Lesson 3: Talking Back

Memory Text:

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).


Fun Facts of the Day:

  • The word “pray” (or variations of it such as prayed/prayer/etc.) appears 392 times in the NKJV Bible: 231 times in the Old Testament, and 161 times in the New Testament.
  • The word “pray” is first used in Genesis 20:7…
  • And is last seen in Revelation 8:4.
  • There are approximately 640 prayers recorded in the Bible…
  • And approximately 450 answers to those prayers.
  • Psalms uses the word “pray” more than any other book in the Bible (coming in at 61 times). This is followed by Acts (32), Luke (27), and 2 Chronicles (24).

Lesson:

Lesson 3 – Talking Back (PowerPoint)

The Bible is, without a doubt, essential to the life of a Christian. It is the “Swiss army knife” of our lives, able to help us through any situation no matter how difficult it may seem. It is also God’s living text message, a collection of warnings and love letters sent from God to us.

But what about the other way around? Can we talk back to God? If the Bible is God’s text message to us, prayer is our response. But what is prayer, exactly? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it.


Saturday: What is Prayer?

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

What did you notice about that verse? Did you notice that prayers are mentioned separate from supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings?

What is prayer?

It’s an age old question, one that has done more than just spark a few debates here and there. The definition of “prayer” is as follows:

  1. a devout petition to God or an object of worship.
  2. a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.
  3. the act or practice of praying to God or an object of worship.
  4. a formula or sequence of words used in or appointed for praying
  5. prayers, a religious observance, either public or private, consisting wholly or mainly of prayer.
  6. that which is prayed for.
  7. a petition; entreaty.

In the Hebrew Bible, the word we translate as “prayer” comes from the root word palal, which means “to intervene or interpose.” It is interesting to note that this is the same root used in the words for “wall-builder”, “judge,” and “mediator.”

Originally, the word “pray” was a specific form of communication between people and God. It was considered to be all-together different from the act of giving thanks or praise. Prayer, in its original sense, was specifically the act of asking God for help or mercy, either on behalf of the person praying or on behalf of someone associated with the one praying.

In the modern era, the word “pray” has developed a much broader meaning. Definition 2, “a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession,” is probably the most accurate one for us today. Essentially, it means “talking to God.”

Think about it:

  • What do you think prayer is?
  • Why do you think prayer is important?
  • Do you think a person can be a Christian and not pray?

Sunday: How to Pray

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).

…and…

So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one” (Luke 11:2-4).

“Teach us to pray.”

For something so simple, prayer is surprisingly difficult for us humans to wrap our minds around. So difficult, in fact, that even Jesus’ own disciples asked that He teach them how to pray.

Prayer is often seen as a ritual, more a necessity than a privilege. Often we fall into a routine of prayer without really thinking about what it is we’re praying for and, when faced with the challenge of coming up with something new to say in prayer, we find ourselves asking the very question that no doubt was running through the minds of the disciples in the story above: “How should we pray?”

Jesus answer was quick, a ready response to the question we all have probably asked at one point or another, but we shouldn’t mistake His example as the only legitimate prayer. When Jesus gave that prayer to the disciples, He was giving them a formula, acknowledging the disciples’ uncertainties and providing for them a guide for what God wants to hear:

  • “Our Father in heaven…” – God wants to be a part of us, a provider and a protector who is there for you and who you trust completely.
  • “Hallowed be Your name…” – Though a part of your life, a friend and a family member, God is still God. Respect is key, and He wants us to remember that He isn’t just some other person on the street. He is holy.
  • “Your kingdom come…” – This is the great longing of all who love God: to see the day when we will no longer be separated from Him.
  • “Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven…” –  Just as our longing is to be reunited with our Creator, it is our desire to do God’s work with as much fervor and commitment as that of the angels who serve Him in heaven.
  • “Give us this day our daily bread…” – God may be all-powerful and all-supreme, but that doesn’t mean He’s only there to rule us with an iron fist. God genuinely cares about His people, and it’s not just ok to ask God for what we need; He wants us to ask Him for it.
  • “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors…” – It is human nature to want revenge. In a relationship with God, however, we recognize that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, as well as in need of the strength to forgive others as much as God has forgiven us.
  • “And do not lead us into temptation But deliver us from the evil one…” – We, of our own power, can do nothing against the temptations that surround us every day. We must ask for God’s help to overcome them.

