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Sunday School: 9:30- 10:15am

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Wednesday Youth Service: 6:30-8:00pm

Devotionals

Prayer

( from The Battle Plan for Prayer published by Lifeway press)

Daily Devotional

Prayer 101

How do you react when you hear the word prayer? Are you comforted and at peace or do you feel guilty and nervous?  Take a minute and think about why you feel this way.

Prayer is an amazing privilege. God doesn’t have to communicate with us and doesn’t need us to communicate with Him. He chooses to! That’s the love of God, He chooses to involve us in His work. He chooses to have a relationship with us.  He chooses to show up in our lives over and over again.

 

 When you stop and think about it, what amazes you about prayer?

The heart of prayer is simply talking with God.  The aim of this lesson series is to take this a step further and create a strategy for prayer.  We’re going to learn how to strategically pray. Pray for your family, your classmates, your friends, your enemies, and this whole fallen world.  Praying strategically means praying with a purpose, praying with an end goal in mind. First though, we have to start with the basics and lay a strong foundation, before we build up to a large prayer strategy.

How would you define prayer? ( Look up some definitions if you would like to )

Some of the words that came up in your definitions might have included : petition, request, thanksgiving, praise. Looking at these words, we see the different ways that we pray.  Think about that for a minute, our definition changes depending on our needs at any given time.

If God made a list of the top five prayers he hears, what do you think would be on the list?

Most likely, your list has some personal issues, or everyday problems.  These prayers are important, but God’s Word instructs us to be devoted to prayer. This means we must go deeper than the everyday problems and issues.  As we get into this I know you may be worried about adding one more thing to already overloaded schedule.

What is your biggest struggle with prayer?  Finding Time?  Knowing what to pray?

Prayer is not just one more thing to add to your list. Prayer gives you power to finish the list.  We’re not adding anything to the list, we’re relying on God’s power instead of our own power.  We’re devoting ourselves to prayer.

One of the most awesome things about prayer and something that always amazes me is that God wants to hear from us.  He loves us, and wants to be close to us. This changes everything! God is actively seeking you out and wants you to actively seek him too!

Read Ephesians 3 : 14-19

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17t hat Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

How would your prayer life change if you prayed knowing that you are “rooted and grounded in love”?

Prayer is not something to fear or nervous about.  Remind yourself that you are rooted, grounded in God’s love, and your prayers will hopefully be easier and bolder.  I pray that God will deepen your grasp of His love as we learn to boldly approach Him in a renewed devotion to prayer.

 

Instructions on Prayer

1st Timothy 2 : 1-4

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

What other words are listed in verse 1 that mean prayer?

Who does Paul specifically say we should pray for?

Why does prayer please God?

Our God is good, and He wants all of His people to come to salvation.  A little later in our study, we’ll talk more about praying specifically for lost people. Right now let’s think a little bigger.

We’re studying with a hope of being better equipped for prayer.  Maybe you want to pray more often, or even start to pray, or perhaps to pray with more intensity and focus.  I pray that God will move you to a whole new level of prayer through this study.  Start by following the instructions for prayer in 1st Timothy that tell us to pray for everyone.  Take time right now to list specific people you want to me more strategic in praying for.

Write down or type out your list, with a specific request you have for each person.

Now, go back through your list and pray specifically for each person.

Hang on to your list, either in your phone or in your wallet or purse, so that you can come back to it over the next few weeks.  This will help you to remember to continue to pray for these people and to also see how God will work and move through your prayers

Devoted to Prayer

Paul commanded believers to be devoted to prayer. (Romans 12:2, Colossians 4:2) While that sounds like a noble concept, what does that really mean?   What does that type of devotion look like?

The Greek word for devotion Paul used in these verses is proskartereo.  This word is used ten times in the New Testament, five of these refer to prayer.  To help us understand this type of prayer devotion, let’s look at how the verb is used each time

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In the verses below, the translation of proskartereo is in bold.  Note how it is used.  Think about what each verse teaches us about being devoted to prayer

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  • Acts 1:14 – All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers

  • Acts 2:42 – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers

  • Acts 6:4 – But we will devote ourselves to prater and to the preaching ministry

  • Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.

  • Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.

 

What are these verses saying about prayer?

What difficulties or triumphs in your life have caused you to become more devoted to prayer?

