Week 4: Prayer Is A Constant
As you get to know God better
through the study of his Word, you will find that a relationship is slowly but
surely developing between you and the Lord our God.
This is no more different from an
adopted child who is getting to know her biological father through his personal
letters or his published works. Even though she’s never met him in person or
seen any of his pictures, this child still finds that she knows the man well
enough to want to connect with him. This is true of believers everywhere. As
spiritual children of the one true God, we cannot help but yearn to connect
with the Lord. Most of the time, this longing translates into prayer, where we
speak to God from our heart.
From the Old Testament to the New
Testament, the Bible reveals that men and women connected with God and prayed
to him as naturally as they spoke to their biological fathers. It was as if the
Lord was an involved and attentive parent whose door was always wide-open and
whose telephone line was never tied up. Certain of God’s unconditional love and
confident of his response—be it a Yes, No, or Not yet—these men and women
reached out to the Lord in prayer as they went about their day. They prayed to
him in the morning, and they prayed to him at night. They prayed to him when
they were happy, and they prayed to him when they were sad. Although God is
spirit and these men and women could not always see God face to face, their
prayers speak of a meaningful relationship between God and his children. In
this lesson, we shall study how we can also make prayer a constant in our own
personal relationship with him.
Some Basic Principles
A Two-way Communication.
Prayer is so wonderful because
God hears you and answers you. The Lord promised, “Ask, and it will be given to
you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone
who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be
opened” (Mt 7:7-8). You probably have a few testimonies of your own. For
example, God may have helped you through a difficult time because you cried out
to him in prayer. Perhaps you experienced a deep sense of peace after you took
a personal struggle to the Lord in prayer. You may have recalled a Bible
passage in your prayer that addressed your particular needs at the time. The
Holy Spirit may have reminded you of God’s great love that you were moved to
tears in prayer. Although God’s answer doesn’t always come in the way or the
time that we expect it to come, we know that he listens to us, and we can
experience a deep spiritual communion when we speak with him in prayer.
As children of God, every one of
us has a built-in need to reach out to him in much the same way a child reaches
out to his/her parent. In many instances, this child could be found to say no
more than an I love you, a Please, or a Thank you. We
see an example of this kind of interaction in David’s life. Sent to tend his
father’s sheep in isolated pastures where wild animals lurked, David learned,
at a young age, to reach out to God (1 Sam -37). He had the same faith when, a little older, he
was confronting Goliath, the giant, at the battlefield (1 Sam 17). He carried
this faith with him when, as a grown man, he was running away from King Saul
and was hiding in a cave (Ps 57). And even when David became king and was
living in a palace, he had this same faith to reach out to God in prayer, at
anytime and anywhere (2Sam7:18-29).
Nothing Is too Trivial.
The Bible speaks of a man whose
master sent him to the old country to find a bride for the master’s son. On the
evening he arrived outside the city, the man prayed. “Behold, I stand here by
the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to
draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down
your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your
camels a drink’ – let her be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant
Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown
kindness to my master” (Gen 24:13, 14). It is written that even before the man
finished speaking, there was Rebekah, coming out with
a pitcher (Gen 24:15)!
Be Aware of God’s Presence.
Nehemiah was a man who was keenly
aware of God’s presence in his everyday life. Although he lived a comfortable
life in the court of King Artaxerxes, his heart was
with the people of his homeland. As soon as he heard that they were living in
great poverty and that their city was unprotected, Nehemiah wept and prayed
with fasting. Because Nehemiah felt that he needed to return to Jerusalem, he had to ask
for the king’s permission to leave. So being always keenly aware of God’s
presence, Nehemiah prayed before he spoke to the king, who immediately helped
to make his trip possible. Then, when there was opposition to their rebuilding
the wall that protected their city, Nehemiah simply turned to God in prayer.
Even when Nehemiah was improving the living conditions of his people, he made
it a priority to instill this same awareness into the hearts of his people
(Nehemiah, chapters 1 – 13).
Change and Adapt.
As with all things, you need to
give yourself time to change and adapt to a life of prayer. Perhaps there is no
better testimony than that seen in Jesus’ apostles. While Jesus knew
instinctively to turn to God in prayer at all times and particularly in
difficult situations, we see that his apostles didn’t know how (Mt 26:36-46).
But all that changed. For example, the Bible tells us that after Jesus went
back to heaven, the apostles returned to Jerusalem and spent the time in prayer
with other believers (Acts 1:12-14). Then, when they were ready to select a man
to replace Judas who had betrayed Jesus to his death, Peter knew how to lead
about 120 men and women in prayer (Acts 1:15-26).
Respond to Inspiration.
