Lesson 4: A Life of Prayer

Memory Text:

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up (Psalm 5:3).


Fun Facts of the Day:

  • It is believed that Daniel was probably about 16 when he was captured and taken to Babylon…
  • And that he was about 19 when he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream.
  • Jesus was 12 years old when he taught the scholars at the temple (Luke 2:41-52). (He wouldn’t have even been in high school yet.)
  • There is archaeological evidence to support the story of Hezekiah. The Sennacherib stele records the Assyrian campaign against Hezekiah, who Sennacherib claims to have “shut up in Jerusalem like a bird in a cage.” He records the tribute given to him as well.

The Sennacherib Stele

  • Moses was a poet! Psalms 90 was written by him.

Lesson:

Lesson 4 – A Life of Prayer (PowerPoint)

So far, we have talked about what the Bible is, why we should study it, and what it means to pray.

In the world today, many believe that prayer is merely an option, something that can be done but isn’t particularly important. What many don’t realize is that prayer is an inseparable part of the Christian life, an aspect of a believer’s interactions with God that sets the stage for the life he or she will live. It is meant not just to please God but, more specifically, to encourage and strengthen our faith in and relationship with our Creator.

In Steps to Christ, it says:

Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul with God, so that life from God flows into our life, and from our life, purity and holiness flow back to God (pg. 98).

Examples of prayer can be seen throughout the Bible. Even Jesus prayed. Let’s take a look at some of the types of prayers recorded in the Bible. As you do, think about how these prayers might be applied to your life today.


Saturday: The ACTS of Prayer

In the Bible, there are four general categories of prayers. These are known as the ACTS of prayer. Every prayer that can be found in the Bible belongs to at least one of these categories.

A – Adoration (Praise)

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24-25).

Think about something you really love. Maybe it’s a person (a brother or sister, a parent, a friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.), maybe it’s food, maybe it’s a game or a movie, maybe it’s a sport or a hobby. Whatever we love, we can’t help but talk about, promote, and praise. Like us, God likes to hear that we love, adore, and revere him. But even more than that, our desire to praise God shows just how much we really love him.

C – Confession

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2).

David may have been a literal king, but he was also a king of confession. He had good reason to be, too. Of all the heroes in the Bible, few made more mistakes than David did. Yet David recognized his mistakes and actively sought to confess and seek forgiveness for the sins that he committed. Confession to God signifies true repentance for the mistakes we have made. Only by acknowledging our sins can our hearts be truly prepared for the grace that God wishes to give us.

T – Thanksgiving

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1).

Prayers of thanksgiving are some of the most common prayers in the Bible, but possibly one of the most forgotten parts of prayer in the life of the modern Christian. It’s easy to take what we have for granted, but it’s important that we not forget to thank God for what He has given us. Think of it this way: if it’s bad manners to not give “Thank You” cards to people who give you gifts at graduation, how much more so is it when we’re talking about God? And aside from that, thanking God for what He has done for us also helps us to realize and appreciate the blessings that we have in our lives.

S – Supplication (Requests)

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).

“Supplication” is the fourth and final category in the ACTS of prayer. The word can also mean “requests,” and is probably the most common type of prayer both in the Bible and in our lives today. One of the beauties of God is the fact that He does not require us to give him elaborate offerings or fancy words in order to consider the requests we bring to Him. Our wants, our needs, our hopes, our dreams, everything we have every desired is as important to God as it is to us. While He may not always answer us in the way we hope He will, one thing is certain: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Think about it:

  • How can the ACTS of prayer be applied to our own lives?
  • Which letter of the ACTS of prayer would you consider the hardest to do? Why?
  • What are some times in your life when you have seen God answer prayers?

Sunday: Show Me Your Way

Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people (Exodus 33:13).

Of all the characters in the Bible, perhaps none ever had a relationship with God quite like the one Moses had with Him. Few people have ever had the opportunity or courage to argue and dialogue with God the way Moses did. In Exodus 33:12-23, we read about one such instance. Here we find one of many dialogues between God and Moses. (Did you know that that is what prayer is? It’s a dialogue, a conversation between you and God.)

