our opinion on gun control is not the issue… there is a much deeper problem going on in our country and in the world. We are losing touch with our heavenly Father, because we are focusing our hearts and minds in the wrong places. Think about your conversations that week… How did you talk about the tragedy in Colorado, with your friends, neighbors, and children? Did you focus on the problem and the solution? Did you at any point try to see God’s hand in the situation? Did you keep bringing the solution back to earth; gun control laws, parenting classes. Or did you try handing it back to God to let Him deal with it? 

I can’t imagine how the tragedy in Colorado must have impacted the lives of those who live there, especially those who are directly connected with the school and the people who died. But I have to say that I would like to have been there… That week the churches opened their doors and thousands of people were praying. They were calling out to God… some in anger, some in grief… all hurting. Imagine the healing power of the Holy Spirit in that town that night. 

Why do we wait until tragedy to call out to God? Jesus, our beloved Savior, but also our example of how to live a godly life spent hours in prayer. From Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples.” Jesus was not praying just for something specific, but he was, by his example, teaching his disciples to pray regularly. Jesus gave the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, perfect in its simplicity because it covers each aspect of prayer. I’m going to try to go through each line of the Lord’s Prayer and discuss the importance of these aspects to our prayer life. 

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.…

A father is a person who creates, protects, disciplines, loves, and provides. “Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:9-11). 

God is so awesome that even His name is holy. The Israelites even had rules against speaking the name of God. Yet, through Jesus Christ, we can even call on God as our Father, better yet, as “Abba” or “Daddy”… We can have a personal, intimate relationship with Him. 

Isaiah 49:14,15; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8; Isaiah 66:13; Hebrews 12:7-11 Names of God: Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14; Deuteronomy 5:6; 1 Timothy 6:15; John 1:1; Luke 3:22; John 13:14; Matthew 1:21; Isaiah 47:4; Mark 8:29; Jeremiah 8:18; John 1:41; John 16:13; Romans 8:15; Revelation 1:8.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth…

When you pray, what is your motive? Do you pray to make things better for yourself in this world? Or do you pray for God’s Will? Our relationship with God is an intimate one. We are connected to Him, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. When that connection is strong, our prayers will be things that in are in God’s Will, not our own. If that connection is strong, God will say, “Yes”. If that connection is weak, your prayers will not be what is within God’s Will and the answer may be “No”. Look at the example of a peach tree. If the branch of a peach tree asks the trunk to bear apples, the trunk will say, “No”, it is not within the will of the trunk to help the branch bear apples. So it is with God -- He is the trunk, we are the branches. If we ask God to produce apples when He wants us to produce peaches, He will say “No”. 

What are your motives when you pray? Think about the different crossroads of your life. How did you deal with them, emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. The booklet offers a timeline for you to use to map out your life. Consider your prayer life at each major moment. How did God fit in the picture when you made those decisions. 

Give us this day our daily bread…

We’ll take this one word at a time…

Give: We cannot provide anything for ourselves. We are dependent on God to give us what we need.
Us: This not only refers to each individual who prays, or those in a group praying corporately. We should mean ALL people when we pray “us”.
This Day: Not yesterday (why worry about what happened already), not tomorrow (why worry about what is yet to happen), but only our immediate needs. 
Our: Again, refers to all people. It’s personal. Family. All generations.
Daily: Immediate, every day, constant, renewed.
Bread: Spiritual and physical necessities (not ‘nice’ essities)

What are the different types of prayer?

Petition is a solemn request to a superior authority
Supplication is humble, earnest entreaty
Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude
Communication is the exchange of thoughts, messages or information
Adoration is the worshipful demonstration of love
Confession is the admission of guilt
Submission is the act of yielding to the authority of another
Praise is the statement or attitude of approval or admiration

Forgive us our debts (trespasses, sins)

A study of forgiveness must first approach confession. How can God forgive us if we are unwilling to ask for it? We don’t admit sins because we fear punishment, are afraid of hurting others or our ego, or we are ignorant of our sin. What are the ‘requirements for forgiveness? Be humble, pray, seek God, call to God, repent, sacrifice (shed of blood), believe, and confess. God provides promise and blessings. There are three aspects to confession. First, you must agree with God’s judgment that specific attitudes and actions are sins (grievous offenses against God’s love and holiness). Second, we must ask God for forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s death in which He paid the penalty for our sin. Third, REPENT!! This is declaring your desire to turn away from wanting to sin, to wanting to obey God. It is the act of repentance that validates our confession. 

