Lesson Two: Pray So That…
Oh, how I LOVE our topic this week: Pray So That! But before we jump in to today’s lesson, thank you, thank you for the comments you have shared this week. Your sharing has been such a blessing not only to me but to all our sisters in Christ journeying with us through this study. You asked challenging questions, taught powerful truths, prayed beautiful prayers, and shared honestly from your hearts. This is what Bible Study is all about!!!
**For those of you who would like a cover sheet for your “Living So That Bible study (if you are using a notebook), please check out my Free Resources section. You will find a cover sheet there you can print out. Thank you Heather Bleier for helping me get this on-line!**
God made His power available to us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. This is a precious gift that belongs only to God’s children. The Spirit of the Living God lives in us. God desires that we be filled to the full with that presence. But we have a role in this.
We must actively pray for His Spirit to invade every part of our being. When we truly invite Him to fill us and use us, the supernatural experiences He will grant us, the ways He will use us, will blow our minds!
Friends, my prayer is that we would daily pursue a Spirit-filled, Christ-empowered life, a life Jesus can use to bring hope and healing to His broken and hurting world. May God receive all the praise, glory and honor for the fruit that result from our time together studying prayer!
Show us your glory this week, Lord, show us your glory!
Some of you may not know that I teach this Bible study live here in Charlotte. We recorded the teaching for this lesson a few weeks ago, so I thought rather than record a new one for you, I would share this teaching. It lasts 37 minutes, much longer than our usual messages, so I hope you don’t mind the change. Next week we will go back to the shorter messages from my kitchen. Also, there is a minute or two period where we lost sound, and I apologize for that, but it does came back.
This Week’s Memory verse:
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)
This Week’s Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of prayer. I invite You to speak a fresh Word to me this week. I don’t want my prayer time to be a religious ritual that I do each day. I don’t want it to be another thing I check off my “to do” list. Teach me to pray with power. I want my prayers to be effective and bring results that will glorify and honor You and You alone. Feed me Your Living and Active Word. Plant it deep in my heart so that I can recall it and pray it with my lips. As I speak Your Word and hold it before You, I trust You to honor it. Thank You that Your Word, when prayed, will not return void but will accomplish what You desire and achieve the purposes for which You sent it. Thank You that it will prosper in everything for which it is sent! Give me the courage to come boldly before Your throne of grace. When I arrive, Father, meet me there. Shower me with the presence of Your Holy Spirit. Make Yourself known to me. Be at work in my prayers. Show me Your glory, Lord! Show me Your glory! I love You so much. I ask all this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
A. Share a bit about your own prayer life. Do you pray? If so, describe your prayer life (time of day, frequency, manner of prayer –written, oral). If you don’t pray, share why.
What is prayer? Prayer is a love relationship with the God Who created us. Prayer is a gift. Prayer is a great privilege. Prayer is two-way communication. Prayer is cultivated. Prayer requires faith and action.
B. Read Hebrews 10:19-22 and Matthew 27:51. Because of what Jesus has done, opening the way for us to enter into His presence, we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence.” When you sit before the Lord in prayer, do you approach Him confidently? If you answered “no,” share why you find it hard to pray with confidence.
Friend, Jesus gave up His life so that you could be in relationship with Him, so that you could enter into His presence and fellowship with Him. If you are one who feels uncomfortable praying or feels unworthy to pray, spend time thanking Jesus for what He has done and ask Him to make His sacrifice a reality in your life. BELIEVE He did this just for you in prayer. Remember, He gave up His life to make it happen. He desires to hear your praises, your hopes, your dreams, and the cry of your heart.
Pray with me: Sweet Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross at Calvary, for tearing the curtain in two and making a way for me to be united as one with You. Help me to fully accept this gift. Open my heart to know You more intimately and to know how much You value me and find me worthy of Your love and Your time. Fill my heart with prayers of praise and thanksgiving and teach me to pray powerfully and effectively to make a difference in my life and the life of Your Kingdom.
C. Let’s look at Jesus’ teaching on prayer found in Luke 11:1-13.Read this passage of Scripture. On this occasion when Jesus had finished praying, His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Most of us are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer. But today we will focus, not on the prayer, but on the verses following the prayer.
1. What do you learn in verses 5-8?
2. What do you learn in verses 9-10?
3. What do you learn in verses 11-13?
Let’s dig a bit more. Thessalonians 5:17 says, pray “continually.” The King James Translation says pray “without ceasing.” Interestingly, in the Greek this word does not speak of something uninterrupted, but of something constantly recurring. We are called to a continual state of prayer of prayer.
Paul does not stop after instructing us to pray continually. Why? Because to pray continually, without purpose and/or direction, is not effective prayer. Paul gives more direction in Colossians 4:2: “be watchful and thankful.” Watchfulness implies activity on our part. Ephesians again confirms this in 6:18, which says,
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests. With this in mind, be alert…”
These words speak of watching with purpose, being intent upon something. When we pray, God invites us into a two-way relationship which involves two-way communication. We need to eagerly anticipate answers to our prayers. We need to watch for Him to be at work. One way to “be watchful” is to look for answers. Open the Word with great expectancy to hear from Him, praying show me, God. Look for a change in your circumstances, praying show me God. Listen to words of wisdom from friends, praying show me, God. Listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit, praying show me God. By doing this, you are positioning your heart to pray continually.