What would have to change in your life for you to be more devoted to prayer?

If it meant positively transforming your life and empowering your spiritual impact on others, would you be willing to make those changes?

In addition to the verses that used proskartereo (devoted) concerning prayer, there are five other usages of the word in the New Testament. Studying these verses can actually help us get a better handle on how to become devoted to prayer.

In the verses below, the translation of proskartereo is in bold.  Note how it is used.  Think about how each verse helps us better understand being devoted to prayer.

  • Mark 3:9 – Then He told His disciples to have a small boat ready for Him, so the crowd would not crush Him.

  • Acts 8:13 – Then even Simon himself believed.  And after he was baptized, he went around constantly with Phillip and was astounded as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed.

  • Acts 10:7 – When the angel who had spoke to him had gone, he called two of his household slaves and a devout soldier, who was one of those who attended him.

  • Romans 13:6 – And for this reason you pay taxes since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks.

How does the use of proskartereo in these verses help you understand what it means to be devoted to prayer?

Devotion involves committing to something consistently and frequently.  To be consistently devoted to prayer, we have to train ourselves in this practice.  It does not come naturally.  We must train ourselves to be in constant communion with God.

PRAY now and ask God for help to repurpose your life as one who is devoted to prayer.

The Example of Jesus

When most people think of Jesus’ prayer life, they default to the teaching we commonly refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.  While we will dive deep into this pivotal prayer later in our study, Jesus’ prayer ministry was not isolated to this famous teaching. In fact, His entire ministry was saturated in prayer.

Read the following passages that describe the prayer life of Jesus.  Think about what we learn about Jesus’ prayer life as you read them

  • [Early stages of ministry] – Mark 1:35 - And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

  • [Before making the selection of the twelve disciples] – Luke 6:12 - And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

  • [After feeding the 5000] – Matthew 14:23 - And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

  • [Before His crucifixion] – Luke 22:39-41 - 39A nd he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed.

 

How would you describe Jesus’ prayer life?

At what times of the day did Jesus pray?

In what kinds of situations did Jesus set aside time to pray?

Not only did Jesus teach on the importance of prayer, He modeled this devotion to prayer Himself.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus needed to pray?  If Jesus was God, why did He need to take time to pray?

Although Jesus was fully God while He was on earth, Scripture also teaches that as He grew He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52).  Prayer was His means of knowing and carrying our God’s will. Prayer was a vital parts of the relationship between God the Father and Christ His Son.

Think of the most important relationship in your life.  How strong would that relationship be if the communication between stopped today?

Based on Jesus’ prayer life, what is the primary function that prayer should serve?

If Jesus, the Son of God, was constantly dependent upon the Father through prayer, how could we possibly not think it is necessary for us?

Pray and ask God to show you some changes you need to make to become more consistent and dependent upon Him in prayer. (This study is a huge step in the right direction. God will be faithful as you work to become devoted to prayer)

Prayer Strategy Target

It is our hope and prayer that you dive deep into the topic of prayer through this Bible study.  God will be faithful as you focus on prayer. We hope that you leave this study with a firm grasp on how to pray for yourself and those around you – your friends, family members, the lost, those in authority over you, and more – in a strategic way.

To do that we have developed a sort or road map – in the form of a Prayer Strategy Target.

 

 

We will work through this target together over the coming weeks by focusing our last devotional before the new sessions on it.  By the end of our study you know how to utilize this target and pray specifically and strategically for others.

We want to start today with the vertical and horizontal lines on the target.  They represent the cross.  Prayer begins with Jesus Christ.

Why is the cross so important?

Jesus’ finished work on the cross has provided us access to the Father.

John 14:6 says : Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Our relationship to God through Jesus is the key to healthy and effective prayers.  We need to be vertically aligned with God through the cross before we can do anything else.

As Scripture says, “5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7

IF you are not a Christian, you will not see consistent success in your prayer life.

If you aren’t certain of your relationship to God through Jesus, talk to your youth pastor, your pastor, or another godly adult about this decision. It is the most important decision you will ever make, they will be honored to help you.

