Prayer and the Believer
Notes on Session 13, Sunday, December 20th:
- Session on Lesson 8
- Welcome to new members of the class
- Personal highlights from MacArthur’s message?
- Challenges in filling in Answers in Lesson 8?
- Questions to be addressed?
- Objectives for Lesson 8:
- To explain the purposes of prayer
- To exhort us to spend time in prayer
- To teach us how to pray in a practical way.
Common Questions for Lesson 8:
- Since God is sovereign and all things have been decreed by Him, and since God is omniscient and knows all things, then why pray?
- What does praying without ceasing look like in a believer’s life?
Class Plan for Lesson 8:
- Review the Nature and Purpose of Prayer
- Discuss the Conditions of Answered Prayer
- Practically Cover How to Pray and What to Pray For
- Review the Challenges of Prayer
- Application of Prayer
1. The Nature And Purpose of Prayer [ Section I of Lesson 8]
- Prayer brings us into reverent communion with God.
- We worship Him and acknowledge Him as sovereign, wise and faithful.
- The purpose of Prayer
- Prayer brings glory to God, John 14:13, Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
- Prayer aligns our will with God’s will, Luke 22:42, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
- Prayer brings peace, Phil. 4:6-7, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- We pray to confess sin, 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- To cast our burdens upon God, 1 Pet. 5:6-7, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
- Prayer is powerful, James 5:16-18, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
- Prayer is not an option:
- Jesus’ example, Matt. 14:23, And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
- We are commanded to pray at all times, 1 Th. 5:17-18, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Why pray if God is sovereign, and all things have been decreed by Him?
- What does it mean to “pray at all times”?
2. The Practice of Prayer [Section II]
- Conditions for Answered Prayer
- We must abide in Christ, John 15:7, If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
- We must pray consistent with God’s will, Matt. 6:10, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
- We must confess Christ as Lord, 1 John 4:15, Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
- We must be obedient & committed to the Word of God, 1 John 3:22, and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
- Pray according to the will of God, 1 John 5:14, And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
- Asking in His name, John 14:13-14, Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
- For that which brings God glory, John 14:13.
- To align your will with God’s will, Matt. 6:10.
- Hindrances to answered prayer:
- Sin, Ps. 66:18, If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
- Wrong motives, James 4:3, You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
- Lack of faith, James 1:5-8, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
- Sin, Ps. 66:18, If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
3. How To Pray [Section II]
General Guidelines of Prayer:
- Pray to the Father; Through Christ; in the power of the Spirit: Matt. 6:9, Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Eph. 2:17-18, And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
- If you do not know what to pray for, ask the Holy Spirit to intercede. Rom. 8:26, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
- Intimate communion with God, Matt. 6:6, But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
- Don’t use meaningless repetition, Matt. 6:7-8, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
- Don’t be hasty, Eccl. 5:2, Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Jesus’ Pattern for Prayer:
- Lord’s prayer provides a framework for our prayers, Matt. 6:9a, Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
- Structure of the Lord’s prayer (ACTS):
- Adoration – reflect on God, praise for His attributes
- Confession – admit our sin, be honest and humble
- Thanksgiving – be grateful to God for all He has given us
- Supplication – make specific requests, first for others, then for yourself
- Key points in the prayer:
- Our Father – God is Father of all; pray for others, family, not just yourself; show respect, authority, obedience
- Hallowed be Your name – recount attributes of God to praise Him
- Your kingdom come – anticipate Christ’s second coming; pray for salvation of souls
- Your will be done – pray that your will align with His will
- Give us this day our daily bread – pray for one’s needs; recognize God as the provider
- Forgive us our debts – confessing our sins, 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Lead us not into temptation, but lead us from evil – resist temptations of the devil, Matt. 4:7, Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
- For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever – exalt our all-powerful God, a note of praise.
- What is the importance of the words used in the Lord’s prayer key points?
- How do the key points fit into the acronym ACTS?
- Prayer can be discouraging
- e.g. David’s discouragement in Ps. 22:1-28
- v. 1-2, David is discouraged
- v. 3-6, David recognizes God’s faithfulness
- v. 7-18, David shares his burdens
- v. 19-21, David calls on God for help
- v. 22-24, David praises God
- v. 25-28, David is lifted up
- We need to recognize God as our help, cast our cares upon Him, leads to encouragement and praise
- Answers to prayer – governed by God’s sovereignty and purposes
- Prayers sometimes answered immediately, Is. 65:24, Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
- Answers sometimes delayed, Luke 18:7, And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
- Exhorted to be persistent, Luke 18:1, And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
- Answers sometimes different from request, 2 Cor. 12:7-9, So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
- Making claims from God – how to handle in light of:
- The sovereignty of God
- Praying according to God’s will
- The ultimate purpose of prayer
- How did Jesus exemplify prayer? Mark 14:35-36, And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
5. Application of Prayer [Section IV]
- Use the Lord’s Prayer as a framework for our prayers
- Start with recognition and praise of God
- Reflect on His attributes
- Confess our sins
- Have an attitude of thankfulness
- Petition – first for others, then for yourself
- What key lessons have you learned about prayer?
- How will this change how you pray and what you pray for?
- Have you ever received an unexpected answer to prayer?
- Pastor Todd Wagner, Why pray if God knows everything anyway?
- John MacArthur, Can we really pray without ceasing? (1 Th. 5).
- John MacArthur, What is our role in prayer?
- John Piper, Prayer does things.
- Pastor Jeremy Treat, If God is sovereign, why pray?
- John MacArthur, How to pray – Help from the Holy Spirit.
- John MacArthur, What is the purpose of the Lord’s Prayer? (Matt. 6).
- Susan Boyle, The Lord’s Prayer.