Requirements for forgiveness -- 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 86:5; Jeremiah 50:19-20; Matthew 26:27,28; Acts 10:43; Hebrews 8:12; 1 John 1:9; Romans 4:7,8. Three aspects to confession -- Psalm 51:3,4; Ephesians 1:7,8; 2 Corinthians 7:10.

As we have also forgiven our debtors…

This is not an admission that we have forgiven our debtors, it is a call for us to do so. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) 

Is there anyone you need to forgive? Think about the parable of the unmerciful servant from Matthew 18:23-35… “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would make a reckoning with his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, that owed him ten thousand talents.  But forasmuch as he had not wherewith to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  And the lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him a hundred shillings: and he laid hold on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest.  So his fellow-servant fell down and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee.  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay that which was due.  So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were exceeding sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.  Then his lord called him unto him, and saith to him, Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me: shouldest not thou also have had mercy on thy fellow-servant, even as I had mercy on thee?  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due.  So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.”

Confession and forgiveness refers not only to our generation, but also to our forefathers. We also need to remember the sacrifice. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice involved animals. We do not need to lay our sins on the head of a goat and send it into the wilderness, because Jesus Christ was our sacrifice. If you have a sin, confess it to the one that you sinned against, or at least confess it to God. Holding on to it will only hurt you. 

Why does God forgive, rather than punish? When we are forgiven, we go in peace. God’s peace = Glory to God. (Luke 7:40-50) I will begin reading at verse 44b, “ Seest thou this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath wetted my feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair.  Thou gavest me no kiss: but she, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet.  My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but she hath anointed my feet with ointment.  Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.  And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.  And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that even forgiveth sins?  And he said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” 

For those who are saved, forgiveness happens daily, for those who are not, forgiveness happens for a lifetime. The parable of the lost son is the perfect example of this. 

Matthew 6:14,15; Luke 6:37; Colossians 3:13; Matthew 18:21-35; Luke 15:1-7; Luke 18:9-14; Luke 7:40-50; Luke 15:11-32

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…

When it comes to temptation, we need to admit the things we are tempted by. God will reveal. When we are aware of our temptations, what we are tempted by and when, then we can deal with them. There are several sentences in the booklet that might help you discover your greatest temptations. 

How should we deal with temptation? First, God’s Will be done. Second, fix your thoughts on Jesus… FOCUS! Third, since Jesus was tempted by sin, He is our example. With His help, we can overcome. Trust in Him to help us. Failing when tempted is something human. Satan tempts us, but we are also tempted by our own human failings. God does not tempt us. God does not allow more than we can bear. 

I Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18-3:1; Hebrews 4:15,16; James 1:13-15

For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever, Amen.

This part is about PRAISE!!! In 2 Chronicles 20:1-22, we hear the story of Jehoshaphat. I’ll read beginning at verse 15, “Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat: Thus saith Jehovah unto you, Fear not ye, neither be dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.  To-morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the ascent of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel.  Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of Jehovah with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed: to-morrow go out against them: for Jehovah is with you.  And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before Jehovah, worshipping Jehovah.  And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites, stood up to praise Jehovah, the God of Israel, with an exceeding loud voice.
     And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem: believe in Jehovah your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.  And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed them that should sing unto Jehovah, and give praise in holy array, as they went out before the army, and say, Give thanks unto Jehovah; for his lovingkindness endureth for ever.  And when they began to sing and to praise, Jehovah set liers-in-wait against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, that were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” 

Jehoshaphat sent in the choir, and God won the war. 

,2 Chronicles 20:1-22

This brings us back to what I was saying earlier… We need to stop focusing on the problem and our own solutions, and send in the choir. If we spend more time daily focusing on God, and His power, He’ll fight the battle for us. 

It is difficult for us to ask for things, from our friends, family and even God. We are too proud; embarrassed… you fill in the word that fits your situation. But God wants us to ask. Why? God already knows what we need, why bother to ask? From Matthew 6:8b “for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” First, God/Jesus told you to. He promised to answer. Second, asking God means being connected to God and Him to us. Finally, asking God means to glorify Him. It makes God feel good when you ask Him! 