If you’ve repented and trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, this is the foundation for a strong prayer life.  If you are clear in your heart that you have salvation, take time now to thank God for this incredible gift. Also, ask God to show you what areas of your life you’re still trying to control instead of allowing Jesus to be Lord.  Listen to what he says, ask for forgiveness and then pray about your prayer life. Decide what kind of prayer warrior you desire to be and pray asking God to make that a reality in you.

May God do a great and lasting work in your heart and draw you deeper and closer into a loving relationship with Him like never before!

Scheduled Prayer

Part 1

In a study like this one, it’s easy to get excited about prayer without actually accomplishing it.  Instead of merely getting energized about a battle plan for prayer, you need to ensure that you set yourself up to follow through.

As we continue this journey, take some practical steps to ensure you will be persistent in prayer.  As we talked about in our group session, some prayer times are scheduled and some are spontaneous.  We will look at scheduled prayer today and tomorrow and spontaneous prayer later this week.

Read Jesus’ description of how He said we should pray in Matthew 6 : 5 – 8. 

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

 

What are three things you discovered about prayer from this passage?

What is Jesus condemning in these verses?

Jesus is not condemning the act of public prayer itself, but rather the wrong motive.

Who is the intended audience for our prayer?

Prayer is ultimately not about you, but about God.  It is not about your glory or will, but about His glory and His will.  Jesus encourages true believers to take prayer into a private place because our prayers are not for impressing others, but for knowing and pleasing God alone.

In our group session, we talked about setting up a time and a place to pray today.  Did you hold to that commitment? Why or why not?

Do you have a private room designated for prayer on a regular basis – a prayer closet or a special spot?  Do you have a specific time you meet with God?  Why or why not?

You may not have the physical space in your home to claim a separate room as a private prayer sanctuary, but you can make some adjustments to set yourself up for success when it comes to prayer.  Designate a spot in your room, or speak with your parents about setting aside a place that is just for prayer.

How can you reclaim a space and a time in your home to pray regularly?

Hold yourself accountable. Write down a place and time that you will set aside for prayer until we meet again on Wednesday.

Scheduled Prayer

Part 2

Let’s look at some examples  from the Bible of people setting aside specific times and places just for the purpose of prayer.

David chose specific time to pray.  Read Psalm 55 : 16 – 17 :

16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.  17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

 

When did David pray according to this passage?

David’s example is inspiring.  It’s an honor that we can look back thousands of years and read so many of his specific prayers in the Psalms.  Not all of David’s prayers were joyful prayers.  In the verses shown, he is crying out in distress to God, notice he does it in a strategic, scheduled way.

Later in the Psalms, David talks again about scheduled prayer.  Read Psalm 119 : 164 :

164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.

How many times did David say he prays? 

Remember David was a man after God’s own heart…

Daniel was another who scheduled time to pray on a consistent basis. 

Read Daniel 6 : 10 – 11

10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.  11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

 

What you can’t tell just by reading these verses is that Daniel was in a time of extreme trouble during this season of his life.  He knew that he would be potentially arrested and killed for his faith.  Even then, Daniel prayed and trusted.  God answered his prayers and rescued him from the mouths of lions.

 

How many times on average would you estimate that you pray each day?

How many of those times are scheduled and how many are spontaneous?

You may not be able to have seven times of schedule prayer a day, or even three.  I challenge you to at least start with one.  If you decide to add more, then great, but please start with one scheduled time and do your best to keep it up at least through this study.  I am confident that as you devote scheduled time to prayer, you are going to see it impact your life.

Find a sticky note and jot down a time you plan to pray this week. Or maybe set an alarm on your phone, just do your best to remember and stick to this time of scheduled prayer.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll talk about spontaneous prayers.  Spontaneous and scheduled prayer are both important in every believer’s life.

Spontaneous Prayer

Part 1

It is extremely helpful to have a scheduled tome and a sacred space in which you pray.  Scripture also teaches us to pray continually.  Unexpected obstacles and situations will arise throughout your week.  During those moments you will find yourself needing to pray.  Br prepared for those spontaneous times.

Read 1st Thessalonians 5 : 17 :

17 Pray without ceasing.

 

Depending what translation, you read, the word used in this verse might be constantly, regularly, continually, or without ceasing.  On a corporate level, churches can “pray without ceasing” by taking turns and praying in shifts throughout the day.  On an individual level, we can make prayer a natural and regular part of our day.