There are a lot of elements to prayer, but if you’re looking for a formula to get started, this is it: let God know that you accept Him as an integral part of your life, acknowledge His position as God, tell Him how much you are looking forward to seeing Him, let Him know how much you are willing to do His work, never be afraid to ask God for what you need, acknowledge your sins, ask for forgiveness, and always ask for strength to resist the trials of this life.

Think about it:

  • What are the differences in the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer?
  • When might one of the versions be more appropriate than the other in your spiritual life?
  • Why do you think the Lord’s Prayer is important to Christianity? To you?

Monday: The Solitary Prayer

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly (Matthew 6:5-6).

I can see it now. Probably every teenager (and maybe even some adults) that I have ever known is jumping up and down right now saying, “See?! This is why I shouldn’t pray in public!”

The “solitary prayer,” as it can be called, is probably the most important type of prayer you can pray. This is not to say that the public prayer is any less important, but the solitary prayer is this: a personal communication between you and God.

Think of it this way.

Say you have a best friend who loves to send you text messages. Whenever you’re feeling sad, your friend knows just what to text you to cheer you up. When you are having to make a difficult decision, your friend texts you with a great idea for how to solve the problem you’re facing. Sometimes, your friend even texts you about the day they’ve had and the people they’ve met. But then, imagine that you never responded to your friend’s texts. How do you think they’d feel? How would you feel if you were them?

Prayer is your return text, a message of thanks, and requests, and praises that let God know just how much you care about Him and appreciate what He has done for you. It’s not that God has to have your response; He wants it. He wants to be connected to you, to have a personal relationship with you that is more than just a show of your advanced vocabulary to any ear that has the (mis)fortune of coming your way.

Think about it:

  • Is it ok to talk to God like a friend?
  • Why is personal prayer so important?
  • Do you think God wants us to actually say what’s on our minds? Why do you think so?

Tuesday: The Public Prayer

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:19-20).

We’ve talked about the importance of the “solitary prayer,” so now we should ask another question: “Why pray in public?”

It is an interesting question, considering what we just read in Matthew 6 which seems to speak against praying in public. Often times, public prayers seem either like shows or meaningless rituals, the very thing that Jesus warned against. When it came to the priests in Jesus’ time, prayers could seem forever long, and often glorified the supposed righteousness of the one praying.

However, while praying alone is indeed a vital part of the life of a Christian, there is a place for public prayer, especially prayer among fellow believers.

In Matthew 18:19-20, it says, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

While this doesn’t mean God doesn’t listen or draw near to you when you’re praying alone, this does mean that there is a certain power in fellow believers praying together.

There is a story I heard once about a missionary who worked in a remote jungle village. Most of the people in the area the missionary worked were very poor, and so the missionary would walk about a day’s journey into a larger village to get medicine and supplies for the people he worked with.

One day, the missionary met a man while going to pick up some particularly expensive medicine, and the two struck up a conversation about the missionary’s work. The man was friendly and had lots of questions, but once the missionary got the supplies he came for, the two went their separate ways.

That night, the missionary set up camp in a little clearing in the jungle. For some reason, he felt like he was being watched, but he couldn’t see or hear anything suspicious. After praying, the missionary fell asleep just fine, and he continued on to the village he was working with the next day.

Several weeks went by, and again the missionary needed supplies in the big village he often went to. As he waited for his supplies to be readied, the man from before approached him, looking this way and that as if searching for something or someone. When the man got close to the missionary, he looked at him and asked, “Where are your white soldiers?”

The missionary, confused by the question, responded, “What soldiers?”

“Your white soldiers,” the man replied.. “The ones who were guarding you the night after we talked together.”

“I have no soldiers with me,” the missionary told the man. “I was alone that night, too.”