In this story, Moses is, once again, asking God for assurance that He is still there, that He is still leading, and that Moses himself is still in good standing with God. It hasn’t been long since the incident with the golden calf, and Moses knows just what his people really deserve for their behavior.

Then Moses makes a particularly bold request: “Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

Few people have ever been brave enough to seek out not just God’s presence but His glory as well. The fact that Moses requests this of God is significant, as the Israelites themselves were so afraid of God that they didn’t even want to hear His voice (Exodus 20:19).

It’s easy to think that Moses’s prayer in this section sounds just a little bit crazy. And yet God accepted his request, covering Moses with His hand and allowing him to see His back as He passed.

No prayer sounds too crazy when we seek God with all our heart.

Think about it:

  • What do you think made Moses brave enough to talk to God the way he did?
  • Can we also talk to God as openly as Moses did?
  • Has there ever been a time in your life when you have wished for God to reveal Himself to you?

Monday: You Will Answer Me

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me (Psalm 86:6-7).

David had problems. Lots of them. If someone wasn’t trying to kill him – be it his father-in-law, his pagan enemies, or his children – then he was probably doing something stupid to mess up his life in some other way. “Trouble” was David’s “middle name,” as the saying goes.

David’s prayer in Psalm 86 is one of the many he prayed in his lifetime, a prayer that God would save him from the people who wanted to kill him. Though the Bible doesn’t exactly say who was trying to kill David, we can guess it was most likely inspired by his time running from his king and father-in-law, Saul.

David’s road to rule didn’t happen overnight, and it was often filled with moments of pain, fear, and sorrow. Though chosen by God Himself and anointed as Israel’s next king, David was treated like the ultimate criminal for a very long time. He was hunted, betrayed, and forced to live in caves when he should have been living in palaces. In those moments of doubt, fear, and anguish, either with the heartache of mistreatment or the sorrow of guilt weighing heavy on him, David knew that he had a God he could turn to, Someone who could and would rescue him from the enemies who wanted nothing more than to tear David down.

David made a lot of mistakes in his life, but the beauty of his prayers is that he was always turning back to God, repenting for his sins and honestly seeking to bring glory and honor to the God he loved and adored. To David, God was his closest friend, someone he could put his faith in and trust to rescue him from the people who wanted to hurt him.

Think about it:

  • Have you ever felt like there were people who went out of their way to hurt you?
  • When people or things try to tear you down, how do you think you should respond?
  • Can David’s prayer help you in your own struggles?

Tuesday: That All the Kingdoms May Know You

Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone (2 Kings 19:16-19).

If you were to turn to the person next to you and ask them about Elrond, or Theoden, or anything regarding Game of Thrones, chances are, they’re going to recognize the names. Or, at least, they will know someone who is highly familiar with them. Stories of kings and wars are popular in this day and age, but sometimes truth can be just as exciting (if not more so) than fiction.

Few people know about Hezekiah, but if you want a story that is worthy of a novel, he’s the king for you. Hezekiah’s father was Ahaz, a man who “did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God” (2 Kings 16:2). Actually, this is putting it mildly. Ahaz, like so many of the Israelites at that time, had not only turned to pagan gods, but to pagan customs as well, even going so far as to offer his own children as burnt sacrifices to the pagan gods.

This is the environment that Hezekiah grew up in, yet somehow, he managed to learn what was right, turned away from the pagan gods, and put his faith in the one true God. Unfortunately, however, his actions alone could not keep his country from suffering the consequences of their actions. The invasion of the Assyrians, led by their king, Sennacherib (who lived from 705-681 BC) was one of the biggest consequences Hezekiah would have to face.

The prayer Hezekiah prayed in 2 Kings 19:15-19 is possibly one of the most powerful prayers in the Bible. Here stands a king with a massive army surrounding his city. His enemy has been spreading lies and instilling fear and doubt in the hearts of Hezekiah’s people. The God who lead their ancestors out of Egypt is but the faintest memory. Only Hezekiah and a handful of others have any sort of faith at all. And now he has received a letter from Sennacherib mocking him, his people, and the God he loves. Death and destruction seem inevitable.