Do you believe that this instruction is actually possible? Why or why not?

What would it look like for this verse to be practically applied in your life this week?

As you think through your schedule over the next 24 hours, there are probably some times where you are going to need to go to God in prayer and your prayer closet will not be accessible.

 

In the next 24 hours, when would be pivotal times during the day you could pause and pray?

Identifying pivotal times to pray is important and one of the first steps in becoming more devoted to prayer.  But we can’t always predict when we will need to take time to pray.  To truly put 1st Thessalonians 5 :17 into practice, we must remain in close fellowship with God and be aware of his presence in our lives.  The ultimate goal is for prayer to be a regular and frequent habit throughout your day.

Come up with an action plan.  Your plan may include hanging notes in strategic places, setting reminders on your phone, or asking your parents to hold you accountable. Whatever your plan, right it down, in your phone or on actual paper. Also write at least three real reminders you can use to increase your prayer frequency over the next 24 hours. Once you have the plan in place, commit it to God in prayer.

We will finish this devotion discussing different times for spontaneous prayers. The more you get in the habit of bringing conversation with God into a daily rhythm in your life, the more you can sense and feel God’s presence and guidance day in and day out.

BOLDNESS

If you are a follower of Christ, there will be multiple opportunities for you to share your faith or stand for the truth.  All of those moments call for spontaneous prayer.

What moments in the recent past have you had the opportunity to share the gospel with someone or take a stand for the truth?  Did you have the courage and boldness to follow through?

NEEDS

Each day we will have different needs arise in our lives.  God knows what these needs are and longs to meet them.

What are the needs in your life? Identify two needs and spend a moment praying about them.

Spontaneous Prayer

Part 2

Today we will finish talking about specific reminders for spontaneous prayers.  Remember, when conversation with God becomes a part of your daily rhythm, you will be able to sense His presence and guidance even more.  Let’s finish looking at occasions that should prompt us toward spontaneous prayer.

CONFUSION

Isaiah 55 : 9 - For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  We often can’t see the big picture, so it is understandable to have time of confusion.

 

What is something that is confusing in your life right now? Ask God to help you see more clearly, pray right now to help you overcome your confusion.

CRISIS

It is likely that you or someone you know is in a crisis situation.  Just look at your social media and I’m sure you’ll find one.  When you do, stop and pray for them right away.

 

Does God bring any situation to mind in this category? Pray for whoever comes to mind, yourself or someone else

SIN

Nothing blocks your prayer life like unconfessed sin.  If you have sin in your life, you need to repent in order to reestablish healthy communion with the Father. Don’t cover it up, dismiss it, and try to forget about it.  Repent and confess.

God will forgive you if you ask him to : Matthew 7 : 7a - Ask, and it shall be given you

STRESS

Everyone faces stress. Even right now something is tugging on your mind, maybe something that you have to do, or a challenging relationship.  Make it a habit to bring those stresses to our Father.

Think of three things that you are stressing about right now.  Pray and ask God to help with those things

BLESSINGS

Spontaneous prayer shouldn’t just happen when times are difficult.  We should break out in prayer when God blesses us.  He is good and longs to give gifts to His children.

Matthew 7: 11 - If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Pray now and thank God for the blessings He has given you.

BURDENS

God wants us to bring Him our burdens -  Matthew 11 : 28 - Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

What are some of the burdens you are carrying? Pray now giving those over to God.

 

REQUESTS

God wants us to bring our requests to Him, but He also wants us to bring them with the right motives.  James 4 :3 : Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. - Check your motives when you bring you requests to Him

We all have requests we present to God.  Make sure your motivation is pure when you bring those requests before Him.

REJOICING

Phillipians 4 : 4 - Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. – We have so much to rejoice over, even in the difficult times.

What are some reasons you have to rejoice right now? Speak those out to God in praise and thanksgiving.

Prayer Strategy Target

As promised in each Day 5 we are going to spend time working through our Prayer Strategy Target.

Here is a reminder of what it looks like :

 

Last week we evaluated our vertical relationship with God and were reminded of how prayer is made possible through Jesus’ death on the cross.

This week we want to look at the horizontal line across the middle of the target.  It represents being aligned well with others in order for prayer to be the most effective. God wants us to walk in love and unity with those around us.  Bitterness toward others can hinder our prayer lives.  Also, if we have wronged someone and not made it right, God wants us to stop delaying and set things right.