“No, no,” the man argued. “I saw them. The others with me saw them, too. That night, my companions and I followed you to the place where you camped. We were going to steal the medicine you had bought that day. But there were soldiers guarding you, big soldiers wearing white. They stayed up all night guarding you.”

“How many?” the missionary asked.

The man told him the number, which was over half a dozen.

“There was no one with me that night,” the missionary said. “What you saw were angels, guardians sent by my God to protect me from your plans.”

Years later, the missionary returned to the states, and one Sabbath he told this story in his home church. After his story had finished, one woman stood up, tears in her eyes.

“I know exactly when that was,” the woman told him. “That night, I tried to go to sleep, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. I felt that I needed to pray for you, and so I called as many people as I could think of and we all gathered in this church to pray for you.”

Curious, the missionary inquired as to exactly how many people had gone to the church that night to pray. The number the woman gave was the exact number of angels the man had said he had seen. For every person praying together that night, God had sent the missionary an angel to guard him.

Yes, solitary prayers are important. But never underestimate the power of prayers shared among fellow believers either.

Think about it:

  • What do you think Jesus was talking about when He told his listeners to pray in their “closets”?
  • Why do you think God pays special attention to the prayers of those who pray together?
  • In what ways can a public prayer be a positive thing?

Wednesday: Spirit of Prayer

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:2-8).

What makes prayer powerful?

Too often, we go through life praying as though we are robots. Yes, we know the methods, the rituals, the formulas. We figure, as long as we’re doing it right, that’s all that matters. Prayer is powerful. It can change lives as much as the study of the Bible can. But it is only powerful when we have one key ingredient: faith.

In the book Steps to Christ, it says,

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary, in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him (pg. 93).

One of the most terrifying things a person can do in their life is open themselves up to someone else, to allow that person to see every weakness and every flaw, and to give themselves completely over to that person. More difficult still is placing absolute faith in a power the world has deemed either fanciful or downright crazy.

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” they say, and this is especially true when talking about prayer. Prayer exists in the life of a Christian not merely to please God but, rather, to give us a chance to use our faith, so that by doing that, we can learn to trust him more completely.

Think about it:

  • How does James 1:2-8 define prayer?
  • What is faith?
  • Why is it important to have faith when praying?

Thursday: A Prayer of Request

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15).

There are few things that God wants more than to prove to His followers how much He cares about us. Having faith that God can fulfill our every request is key to that. Having faith that God can do something, however, isn’t everything.

Often people ask, “Why didn’t God answer my prayer?”

It is hard to explain why things don’t always turn out the way we expect them or want them to. If faith is all we need, why does it sometimes seem that God is simply ignoring us? Is it that He only answers when He feels like it? Or could it be that we aren’t actually asking the right question? Because, when we ask the question, “Why didn’t God answer my prayer?” what we are really asking is, “Why didn’t God answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to?”

I’m as guilty of it as anybody. When I was a teenager, I had picked out one young man who I just knew was the right one for me, and so I begged God to let me marry him. I was heartbroken when he turned me down. When I got older, I asked God to heal people I cared about, but He didn’t always do that. After I graduated from college, I begged God to help me get certain jobs that I wanted. Nothing went as planned.

Can I explain why God didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to? No. Especially when it came to the question of healing the people I cared about. But what I do know is this: that in all those cases, I never once asked God what His will was in all of that.

In 1 John, it says, “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

Sometimes, the hardest part of prayer is giving our desires, hopes, and dreams over to God.

When I was in college, I had a professor who would always tell me, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

So often we get caught up in what we want and forget that God knows us and our future better than anyone else. Because of this, prayer can often seem like an oxymoron. We tell our request to God but allow Him to make the final decision.

After all, even Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36).

Think about it:

  • Does God always answer every prayer?
  • Why do you think God wants us to ask things according to His will?
  • If someone were to ask you why their prayers have not been answered, how would you respond?

Friday: The Never-Ending Prayer

Rejoice always, pray without ceasingin everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

“Pray without ceasing.”