So what did Hezekiah do?

He went to God’s house, laid the message before the God he trusted in, and handed the problem over to the only One who could stop an enemy as powerful as Sennacherib.

The end result?

Though Sennacherib records that he “shut Hezekiah up like a bird in a cage,” he was never able to take over Jerusalem. In the end, God destroyed a good portion of the Assyrian army, sending them back home where Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his own sons.

Think about it:

  • Are there times in your life when you feel surrounded by problems that are beyond your control?
  • Why do you think Hezekiah spread the message out in front of God?
  • How can Hezekiah’s prayer encourage us today?

Wednesday: Oh Lord, Forgive!

O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name (Daniel 9:16-19).

Here in the academy where I work, turning in electronics every night and going to bed by 10 PM seems like the end of the world to the kids living here. In a world where life is relatively comfortable, where our biggest problem is usually following Mom and/or Dad’s rules and surviving a meal comprised of leftovers, it is easy to forget how vital a relationship with God is.

The world that Daniel grew up in was no different. At least, not until Nebuchadnezzar came in and turned their world upside down. Daniel was probably 16 or 17 (possibly a junior in high school) when he was captured, taken away from his home and his family, hurt and mutilated in unspeakable ways, and forced to live in a land filled with people who neither knew nor cared to know about the God he served.

Though Daniel himself remained faithful through all of this, he wasn’t without his share of temptations. And the hardest part of it all was knowing that it was the sins of his people as a whole that had brought him to that moment. Yet even so, Daniel not only remained faithful, but he earnestly prayed that God would forgive his people and let them all go back home again.

Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:4-19, he prays for just that. Already he had seen so much happen. The Babylonians who had destroyed his country and taken him away from his home now suffered the same consequences of sin that the Israelites themselves faced. Their kingdom had been overthrown, replaced by the Medo-Persians not more than a year before. Daniel had studied the prophecies. He knew that soon it would be time for the Israelites’ 70-year-exile to come to an end. And he wanted his people to be ready when it did.

Daniel’s prayer here is a two-fold request. The most obvious part of it is that he sincerely desires forgiveness not just for himself for his people as a whole. The second part, however, is that he wants God’s forgiveness of them so that the rest of the world can see the power and kindness of the God he served.

Think about it:

  • Why do you think that Daniel prayed this prayer?
  • Do you think that God’s response to our prayers affects the way people see Him?
  • Is it important for us to pray for God to forgive the sins of others as well as ourselves? Why?

Thursday: Your Will Be Done

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

The day of Jesus’s execution was drawing near. Every sin that had ever been and would ever be committed was now resting on the shoulders of one Man. Though as much God as man, Jesus still felt the weight of the burden He carried. And He knew what was coming.

Long before the arrest, the trial, the beatings, the abuse, and the nails that tore through His hands which had only been used to create and to heal, Jesus knew what waited for Him in the near future. Already He knew that He was going to be betrayed by a man who had called himself a friend. Already he knew that the people who had cheered for Him just days before would soon be spitting in His face and calling for His execution. Already He knew that He would have to feel the pain of crude nails being hammered through his hands and feet into rough wooden beams. Already He knew that he would have to live for some time in unmitigated agony as gravity pulled him down, suffocating him, causing the nails to tear his hands apart and splinters to cut into his bleeding back. And worst of all, He already knew the stranglehold that Satan would have on Him as all the world’s sins were poured into Him, a man who had never sinned.

Jesus’s prayer in Matthew 26:39 is not the prayer of some distant, un-affected God, but that of one who, though fully God, was allowing Himself to feel every pain, every fear, and every doubt that we as believers are bound to face. Jesus was afraid. Death and pain are terrifying on their own, but with the responsibility Jesus also had as Savior of the world, His fear and stress would have been beyond our ability to understand.