We will focus on this topic in more depth throughout the study, but let’s pause and evaluate where we are on that horizontal line just for a moment.

An interesting passage in Genesis 11 describes the construction of the tower of Babel.  In this biblical account, ungodly people decided to build a city with an enormous tower for their own glory and prestige.  They planned it out and began the challenge, and at first found success in their efforts.  God looked down from heaven and basically said, : Because of their unity, nothing will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6) So He intervened. He divided them by changing their communication in to numerous languages.  This prevented them from finishing their prideful monument.  In the confusion and chaos, they abandoned the project and separated themselves by language, spreading out across the land.

What is so striking about this passage of Scripture is that God Himself noted that when people are unified, they are able to exert tremendous power and momentum.  Even ungodly people! So imagine how powerful unity can be for people who worship and obey the God of the universe.  If we seek the Lord and act in unity, nothing can stop us.

That’s why the enemy does everything possible to keep Gods’ people divided.  Once we come together unity, we gain momentum and take ground for the kingdom.  United prayer is powerful.  Prayer from a divided people, not so much.  This is why removing bitterness toward others and choosing to forgive is so crucial. Any pride or selfishness should be seen as an enemy to united prayer.

In John 17 : 21, Jesus prayed a beautiful prayer, asking God to unify believers in one body, that the world would know that He was sent by God to bring salvation to the world.  Psalm 133 : 1 echoes the same theme : Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Read John 13 : 34 – 35

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

 

Jesus’ words here are clear and the model Jesus gave us through His life and ministry makes it even more clear.  We are to love our neighbor and our neighbor is everyone.

So before we can tackle this concept of prayer in a serious way, we need to not only evaluate our relationship with God.  We need to evaluate our relationship with others.

 

Take a moment and consider any strained or broken relationships that you have in your life,  Talk to God about these relationships and ask Him what you need to do in order to make them right again.

Relationships are complicated, but the Bible says :

 Romans 12 : 18 - If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

If possible, in as much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone

Your Name Be Holy

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6 : 9 - 10

 

For this week’s devotions, we are going to unpack the Lord’s Prayer by focusing on the individual petitions that Jesus taught us to make.  The first petition is a desire for the name of God to be honored as holy.  His name should be set apart as greater and more special than all other names.  His name – like His attributes – is like none other.  Calling upon the name of the Lord is like dialing His specific phone number, it initiates direct communication with God Almighty.

 

Read Exodus 20 : 7 – Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

What are some ways people misuse the name of the Lord?

Why is this significant enough for God to address in one of the Ten Commandments?

Read Phillipians 2 : 10 – 11 – 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Scripture teaches that not everyone will follow Jesus and go to Heaven (Matthew 25 : 31 – 46 ), so what do you think it means that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord?

Read Psalm 135 : 13 - Thy name, O Lord, endureth forever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations.

How is God’s reputation related to His name?

We must remember that prayer is not based upon our name, but God’s name. God’s name alone is Holy, reigning, and supreme. It is perfect and more powerful than any other name.  More honored, Higher than every other name.  It invites God’s presence.  It rebukes evil.  It saves us.  It is to be worshipped.  That’s why we must never take any of God’s names in vain, or use them flippantly.  Rather, we praise and worship His name while honoring His attributes, power and authority.

The next petition in the model prayer asks for God’s Kingdom and will to advance on the earth.  Again, prayer is not about our plans and kingdom, but His.  When we pray, we are not seeking to bend God to our ever-changing, imperfect desires.  We are yielding our lives to His perfect and eternal will.  May His Kingdom come and His will be done.

What is God’s will?  Read these verses :

1st Timothy 2 : 3 - 4 – 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

 

Micah 6 : 8 - He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

1st Thessalonians 5 : 18 – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1st Thessalonians 4 : 3 – For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication

As we pray, God amazingly reveals His will and ways to us, and then starts to align our hearts and minds with His.  We yield to His perfect and powerful lordship.  Christ is the “head of the body, the church”, worthy of being ascribed “first place in everything” ( Colossians 1 : 18 )  As Jesus prayed, “not my will, but Yours be done...”  we too should pray, “Your kingdom come and Your will be done... in me and my life.”  We follow where He lovingly leads.

