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 (A New Life in Christ)
Week 5: What to Pray About
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Week 5: What to Pray About

Jesus was a man of prayer. The Bible tells us that before Jesus began his public ministry, he fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert. Except for angels who attended to him, Jesus was alone (Mk ). He was about 30 years old, and the time had come for him to fulfill his mission. Being in the form of a man, the Lord could only have experienced many of the same emotions as would a person about to embark on a rescue mission that would result in certain death. But Jesus also knew full well that the eternal lives of countless people hinged on this one sacrifice he must make. For such a significant cause, Jesus, the Son of God, could only fast and pray to God the Father for the strength and perseverance to accomplish his mission.

The Bible also tells us that throughout Jesus’ three-year ministry, prayer would continue to be the pivot of his life. For example, when a busy day lay ahead, Jesus made it a point to get up before daylight, locate a quiet place, and spend the time alone in prayer (Mk 1:35). The Bible tells us that Jesus was also committed to praying at the end of a busy day (Mt 14:23). Even a time-out resulted in prayer (Lk 5:16). It is no wonder, therefore, that one day, a disciple said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1). In this lesson, we shall study what it is that Jesus taught his disciples to pray about.

Some Basic Principles

As quoted from Mt. 6:9-13

“Our Father in Heaven”

When we pray, we must keep in mind that we are communicating with God and that he is listening to us. Not only is our Lord the majestic and almighty God, he is also our loving Father (Rom , Gal 4:6). We can come to him as a child would his father, presenting to him anything, because he cares for us (1 Pet 5:7).

“Hallowed Be Your Name”

This phrase reminds us to honor and glorify Jesus’ name. We can praise and thank the Lord for his wonderful deeds and blessings in our prayers and in our talks with others. A thankful heart is vital to effective prayer (Ps 116:17, Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1Thess ). We can also glorify Jesus’ name by living godly lives that will honor him. Literally speaking, we must not take Jesus’ name in vain (Ex 20:7, Dt ) or use it carelessly.

“Your Kingdom Come”

We pray that the Lord’s kingdom and all that it represents—love, joy, righteousness, and peace—will reign in our hearts, families, and society. We pray that the Lord will manifest his kingdom in this world, driving away evil and darkness with his glorious light. We look forward to the coming day when we will be with the Lord forever in his heavenly kingdom.

“Your Will Be Done”

We have many needs and desires, but it is important that we align these with God’s will. As Jesus faced his coming crucifixion, he prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Lk ). We can bring all of our requests before the Lord, but ultimately, we should ask that he accomplishes his will for us. Remember that in prayer you are to fully surrender your will over to God’s will (Mt ; 26:39; Heb 5:7,8).

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

 The Lord is our Sustainer and Provider, so we can bring to him our every need, both spiritual and physical ones. We should remember to give thanks to him for his sustenance. It also reminds us to be content with having our daily provisions (Prov 30:7-9).

“Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Forgive Our Debtors”

In our prayers it is important to confess and repent of our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). Otherwise, sin will separate us from God and ultimately lead to death (Jas ). As we ask God to forgive our sins, we should also examine ourselves to see if there is any enmity between us and other people. If we do, we need to forgive them from our hearts and make peace with them (Mt -24). Unity is an important principle for effective prayer. The early church’s unity was one reason they had effective and powerful prayer (Acts ; 2:1, 46; , 32).

“Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation, but Deliver Us From the Evil One”

We pray that the Lord will keep us from temptation and sin, preserving our faith until the day he comes again. God not only sustains us physically, but he also sustains us spiritually. Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Heb 12:2), and we rely on him to guide us step by step through this journey of faith.

“For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever”

Our Lord Jesus is the almighty God and Lord of the universe. We pray with the understanding that all glory belongs to him, and we seek none for ourselves.

Suggested Guidelines

A prayer list can often help you stay focused and motivated. Since most of our prayer content falls into three categories, the following serves as an example.

Things Pertaining to God.

·         Praise and thank God for his grace and salvation (Ps 50:14; 116:13, 17; Dan -23; Phil 4:6).

·         Praise and thank God for his blessings in your life and in the lives of those around you.

·         Pray that the gospel may be spread (Col 4:3)

·         Pray for God’s power to preach his word (Acts 4:29-30) and to do his work.

