Wednesday Night Bible Study


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Spiritual Disciplines


  • Why Pray
    • Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of the spiritual life. Of all the spiritual disciplines prayer is themes central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.
    • Real prayer is life creating and life changing.
    • To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God, the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ.
    • James 4:3
      •  3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
      • In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills.
    • Mark 1:35
      • 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.
      • All who have walked with God have viewed prayer as the main business of their lives.
    • For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked onto the periphery of their lives; it was their lives. It was the most serious work of their most productive years.
      • Shouldn’t discourage us though
      • But rather than flagellating ourselves for our obvious lack, we should remember that God always meets us where we are and slowly moves us along into deeper things
        • Casual joggers don’t immediately become Olympic marathoners
        • They prepare and train
        • When such a progression is followed, we can expect to pray a year from now with greater authority and spiritual success than at present
      • If things cannot be changed, why prayer? 
        • The Bible doesn’t teach that
        • The Bible pray-ers prayed as if their prayers could and would make an objective difference
        • I Corinthians 3:9
          • 9 For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
        • Moses prayed boldly because he believed his prayers could change things, even God’s mind. 
        • The Bible stresses the openness of our universe; it speaks of God constantly changing his mind in accord with his unchanging love
          • Exodus 32:11-14
            • 11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God: “Lord, why does your anger burn against your people you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out with an evil intent to kill them in the mountains and eliminate them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger and relent concerning this disaster planned for your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel—you swore to them by yourself and declared, ‘I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and will give your offspring all this land that I have promised, and they will inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord relented concerning the disaster he had said he would bring on his people.
          • Jonah 3:6-10
            • 6 When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he issued a decree in Nineveh: By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. 8 Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish. 10 God saw their actions—that they had turned from their evil ways—so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.
          • This comes as a genuine liberation to many of us, but it also sets tremendous responsibility before us. We are working with God to determine the future! Certain things will happen in history if we pray rightly. We are to change the world by prayer. What more motivation do we need to learn this loftiest human exercise?
      • Different types of prayer
        • There are many types of prayer to learn
        • For our study, we will be focusing on intercession
          • Learning how to pray effectively for others
      • Learning to Pray
        • Real prayer is something we learn. 
          • The disciples asked Jesus to teach them
            • They had prayed all their lives, but they saw something different in the way that Jesus prayed
            • There is a learning process to praying, which should free us when we realize that even if we fail, we are still learning for the next time.
        • Foster, after studying all of Jesus’ teachings on prayer
          • “I was shocked. Either the excuses and rationalizations for unanswered prayer I had been taught were wrong, or Jesus’ words were wrong. I determined to learn to pray so that my experience conformed to the words of Jesus rather than try to make his words conform to my impoverished experience.”
        • The most astonishing characteristic of Jesus’ praying is that when he prayed for others he never concluded by saying “if it be thy will”
          • Neither did the apostles or prophets
            • They believed that they knew what the will of God was before they prayed.
            • Their praying was so positive that it took the form of a direct, authoritative command: “Walk”, “Be well,” “Stand up.” When praying for others there was evidently no room for indecisive, tentative, half-hoping, “If it be thy will” prayers.
              • Of course there are times for those prayers, as you’re trying to determine the will of God, or lay your will down over following God’s will.
        • “Prayer is to religion what original research is to science.” P.T. Forsythe
          • As we pray, and see results, one way or the other, it helps us determine what we may be doing correctly and incorrectly
          • We can determine we are praying correctly if the requests come to pass. If not, we look for the “block”; perhaps we are praying wrongly, perhaps something within us needs changing, perhaps there are new principles of prayer to be learned, perhaps patience and persistence are needed. We listen, make the necessary adjustments, and try again.
        • We begin praying for others by first quieting our fleshly activity and listening to the silent thunder fo the Lord of hosts.
          • “A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening.”~Soren Kierkegaard
          • We must hear, know, and obey the will of God before we pray it into the lives of others.
            • The prayer of guidance constantly precedes and surrounds the prayer of faith.
          • When we listen, we will learn the importance of beginning with smaller things like colds or earaches. 
            • Success in the small corners of life gives us authority in the larger matters. If we are still, we will learn not only who God is, but how his power operates.
        • Compassion is a must
          • If we genuinely love people, we desire for them far more than it is within our power to give, and that will cause us to pray
      • The Foothills of Prayer
        • We should never make prayer too complicated
          • Jesus taught us to come like children to a father
            • Openness, honesty, and trust mark the communication of children with their father.
            • Children do not find it difficult or complicated to talk to their parents, nor do they feel embarrassed to bring the simplest need to their attention. Neither should owe hesitate to bring the simplest requests confidently to the Father.
          • Pray with imagination
            • Imagine what God wants out of a situation, and then pray that result
            • We are not trying to conjure up something in our imagination that is not so. Nor are we trying to manipulate God and tell him what to do. Quite the opposite. We are asking God to tell us what to do.
            • The ideas, the pictures, the words are of no avail unless they proceed from the Holy Spirit
              • Romans 8:26-27
                • 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
          • When to Pray
            • We must never wait until we feel like praying before we pray for others
              • We may not feel like working, but once we have been at it for a bit, we begin to feel like working
              • Prayer muscles need to be limbered up a bit and once the blood flow of intercession begins, we will find that we feel like praying.
            • Don’t worry about it taking up too much time
              • Prayer and action become wedded
              • “There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a more profound level, we may also be in prayer and adorations, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.”~Thomas Kelly

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