Of all the Bible verses about prayer, I think this one is probably one of the most well-known, mostly because of the confusion it tends to cause with the “without ceasing” part added to it.

To be honest, the first time I heard this verse as a child, I immediately envisioned someone walking around all day long muttering prayers under their breath, be it while eating, sleeping, or using the restroom. You know, the same sort of people who end up in the mental hospitals.

What does it mean to “pray without ceasing”?

This question was posed on GotQuestions.org, and the response to that question included the following:

For Christians, prayer should be like breathing. You do not have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and essentially forces you to breathe. That is why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when we are born into the family of God, we enter into a spiritual atmosphere where God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on our lives. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers, we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer.

Prayer is more than getting down on your knees and asking God for help, more than closing your eyes and muttering a quick request under your breath. Prayer is meant to be a communication between us and God, two best friends sharing every worry, every joy, every desire, every pain with one another. Praying without ceasing essentially means that we are to be in constant communication with God, whether it is a long, drawn-out prayer or just a quick smile and “thank you.” In other words, it means God is always on our minds and in our thoughts.

Think about it:

  • What does the term “pray without ceasing” mean to you?
  • How can a person “pray without ceasing” in their daily lives?
  • Why is a life of constant prayer important?

Conclusion:

Prayer brings to life the words we read in the Bible, a powerful force working hand in hand with Scripture to connect us to the God who loved us so much that He was willing to die to save us.

Often times, we mistake prayer as merely another ritual, something that needs to be done. But we miss something incredible when we treat it that way: we miss the close connection we can have to God.

Prayer is a two-fold thing: on the one hand, God wants us to share our lives with Him and express to Him our love and thankfulness for Him; on the other hand, however, prayer is not meant merely to please God but, rather, to draw us closer to Him. It is our text message back to God and, though He doesn’t always answer the way we wish He would, He listens and answers us as long as we are listening too.

After Class Challenges:

  1. Interview three (3) people regarding their answered prayers and share the stories with your club, unit, church or family.
  2. Pray with someone that has a physical, emotional, or spiritual need.

Special Challenges:

  1. Keep a daily prayer journal for six weeks, recording your prayers and any recognized answers to prayer, and…
  2. Develop a personal prayer life by praying daily for a month for:
    1. A mission / missionary
    2. Person(s) who are ill
    3. A church or school leader
    4. An issue(s) affecting the neighbors of your community

Share your experience with your group and/or instructor.


Game/Activity:

Title: All You Need

About it:

Materials
A Bible and a soft object to throw, such as afoam ball or a wadded-up pair of clean socks.

Activity
Have everyone stand or sit in a circle. Say: “Let’s play a game called All You Need.” I’ll begin with a statement and will throw the ball to someone in the circle. Whoever catches the ball will finish the statement. For example, if I say, “All you need to make spaghetti is…” and then throw the ball to you, you might say, “boiling water.” And then you throw the ball to someone else, who might say “meatballs.” Then that person throws the ball to someone else, and so on. I’ll interrupt with new statements, so don’t be concerned if you don’t get to answer every statement. Let’s make sure everyone gets a chance to throw the ball.

Begin the game by saying: All you need for a good party is… Then have each person finish the statement as he or she catches the ball. As the game continues, interject the following statements:
· All you need to fix a flat tire is…
· All you need for a great concert is…
· All you need for a perfect weekend is…
· All you need to be popular is…
· All you need to make mee siam is…
· All you need to make friends is…
· All you need for peace is…
· All you need to recieve blessings from God is to … (PRAY)
ADD YOUR OWN IDEAS

Debrief
· What was easy about this game? What was difficult?
· Which statements took more thought? Why?
· Was everything mentioned really needed?
· Were some things needed that were not mentioned?
· Is prayer all we need? Why or why not?

Application
There are times when we think we need something, but it is not really a need. It is merely a desire, a wish. Sometimes there are things we need but we don’t realize it. Fortunately God promises to provide all our needs – Philippians 4:19. God is all we need and he blesses us with even more than we ask in our prayers.

Advertisements
Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s