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.

It is up to us to keep the lines of communication open with God. As long as those lines are open, God can continue to work in your life. If your attitude is wrong, He can help you correct it. If you have sin in your life, He can help you overcome it. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, He can help you develop a more accurate perspective on life.

Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty (E.M. Bounds)

Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phlippians 4: 6 - 7)

To think about

  1. How do we maintain a good work/life/church balance?
  2. What kick starts your prayer life?
  3. What do you find it easiest/hardest to pray about?

Please read 1 Thessalonians 5 verses 16 to 28

A complete ministry (verses 16 to 22)

  1. In what ways does the practical advice found in verses 16 to 22 build a committed pattern for discipleship?
  2. Which of these commands (there are 8 of them), do we find it hardest to engage with in church life?
  3. Verses 17 and 18 may appear at first sight to be unachievable. How can we pray continually and give thanks whatever happens?
  4. Study 8 reminded us how we are respond when are tested or tempted. How does prayer help us when we are weighing external circumstances or determining God’s will?
  5. Where (or to whom) do you turn to find understanding at such times?

1 & 2 Thessalonians were written around AD 50 and are some of the earliest surviving documents we have of the New Testament. Despite the riots when Paul first came to preach the gospel, the church grew as many former pagans now accepted Christ. The persecution continued to the extent that the church longed for the return of Christ – Paul concludes his first letter by explaining how the believers should live in expectation of that event. This is a reminder to us of how all church communities should be shaped by the gospel.

A faithful hope (verses 23 to 28)

  1. What does it look like to be a Christian today? Where does this differ from the position in the world of the New Testament?
  2. List the characteristics of a church community found in verses 16 to 28. How can we ensure that our fellowship demonstrates these values and attitudes?
  3. What comfort and encouragement do we find in the blessing found in verses 23 to 24?
  4. Why do we need to work out our Salvation? What part does sanctification (demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit) have in this?
  5. How does Paul emphasise the importance of prayer in anxious times?

Prayer: give thanks for

  • what God has done in your life
  • the people He has provided to help you
  • the hope you have in Christ

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