 

In your time of prayer today, focus on the name of God.  Pray that his name would be trusted and always honored in your life.  Also, submit to God by faith and ask that His Kingdom to come and His will to be done in your life right now and in today’s circumstances that you are going through.  Then, expect great things to happen as a result.

OUR DAILY BREAD

Give us this day our daily bread.

Matthew 6 : 11

This petition is asking God to provide for our needs.  After their Exodus from Egypt, the nation of Israel wandered through the wilderness and complained of their lack of food and water.  God promised to “rain bread from heaven” (Exodus 6 : 14) for the people.  One interesting fact about this bread was its unique nature as a daily provision.

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

Exodus 16: 4

 

Why did God want the people to gather just enough for that day rather than stockpiling the food?

11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.

Exodus 16 : 11 – 12

How did God’s provision correspond with the people’s understanding of Him?

Just like He promised, God provided for the people.  When the people saw the “small round thing” of bread on the ground, They said one to another, "It is manna: for they wist not what it was.” (Exodus 16 : 14-15).  The word manna literally means, what is it.

These former slaves had become dependent upon the provision of their taskmasters.  Now free from their control and their provision, they were without access to basic needs.  In this dependent and helpless state, God provided for them.  It was a test to trust Him daily for what they needed.  There was no planning for the future.  They had to trust God one day at a time.

Think about ways in which you are dependent upon others, such as your parents.

Do you trust the person on whom you are dependent?

Why or why not?

Hopefully, you see the connection between the Exodus narrative and Jesus’ prayer. “Our Father, will you give us our daily bread?” We are not asking about tomorrow’s bread.  We are asking for today’s physical and spiritual needs and nourishment to be provided by God’s provisional hand.  We are focusing on the real needs at hand – one day at a time.

We acknowledge our utter dependence on Him : God, if you don’t feed us, we won’t eat.

What do you genuinely need right now? Have you prayed about it?

What are the genuine needs of your church right now?  Have you prayed about them?

Instead of doing what you can do to fix these situations, ask God to show Himself again as the Lord who provides (Genesis 22 : 14)

 

Pray for God’s provision today.

FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS

 

 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Matthew 6 : 12

 

This petition is unique compared to the others.  This request for pardon comes with a distinct requirement: forgive others.

We understand that we need forgiveness.  None of us is righteous, all have sinned against God (Romans 3 : 23).  We know the wages of sin is death (Romans 6 : 23 ).  Therefore, we are in need of judicial forgiveness from God – a once-for-all pardon that allows us to receive salvation.  Once we have that type of forgiveness, we are justified before God, at peace with God, and have righteousness from God through faith in Christ.  Our salvation is as secure as the eternally powerful hands that hold it (John 10 : 27 – 29).

When Jesus died upon the cross, how many of your sins had not been committed yet?

 

Why, then , do you believe we ask God to forgive our sins regularly if He has already forgiven them once and for all?

We ask regularly for forgiveness because in addition to needing judicial forgiveness we also need relational forgiveness.  For example, when you disobey your parents, that doesn’t change your relationship ( or position ) with them.  You will always be their son or daughter.  Your disobedience doesn’t change your position.  However, it does change the fellowship of your relationship.  If you have received the gospel and God has made you a new creation ( 2nd Corinthians 5 : 17 ), the status of your relationship with God does not change.  You don’t need to get saved and be justified again every time you sin.  You are in need of relational forgiveness and must walk in the light and in honest confession before God if you want to stay in close fellowship with Him ( 1st  John 1 : 5-10 ).  The penitent heart you present before God acknowledges you have sinned and you are sorry about what you have done ( Psalms 51 : 3 – 4 ).  A truly repentant heart will turn from the sin of “unforgiveness” and extend forgiveness to others as well.

With that understanding, answer these questions :

Do I really want to pray that God would show me the kind of grace I have shown others?

What words would you use to describe the way you have forgiven others?

Oftentimes, we may reword our “unforgiveness” like this :

“Well, I can forgive but I refuse to forget”

“I forgive them but I never want to be around them”

“I’ll forgive them only after they suffer a while and get what’s coming to them”

Read 2nd Corinthians 5 : 17 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

What does this tell you about how God forgives?