D. Share a memorable time in your life when you were watchful and experienced answered prayer.
Our church’s women’s ministry leader, Lisa Allen, shared a great way to bring watchfulness alive in your prayer life. She uses “prayer triggers.” When you have a person or group of people for whom God calls you to pray, be creative. Think of something that reminds you of the person for whom you are praying. Invite God to open your eyes to see that trigger and use it to remind you to pray. Lisa loves all things leopard, so whenever I see anything leopard, the Lord reminds me to pray for Lisa. If you assign triggers to special people in your life, think of how many times throughout the day you will pray! Again you are positioning your heart to pray continually.
E. Prayerfully choose someone for whom to pray. Choose a prayer trigger that will remind you to pray. Journal how God worked throughout the week as you faithfully prayed using your prayer trigger.
F. Read Matthew 26:36-45. What happened here when Jesus asked His disciples to watch and pray?
I wonder if Jesus hoped for more from His friends. He only asked for one hour, just one hour of their time. They could not give it. Perhaps if they had truly understood all that He had told them about what was to come, about what He was to suffer, things might have been different. Maybe they would have sacrificed that single hour of sleep. We will never know.
1. What about you? Is Your Savior asking something of you concerning prayer that you are not giving? Take some time to listen and pray before you answer. Share what you hear and feel below.
2. Jesus tells the disciples exactly why He wanted them to “watch and pray” in Matthew 26:41. What is the “so that” here?
3. What is the temptation of which He speaks?
“Temptation” as used here is from the Greek word peirasmos and refers to “trials with a beneficial purpose and effect.” They are divinely permitted trials and temptations. As specifically used here, it refers to trials and temptations entered into by a person’s disobedience or carelessness. Matthew Henry in his commentary writes,
“There was an hour of temptation drawing on, and very near; the troubles of Christ were temptations to his followers to disbelieve and distrust him, to deny and desert him, and renounce all relation to him. There was danger of their entering into the temptation, as into a snare or trap; of their entering into a parley with it, or a good opinion of it, of their being influenced by it, and inclining to comply with it; which is the first step toward being overcome by it.”
Jesus knew the danger and trouble that lie ahead for His disciples. Spending time praying with Jesus and for Him would have not only blessed them but also equipped and empowered them for all they were about to endure.
The same is true for us, sweet friend. Our God is All-Knowing. He alone knows what our future holds. God has given us this gift of prayer. He intends to use it to prepare us. In prayer, God girds us up for the trials, battles and temptations that will come our way.
When you do pray, do you struggle because sometimes it seems God does not hear or answer your prayer? You say, “God, I do believe; help me with my unbelief.” You pray and want to believe that God will answer your prayers. You know that His Word says in Christ all things are possible. (Philippians 4:13) But your circumstances do not change. Your answer does not come.
G. Read Mark 9:14-29.
1. Who lacked faith in Mark 9:17-18?
Before we move on, it’s vital you know that in Luke 9:1, Jesus gave the disciples the “power and authority to drive out all demons, and to cure diseases.” So why were they not able to cast the demon out? Did they never actually receive the power? Did Jesus decide they were not worthy of that power and take it back?
The disciples were confused as well. So they asked Jesus why they were unable to drive out the demons. Jesus answered, “This kind can only come out by prayer.” In Matthew’s gospel, He answered, “Because you have so little faith.” Matthew 17:20a. Did the answers Mark and Matthew gave contradict one another? Absolutely not! Faith and prayer go hand in hand. Prayer empowers faith.
Jesus was both disappointed and disturbed by their lack of faith and understanding. Perhaps they had lost confidence because He was not with them. Or maybe they missed the presence of Peter, James and John, their leaders, who had gone with Jesus up the mountain. Or perhaps the teachers of the law and the crowd intimidated them. Were the leaders discouraging them? Was the crowd mocking them? We don’t know.
2. The disciples were not the only ones who lacked faith in this story. Who else exhibited a lack of faith? Explain his interaction with Jesus, focusing on his words in Mark 9:21-22.
Jesus asked the father how long his son had been sick. In Mark 9:22b, the father began his statement with the word “But.” The use of this word revealed a glimmer of hope. This was all Jesus needed to hear and know there was faith tucked somewhere deep inside this father’s heart.
The father’s next words, “if you can…,”elicited a strong response from Jesus. Jesus repeated the father’s words back to him, almost as if to say Are you kidding me? If I can! Of course I can! Of course Jesus can. He is all authority on heaven and on earth. He is the Healer.
The father’s next words to Jesus were ” do anything.” Jesus’ answer to this father could not have been clearer: “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23b
Not just anything but everything is possible. We must set no limits on God. When we pray and ask, we must pray with full belief that He is able. The quandary is that sometimes what we ask is not what He wills. But He is always able.