·         Pray that God’s will may be done (Mt 6:10, 26:39)

Things Pertaining to Others

·         Pray for family members, relatives, friends, or brothers and sisters in church who need God’s hand (Lk -32; Acts 12:5; Col; 1Thess ; Heb )

·         Pray for those who are newly baptized or seeking the truth.

·         Pray for those who have sinned against you or have persecuted you (Mt 6:12).

Things Pertaining to Ourselves

·         Pray for the Holy Spirit if you haven’t already received this promise (Lk -13).

·         Pray for the forgiveness of your sins (Mt 6:12).

·         Pray for deliverance from evil and temptation (Mt 6:13)

·         Pray that you can surrender to God’s will and come under his rule (Mt 6:10; 26:39).

·         Pray to edify yourself and build yourself up in the spirit (1 Cor 14:2, 4; Jude 20)

·         Pray for God’s comfort in suffering (Jas 5:13) and for healing (Jas 5:14-16).

·         Pray for God’s guidance on important decisions (Lk 6:12,13).

·         Pray for wisdom (Jas 1:5) and revelation (Dan 2:16-19).

·         Pray for your physical needs (E.g. Mt 8:2; 2Cor 12:7,8).

·         Humbly pray for spiritual gifts to serve the church, keeping in mind that spiritual gifts are given according to God’s will (1Cor 12:11; 14:1, 12-13).

QUESTIONS

1.      Jesus was a man of prayer. T/F

2.      What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ prayers?

3.      Memorize the Lord’s Prayer and write it down.How does knowing that God is our heavenly Father affect our attitude during prayer?How can we “hallow God’s name” in our daily lives?As we bring our requests before God, what should be our attitude?Why is it important to ask for God’s forgiveness in prayer?How does our relationship with others affect our prayer?Why would a prayer list be helpful?As human beings, our greatest challenge may perhaps be when we pray that God’s will be done. Was there a time when you wondered if you actually meant what you prayed about? How did you struggle and overcome so that God’s will was done?

Case Studies

1.      Jenny has prayed every day for God to strengthen her faith and help her family. However, recently she’s been having some problems with her prayers. Jenny says, “As you probably know, I always pray that God will improve my faith and bless my family. Thanks to God’s grace, my faith has improved and my family doesn’t really have problems anymore. But nowadays, things are going so well that I just don’t know what to pray about anymore. So until things start going bad again, my prayers just seem pointless.”

How would you advise Jenny on improving the content of her prayers?

2.      Darrell has a reputation of being a godly and faithful Christian. Without fail, he attends every service and is never late. Darrell is excited because he’s been assigned to lead Bible studies in his local area. Darrell really wants this Bible study to make an impact on people’s faith, so he thinks, If I had the power to heal like apostle Peter or Paul, others would believe in God. If that crippled sister was healed, that would really encourage others in their faith.” With that in mind, he begins to pray for the spiritual gift of healing. He prays to God for this gift every day for three hours. After six months of this kind of prayer, Darrell still does not have the gift of healing. Losing his faith in God, Darrell gives up praying and resigns from leading Bible studies.

Is there was anything wrong with the content of Darrell’s prayer? If so, how would you suggest that Darrel change his prayers?

3.      Cassie has been seriously observing Lisa in church ever since Lisa commented, “What an interesting dress.” Cassie was sure that it was a sarcastic remark with a veiled insult. Lisa was probably just jealous. Now during her prayers, Cassie can’t help but wish that God will discipline Lisa for her rudeness and jealousy. A few Sabbaths later, Lisa accidentally spills coffee all over her new blouse. Cassie can’t help but have a good laugh in her heart. Later that day, Cassie offers up a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving her justice.

How do you think the relationship between Cassie and Lisa affects Cassie’s prayer life?What changes do you think Cassie needs to make?

Activity

1.      Make a prayer list. List all of your prayer requests and group them in a way that is easy for you to remember. Post this list in a visible area, and share this list with your prayer buddy.

If you have a long prayer list, you may want to split up the items and devote certain days for certain subjects. For example, you can devote Sunday for family, Monday for God’s work, Tuesday for friends, Wednesday for the church, Thursday for brothers and sisters in church, Friday for personal cultivation, and Saturday for praise and thanksgiving.

 

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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