Study 5: How should I pray?

There's nothing more inspiring than the power of example. 

When we see a friend involved in something they feel is important and which clearly lifts them significantly, we'll want to join in if we can. When it's clearly a vital part of their life, there's an added impetus for us to take part.

The disciples have been with Jesus as he's taught the crowds, healed the sick and shared food and drink with outcasts. They've seen demons cast out, the religious system (and its leaders) challenged and have committed to following him.

It seems strange that, after all this time and having seen Jesus at work, that they are so unsure about something many now consider to be such a vital part of the believer's relationship with God. Were they overawed by what Jesus was doing?

We don't know to be honest but they would hardly be human in they weren't deeply affected by what they had seen and been part of. Perhaps we may see their uncertainty more in light of a new direction - not in praying itself but rather in the manner of our access to, and conversation with, God.

The man who would truly worship God, would find and know and possess and enjoy God, must be in harmony with Him, must have a capacity for receiving Him. Because God is Spirit, we must worship in spirit .As God is, so is His worshipper (Andrew Murray, Lord Teach us to Pray)

Our vision of the heavenly realm...can sustain us through the most difficult of days and circumstances. It births hope amidst hardship and nurtures faith amidst opposition (David Timms,  Living the Lord's Prayer)

To think about

  1. When you pray do you plan and prepare or are you more inclined to spontaneity? Give examples of your personal style
  2. How do you pray - do you follow a pattern or are you led by God?
  3. What leads you into prayer? (music, reading, devotional book, reflecting on people and events)
  4. What have you learned from following the approach to prayer adopted by others?

Please read Luke 11 verses 1 to 13

Prayer was a way of life for Jesus. He prayed with thanksgiving on the occasion of His baptism (Luke 3 verse 21) and cried out to God in Gethsemane on His last night on earth (Luke 22 verses 41 to 42). We not told why Jesus is praying in a certain place – just that He is. This simple fact reminds us that, as for Jesus, prayer should be as natural as breathing and as regular a conversation as we would have with our closet and dearest friend.

The nature of our prayers

  1. What are the significant differences between this version of the Lord’s Prayer and that of Matthew 6 verses 9 to 13?
  2. Matthew translates the word “sins” (verse 4) as “debts.” How does this latter word give us an understanding of what we owe God?
  3. What statements are there in this prayer?
  4. What requests are being made?
  5. How do these approaches help to give us a wider picture of how we should pray?

Jesus reinforces His teaching with two stories. These parables invite the disciples to put themselves in the circumstances he describes – how they might respond to a friend in need and how generous they would be to a reasonable request from a much loved child.

The response to our prayers

  1. How do you react to someone’s relentless requests for something?
  2. How is it possible to misuse or abuse the promises in verses 9 &10?
  3. Based on this passage, what would you say to a friend who has prayed about a specific issue for a long time but has not yet seen God respond?
  4. As Jesus has “taught you to pray” over the course of this study, what has changed in your approach and attitude toward prayer? How has your view of God changed or been made clearer?

Making Prayer Real

Consider what you are learning in each of the areas mentioned in the prayer:

  • “Father, hallowed be your name”
  • “Your kingdom come”
  • “Give us each day our daily bread”
  • “Forgive us our sins”
  • “Lead us not into temptation”

Ask God to continue to teach you how to pray.

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