3. Jesus’ words to the father were enough for another step of faith. What were the father’s next words to Jesus in Mark 9:24? How long did it take him to come to this conclusion?
Jesus had spoken Truth into the father’s heart and mind. And as he looked into Jesus’ eyes, the father believed. He wanted to believe one hundred percent, but he wasn’t quite there, so he cried out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
Positionally, this is where Jesus wants us when we pray. He wants us to pray in faith, believing He is able. (James 1:5-7) And when the evil one begins to plant seeds of doubt, He wants us to cry out for His help so that we can take every negative thought, every doubting thought and every lie captive and replace it with Truth. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Read and reread the following statement I found in my research:
“What makes faith valid is not its subjective strength, but the trustworthiness of its object.” Jesus is the object of our faith. It is Him in whom we trust…not ourselves, not our emotions, not our abilities…but in Him alone.
4. Read Hebrews 11:6 and write it below. What is the author saying to us about faith?
When you doubt God is listening, when you doubt He is at work, remember the truths we have studied today. Jesus knows our weaknesses because He was one of us. He is anxious for us to have a deep and abiding faith. So, when we pray, He will supply what we lack. He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) The disciples failed in their efforts because they had neglected prayer and preparation. The authority Jesus had given them was still effective. But not for them in that moment because they had failed to prepare their hearts and minds to do that which Jesus had authorized them to do. Faith does not just happen. It must be cultivated. We must engage in spiritual disciplines like praying, studying and fasting. Jesus was frustrated because He knew they had been careless with their faith.
H. Read John 14:13. What is the “so that” in this verse (NIV) and what does it speak to your heart about prayer?
Does this verse teach that whatever we pray in Jesus’ name, we get? No, absolutely not. The first part of this verse, “I will do whatever you ask in my name,” is not a magic formula. Praying in Jesus’ name does not guarantee that God will deliver. Praying in Jesus’ name means something far different. It means that when we pray we are asking God for something that aligns with His will, something that would please Him, something that would bring Him glory and further His Kingdom on earth.
I. Read 1 John 5:14-15. Write this verse in your own words. How does it confirm our “so that” verse?
We have enormous spiritual power coursing through our veins. Do we understand it? Do we access it? Do we pray for it to become powerful and effective in our prayers and in our lives? For most of us, the answer is “no.” Writing this lesson convicted me to cry out for more of His power in my prayer life. I want Him to fan the flames of my faith to greater heights! I want to be used to do the “even greater things” because He has gone to be with the Father. (John 14:12)
Speaking His name alone is not enough. We must understand His nature and character. We must know His will. The goal of our prayer must be to honor God and His name, not ourselves. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are standing before God in Jesus’ place. We are pleading before the Father not because of who we are, but because of Who Jesus is.
J. At the beginning of the week, you answered questions about your prayer life. Now that you have studied prayer and its role in giving you a bolder faith, will you make changes in your prayer life? If you answered “yes,” share what step(s) you will take and write a prayer committing this to the Lord.
My Call to Action:
If you are not comfortable with praying, take baby steps. Choose one area we have studied this week and apply it in your prayer life. Maybe you need to really know and understand God loves you. Search for verses on His love, study them and even memorize them. Keep them close to your heart until you feel His love seep into the depths of your soul.
Maybe you struggle with spending time alone with God. Set aside a short time each day with no agenda (maybe just three to five minutes). For example, open your Bible to the book of Psalms and read for just a few minutes. Begin to pray some of the psalms back to God, personalizing them with “I” and “me.” Get a little notebook or journal and record what you learn, hear and feel as you abide in Him.
If you already have a daily prayer life, apply what you have learned in this lesson and take it to the next level. Select areas in your life (or people) and search for verses that speak to those areas. Study the verses and personalize them for your situation. Commit to pray each verse, fully believing that God will work in and through them just as He promises. Invite Him to be at work. Anticipate His work. Journal what you learn, hear and feel through this process.
If you are struggling with how to take the next step, here are a few examples: If you have circumstances right now that seem impossible, remember God promises in His Word…
* All things are possible. Luke 18:27
*If you feel you are over-committed and so tired that you cannot take another step, remember God promises that He will give you rest and you can do all things through Him who strengthens you. Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:13
*If you feel lost and confused and don’t know what direction to take, remember God gives you a formula that shows you how He will direct your steps. Proverbs 3:5-6
*If you hold tightly to things from the past, things for which you cannot forgive yourself, remember God’s promise: I forgive you. 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1
*If you worry about your finances or how you will make ends meet, remember He promises to supply all your needs. Philippians 4:19
*If you fear what the future holds for your husband, your marriage, your children, your job, remember He has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
I share these verses as a starting point. Take the verse given and search for more using key words and the concordance in the back of your Bible. Use the notes for each verse found in your margins and at the bottom of each page. Pray for the Lord to lead you through His Word.
I am praying for you, sweet friend…praying for God to do big things this week! Please, please share what God is teaching you throughout the week!