His prayer was simple: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Like we so often do, Jesus was asking the Father for rescue, for the chance to do His work without the unspeakable amount of suffering He knew His current path would contain. There is, however, on key: “not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus did ask to be rescued, but He wanted to be rescued only if it was His Father’s will for Him to do so. He didn’t hesitate to bring His desires to His Father in prayer, yet He was still willing to do what had to be done if the answer to that prayer was “no.”

Think about it:

  • Have you ever had a time in your life when you’ve asked God for something and didn’t get what you asked for?
  • Why is including God’s will in your prayers important?
  • Do you think it’s OK to ask God to rescue us from unpleasant situations?

Friday: A Prayer for Us

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (John 17:20-23).

We often hear about prayer in the Bible. Abraham prayed. Moses prayed. David definitely prayed. Daniel prayed. And, of course, Jesus prayed.

Jesus’s tutorial prayer for His disciples in Matthew 6 and His prayer of rescue in Matthew 26 are the two that most people know about. But the prayer that often gets overlooked is actually one of the longest prayers Jesus ever prayed (if not the longest), as well as possibly the most powerful one for us today.

This prayer takes up the entire chapter of John 17 and comes after a discussion Jesus has with His disciples regarding His death and the lives they will have to lead after His time on earth is done.

The prayer in John 17 is separated into three parts. First, Jesus prays for Himself, asking His Father to glorify both of them in the work that He is about to do. Second, Jesus prays for His disciples, the friends that He will leave behind to face what He knows will be a very hostile world. And third, Jesus prays for us. Yes, for us, in this day and age some 2000 years after Jesus walked on the earth.

Jesus already knew how hard it was for the disciples to have faith and courage while they were there with Him. He already knew the trials they would face after He was gone, too. But even though they would face some very bad things, the disciples had one very notable advantage over us: they had actually walked and talked with Jesus in the flesh, face to face. And if they had a hard time, Jesus knew that it would be twice as hard for those who had never seen Him face-to-face. And so there, in that moment, even while He was still sitting with the disciples, Jesus prayed for us, for all of those believers who would accept the truth even without having the opportunity Thomas had to touch His scars, hear His voice, and see His face.

Think about it:

  • What do you think about the fact that even Jesus prayed?
  • Why do you think that Jesus prayed for Himself?
  • How does it make you feel to know that Jesus prayed for you 2000 years ago?

Conclusion:

Prayer is more than just an optional exercise in the life of a Christian. Rather, it is a vital part of our walk with God, as well as a privilege that is too often overlooked.

Prayer isn’t just a ritual. It is both a signifier and a strengthener of our relationship with God, a means of communication between God and mankind that has been handed down through generation after generation. Even Jesus prayed: for strength, for guidance, for rescue. And as Christians (those who are like Christ), if prayer was important not just to believers in the past but even to Jesus Himself, then it should be just as important to us, too.

Special Challenges:

  • Read or listen to the chapter in Steps to Christ by Ellen G. White entitled “The Privilege of Prayer.” You should be able to discuss what you learned with the rest of the class next Sabbath.
  • Memorize six (6) different verses about prayer. For each memorized passage, be able to tell (as appropriate):
    • What a person prayed for
    • The person’s prayer location
    • Time a person prayed
    • The person’s position in prayer
  • Pray aloud at two of the following occasions:
    • Pathfinder/AY Meeting
    • School meeting
    • Potluck
    • Sabbath School
    • Church Service
    • Prayer Meeting/Small Group meeting

Game/Activity:

Title: Name That Prayer

Prayer Skit Verse Slips

How to play:

  • Prior to starting, write the verses of prayer stories found in the Bible, such as those of Hezekiah, Esther, or Jesus, on slips of paper. (The stories should be ones that are either familiar or that have been recently studied.)
  • Fold the slips of paper, and place them in a hat, jar, bowl, or some other container.
  • Split the group into teams of three or four people.
  • Have each team draw a slip of paper and spend a couple minutes studying the story.
  • Each team should then act out their given story without moving their mouth or making any sound. (Motions only.)
  • The other teams will be asked to name the prayer story, telling who is praying, what is being prayed for, why the prayer is being offered, and what the result of that prayer was.
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