Reconnecting with God

How do I pray? Is it simply a matter of finding the right place, enough time and an understanding of the things and people I want to talk to God about? Or, is there something else to it?

We’ll be looking at the scriptural understanding of prayer in our Sunday morning services during October and November. This series of studies will whet your appetite.

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Study 10: When do I stop?

No other words of the Bible are spoken more often than the 65 words we call the Lord’s Prayer.

dont stopCountless times every day, in the worship of the church and in the personal devotion of many Christians, these words spring to life: “Our Father, who art in heaven.” The prayer is sung, recited in unison, mumbled mindlessly at times and, at other times, choked out through sobs of pain, desperation or remorse.

For two thousand years Christians on every continent, and in every language, have lifted this prayer to God. When you take these words on your lips, you stand on sacred ground.

Study 9: When do I pray?

Pray without ceasing. It sounds good and wholly spiritual but how do we fit our conversation with God (prayer) into and around our busy lives?

When I pray
You can listen to messages about prayer, read books about prayer, and do Bible studies on prayer, but nothing really prepares you for prayer, other than by praying. But, If prayer were just an exercise that required us to assume a certain posture and recite certain phrases, then it would be impossible to follow Paul’s command (1 Thessalonians 5 verse 17).

Prayer is much more than that. It’s not something you do occasionally, or even for a few minutes every day. Prayer, when applied to your life the way God intended it to be, is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week conversation with God. It is a lifestyle.

Study 7: Why worry when you can pray?

We rarely give bread much thought. It’s a staple of most diets across the world and whether it’s a seeded batch loaf, a roti or a soft brown roll, there’s any number of ways you can turn flour into bread.  

Bread
In Swindon, few of us will have to worry where our next meal will come from. It’s a different matter though when it comes to concerns about money or work. When we face the job cuts in the kind of corporate downscale SBC are planning (announced 24/10/17) or when unexpected demands stretch our financial resources, it’s easy to worry. We know God provides; we’re just concerned how He will support us in the crisis we are facing right now.

Study 5: How should I pray?

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

Prayer
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.

Study 2: Showing respect

50 years ago Aretha Franklin had a Top 20 hit with a song penned by soul legend Otis Redding.  The song was very different from the mainstream love songs of the era: the song title R-E-S-P-E-C-T tells you everything you need to know about the message it was aiming to portray.

Honouring God
It’s one thing having a high opinion of another human being, it’s something else to express our understanding of and relationship with God – the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and eternal Redeemer of sinful humanity

 

Study 8: What kind of prayer?

Battles and wars are fought on many fronts.
Battle
On one level there are the strategic campaigns of big battles, fought over large areas, with army pitted against army, man against man.

Then, there are the tactical (day to day) matters: small pieces of the jigsaw that go on to make up the big picture of any military campaign. In any battle, though, not everything that contributes to victory or defeat is immediately visible: some things are certainly not as they first appear.

Study 6: Who gets involved?

What happens when you are in trouble? When someone comes to you in need, what do you do? Ignore them, add to their misery or extend the hand of help and support? 
Church at prayer
When you see someone going off the rails physically and spiritually do you leave them to God to get sorted out? Do you shrug your shoulders, thank God that you are not like that, and remind yourself that it’s His job to do it?

If there is one thing we can learn from the New Testament, it’s this: our responsibility as believers extends beyond ourselves - and our actions and our attitudes have a significant impact on the life of the church as a whole. Our calling as members of the body of Christ is to share the burdens, to enjoy the triumphs and to celebrate the joys of one another within the church community.

Study 4: What happens when we pray?

Something always happens when we pray. 
face to face with God
If we really mean business, then we begin by recognising that prayer says something about God - both His character and His intervention in everyday lives and events. Prayer also changes us when we pray and, if we pray for someone else, we can expect something to happen for them too.

"True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that - it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth." (Charles Spurgeon)

Study 3: Who's really in charge?

What were the first believers really like?  Were they really, as some have assumed, super saints who didn’t waver in their faith, becoming BFF’s (*) with everyone in the church?


This idea holds up (well, sort of) until you begin to read the New Testament. It didn’t take long for the cracks and crackpots to emerge and for the unity of the church to be threatened.

The first believers were as human as you and I. They had their own views on how things should be done, not everyone found it easy to adapt to community life and some struggled to work through the consequences of past relationships and behaviour. Then, as now, the church could be an explosive mix or it might – just – reflect the harmony characterised by a dependence on God’s leading.