Jesus’ forgiveness is once and for all. When we are forgiven of our sins, we are a new creation.  God does not dwell on our old selves - our sin – but looks at us through the righteousness of Christ.  Is there anyone you need to forgive? Someone who wronged you but you keep holding anger in your heart against them?

Pray today that you may be able to extend a heart of forgiveness for that person.  Ask God to help you always willingly forgive others in the same manner He willingly forgives you.

DO NOT BRING US INTO TEMPTATION

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6 : 13

 

These final two petitions pray for protection from temptation and the Evil One.  It is a cry for help to keep us away from things that would damage our integrity.

Don’t miss the power of the plural pronouns here.  What Jesus prayed is important but what He didn’t pray is also important.  He didn’t pray: Do not bring ME into temptation, but deliver ME from the evil one.: This kind of individualistic, independent mindset was not part of His prayer.  If one person commits sin, the entire group deals with the consequences.  Regardless of what we think, our decisions affect others greatly.

Stop for a minute and really think about the gravity of your decisions.  If you fall into temptation, how would that impact your family?

 

If you fall into temptation, how would that impact your friends, teammates, and classmates?

If you are not walking closely with God, how would that impact your church?

My sin affects us, your sin affects us.  None of us is an island.  We are the church, the body of Christ.  When the foot suffers, the entire body staggers ( 1st Corinthians 12 : 26 ).

Read Matthew 6 : 13 again.  When Jesus prayed that God would not bring us into temptation, this statement does not mean that God normally employs such methods.  We know that God Is not tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone ( James 1 : 13 ).  God has also promised that every time we are tempted He provides a way of escape (1st Corinthians 10:13).  Jesus is able to come to our aid since He was tempted just like us yet He never sinned.

Instead, our prayer should be more: “God, keep me on Your righteous path.  Sound the alarm when temptation is near.  Keep my eyes open and heart alert.  Remind me that I could fall into the very sin I hate.  Cause me to hate and acknowledge any sin that so easily ensnares me.  Awaken me to the reality of an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour  ( 1st Peter 5 : 8 ).

Right now, let’s get specific.  If the Evil One wanted to take me out, what strategy would he likely use?  What temptation would he employ? In what areas have I been pridefully letting my guard down?

By the way, if you don’t have an answer for this question, you may be in a dangerous blind spot and closer to spiritual ruin than you think.  Take this opportunity to pray more defensively so that you will not be taken advantage of by Satan’s schemes ( 2nd Corinthians 2 : 11 ).  Talk with God and make a battle plan on how you can keep from falling to the temptation you mentioned above.  Be specific.

 

If these temptations come in certain environments which you can avoid, talk with God and make a battle plan.  Get specific.  What temptations do you need help avoiding?  What strategies of the Enemy do you need to realize?  Pray through these areas and ask God for deliverance from our evil adversary.

Prayer Strategy Target

Today we need to discuss one more foundational piece to the prayer target.

 

The circle in the middle will be where you eventually write the name of some people you are praying for, but today we want to talk about that circle itself.  On the chart, you will see that the circle in the middle is a reddish color.  That is because it represents the heart of the person praying.  The condition of your heart affects your prayers.

Read James 5 : 16 : “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” and Psalm 66 : 18 : “ If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

No one is saying you have to be perfect.  What these verses are saying is that the condition of your heart does matter when you pray.

James said the reason for a delay in God’s answer is not always a timing issue.  Sometimes “you ask and you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” ( James 4 : 3 ).  If lust, greed or pride is at the heart of a request, God may decline it in order to guard us from the hurt or idolatry that could result from the toxic request.

The first chapter of Proverbs says, “ They will call on me, but I will not answer, they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord” ( verses 28 - 29 ).  Their attitude ad behavior – the true condition of their hearts – stood between their request for help and its arrival.  If they were ready to listen, however, if they would get their hearts right, their plight would be much better.

What is the condition of your heart right now?  Are you hiding sin or harboring bitterness?  How is the Lord convicting you? Pray, allowing God to reveal the true condition of your heart.  As he reveals sin, repent so that your heart would be pure as you approach Him in prayer.

Read and pray Psalm 139 : 23 – 24 – 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Spend some time praying about the motives of you heart and get that right with God.