Matthew 7:7,8; John 15:4,5; John 15:7,8

When you pray:
Talk to God, not for others
Make it private/secret/personal
Be concise, preparation will help, keep a list
Remember forgiveness
Give Glory to the Father 

Matthew 6:5-8; Matthew 7:7-11; Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:25; John 14:13,14

How to pray:
Choose a specific time and place - make an appointment, morning is the best, begin the day on the right foot!
Be accountable - write it down or share with someone who will help you keep your appointment
Get up and go - do not just lie in bed and pray, go to your specific place).
Prepare - make a list of your personal needs, the needs of your family and all other needs.
Spend some time in prayer - don’t do a McDonald’s prayer, do an eight course meal prayer. After all, prayer is the bread for your soul. Which meal is better for you?
FOCUS - On Jesus Be in the Word along with prayers, then pray about what you’ve read. Read the Bible out loud. The Bible is meant to be heard.

Open prayers with praise
Honor God, thank Him.
Confess and profess.
Get guidance from God. 

What’s next?

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 

God will answer! Although, His answer might not always be what we want. 

Psalm 37:4 and Proverbs 10:24 shows us that God will say “YES” 

Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” YES AND MORE 

Psalm 27:14 and 2 Peter 3:8 “Wait for the Lord” WAIT 

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul reminds us that sometimes God says no… “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness.” NO 

Jonah 4:1-4, When we try to tell God how to do His job, He tells us He knows the best way to deal with things… This answer is “NO, BUT I WILL DO SOMETHING BETTER.” 

Listen carefully… God is not always loud like thunder, sometimes He is in a gentle whisper, as in 1 Kings 19:11-13. 

Hebrews 10:23; Psalm 37:4; Proverbs 10:24; Ephesians 3:20; Psalm 27:14; 2 Peter 3:8; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Jonah 4:1-4; 1 Kings 19:11-13

Jesus Christ was more than just an example of how to have a good prayer life. Jesus’ life was His prayer. He was so closely connected with God, that everything He did was for God’s Glory. That is what we should strive to do. We may not be perfect, but the closer we get to God, the more we listen to Him, and the more we do His Will, the more our life will become our prayer to Him. 

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7 

Matthew 14:22-23a; Mark 1:35; Luke 3:21-22; Luke 6:12-16; Luke 11:1; John 14:11-14; John 15:7

More Scripture! John 16:23-27; Phillipians 4:6; Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 37:4; Ephesians 6:18-20; Proverbs 30:7-9; 1 Timothy 2:1-4 

Now, how do we apply this knowledge? We should all be trying to take time each day to pray. We should be gathering together to pray, calling out to God before tragedy hits us again. We are not only connected to God through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we are bound together as one Church, believers together, by that same power. 

A few things to remember… Don’t let it become a ‘task’. If you establish a routine and wake up sighing to yourself “Oh, I’ve have to get up and pray.” You should just stay in bed. Your prayer time will be unfruitful. When you allow the Holy Spirit to guide your waking and praying, a regular prayer time will never become a burden. 

Fasting is powerful… I can honestly say I never realized that until very recently. During Holy Week, the Lord directed me into a fast. It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part. I realized I was fasting about two days into it. It was a partial fast, eating just enough to sustain my body, which after 5 days wouldn’t have filled a dinner plate. I drank plenty of water. With the fasting, I prayed unceasingly, and wrote Holy Week devotionals for my online friends… God was with me the whole time, and I would never have done it without Him. So, before you ‘decide’ to fast, be sure that you’ve been called to fast, and be prepared spiritually and physically to do it. If you are pregnant, or have some other physical impairment, be sure you have a doctor’s recommendation for a special diet to have while fasting. There are different types of fasting. You could do a complete fast, nothing for a specified period of time. Or, you can limit the amount of food. Or you could limit the type of food. Or you could limit some other aspect of your life. When you fast, consider the other areas of your life. Do you watch too much TV? Instead of watching TV, devote that time to prayer and Bible Study. Be very careful about getting a group together to ‘fast’ for something… The group should spend time together before the fast, several weeks even, praying about it. If any member of the group is not called to fast, they should not be coerced into it. 

Your spiritual life is very important to God. He wants you to be close to Him. He will give you the strength, courage, wisdom and love you need to do His work. All you have to do is ask. Your prayer life and my prayer life will never look the same. But that is because we each have our own individual relationship with God. What works for me will not necessarily work for you. But as you find your own program, remember to include all the aspects of prayer…Petition Him, Supplicate yourself, Give Thanksgiving to Him for His many blessings, Communicate with Him, Adore Him, Confess your sins before Him, Submit to Him, AND PRAISE HIM. 

Open your prayers with Praise
Honor God and thank Him
Confess and profess
Get His guidance
Then GO and SERVE the Lord.

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