Have you ever found yourself
thinking, I just want to pray? Was there a time when it occurred to you that
you completed a difficult assignment on time only because the Lord had sent
someone to help you at just the right time? When thoughts of prayer cross your
mind and you can take a break, find yourself a quiet corner to pray. Or even if
you’re rushing down the hall to go to the next class or the next meeting, pray
in your heart. And if you’re a parent juggling work, carpool schedules and the
family dinner, be prepared to whisper your prayer of thanksgiving each time you
catch your breath. For a glimpse of some of the deepest thoughts of prayerful
men, read the book of Psalms.
Schedule Prayer Time.
Bearing in mind that a few quick
“hellos” and “goodbyes” cannot build a meaningful relationship, it helps for
you to plan ahead and schedule prayer times each day. The Bible speaks of
Daniel, a man who had the responsibility to help govern a great kingdom.
Although he was a busy man, the Bible records that, as was his custom since
early days, he knelt down on his knees three times a day, and prayed and
thanked God (Dan 6:10). Jesus, too, had a busy schedule that we can all relate
to. In his case, he woke up before anyone else and went off to pray (Mk. ). We also learn that he prayed
at the end of his work day (Mt. ).
Then there’s the psalmist who prayed “seven times a day” (Ps 119:164).
Make the Commitment.
For a relationship to succeed at
any level, there must be a sense of commitment from
both parties. This is true of personal as well as business relationships. In
many ways, a spiritual relationship is the same. The Bible tells us that God
committed Himself to loving us even before we learned to love him. Now that we
know what he’s done to save us, it is fitting that we commit ourselves to
loving him. Paul, an apostle, was such a man. After Paul became a believer, he
committed his life to loving God. He went everywhere and talked to anyone who
would listen to everything he knew about a loving God. Equally importantly,
Paul impressed upon the believers to be committed to God through prayer. “Pray
without ceasing,” Paul wrote (1Thess ).
He also let the believers know that he was praying for them (2Thess ). And he asked them to pray for
him (2 Thess 3:1).
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new ideas that could
work for you.
What does “Prayer is a Constant” mean to you?
Praying is talking to God from your heart. T/F
List at least 3 principles from this lesson.
Whenever Jesus needed to make a decision, he did
not say, “Let me think about it.” What did he do instead?
When we think about Jesus and his prayerful
relationship with the heavenly Father, it was as if they were constantly on the
phone with each other—or if you prefer, they were always online and never
signed off. Why was this a good thing for Jesus?
When was the last time you had such an
experience and knew in your heart that you were getting through to the Lord and
he to you?
Psalm 61 is one of David’s many prayers to the
Lord. Using this as an example, write yours in the space provided. Although
David’s prayer is eight verses long, your prayer may be of any length.
Why must a disciple be aware of God’s presence
in his or her every waking moment?
In addition to spontaneous prayers that may
sometimes seem like quick “hellos” and brief “good byes,” why must we make time
for substantive prayers?
Prayer was a constant in Paul’s life. Briefly
describe how we know this to be true.
a long-time Christian, asks you, “Why do I need to pray to keep up my
relationship with God? Everyday at work I see hundreds of people who don’t
pray, and they seem to be doing just fine. In fact, I’ve seen how John keeps up
his relationship with God; he prays for about a minute before he goes to bed.
We can still be a faithful Christian without praying, right?”
How would you answer Steve? Elizabeth, a recently-baptized believer, loves to
read the Bible and pray everyday. Every Sabbath, she goes to the prayer room
and prays for at least half an hour. Sometimes, she even fasts and prays during
the lunch hour. But after a few months, you notice that Elizabeth no longer prays or reads the Bible.
Concerned, you ask her how she is doing in her walk of faith. Elizabeth says, “I feel like a cup of hot
coffee that has gradually grown cold. I know my faith is weak, but I just don’t
feel like praying anymore.”
How would you advise Elizabeth?
Robert is a college student and lives in the dorms. He has two roommates who do
not believe in the Lord, and they are always in the room when Robert wants to
pray. Even when they’re not in the room, Robert doesn’t like to pray because
he’s afraid his roommates might come in and see him speaking in tongues as he
is praying. Since he doesn’t want to offend his roommates, he decides that it’s
okay to only pray when he goes to church on Saturdays.
Do you think Robert will have any problems with his spiritual progress?
What do you see as Robert’s biggest obstacle? How
would you advise him?
on a certain time in the day for prayer, and keep this consistent every day.
You may decide to have one longer session, or break it up into two. Be sure to
choose a time that works for you and that you will be able to stick to. If
you’re an early riser, schedule a longer prayer time in the morning or if
you’re a night owl, schedule your prayer time at night.
If you don’t already have one, ask someone to become your prayer buddy.
Ideally, you should meet to pray together. If this isn’t possible, you can pray
at the same time in your respective places. Share your prayer lists with each
other, and keep each other updated about the status of your prayer items.