Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us, and looking ahead in 2019 and into 2020, I believe it has never been more important for God’s people to be on our knees.
Something To Talk About:
Prayers aren’t empty words hurled at the sky. They’re conversations—in fact, they’re the most important conversations of our lives. This message focuses on the importance of prayer. Consider these four steps:
- Make a place and a time for prayer: Find a quiet place where you can be alone. If indoors, choose a specific space in a room, perhaps a corner that is not used for anything else. You might like a small table and chair. Or maybe you have a prayer closet (like in the movie War Room); where it is not that important as long as you have a regular place to pray. Then pick a time. The quietness of early morning and just before bed are often good times for prayer. You may find other times during your day. Pick a time and try to stay with it for a while. If it doesn’t work out, don’t be discouraged: just pick another time until you find a time that fits best for you. Some people like to have different times depending on the day or their personal schedule of school and/or work.
- Just don’t heap empty phrases: We must be so careful when we bow our heads to pray or lift our voices to sing. God is not impressed when we utter mere words such as “Praise the Lord!” or “Hallelujah!” Just as we cannot just go through the motions in any aspect of Christian life, we don’t want to get to the point where we are just uttering common phrases when praying. It suggests you are not willing to work at communicating with God. It’s easy to slip up and get complacent. Work gets you down, money gets you down, life gets you down, and, one day, you wake up and look in the mirror and realize that you have wasted a ton of time not giving God your best. There will be days like that. But God desires so much more for us. He wants to hear from us. Be passionate about praying. Pray specifically. Pray persistently. Pray believingly.
- Use the model that Jesus gave us: So when they came to Jesus, as told in Matthew 6, they didn’t say, “Teach us another prayer.” They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is Christ’s response. It is a beautiful prayer and one that every Christian should hide in their hearts. But elegant as the words are, I do not believe Jesus intended it to become another ritualistic prayer. Rather, it was to be an example of how to pray. Luke 5:16 tells us, “…Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” The word “often” indicates that Jesus prayed regularly. Throughout the Gospels whenever we read of Jesus and prayer, it comes up regularly and naturally. It was integrated into every aspect of Christ’s life. The prayers of Jesus were heartfelt. Jesus did not pray in a cold, distant manner, but in heartfelt supplication, demonstrating empathy and a genuine love for God. Can we say the same about prayer in our life?
- Start today: Prayer is simply talking to God—and the most important thing I can say about this is that God wants you to talk to Him. He loves us and He has promised to hear us when we pray. If you are not in the habit of praying, then start. Don’t think about praying. Don’t talk about praying. Just get started. Make it personal, and take time to pray – right now. Whisper or speak normally. Stand, sit, kneel, or go for a walk. Shift your focus from yourself to Jesus by thanking Him. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions when you don’t understand something about the Christian life; after all, God wants you to come to know Him more and more each day. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the privilege of prayer—a privilege that is possible because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Exercise that privilege starting today.
- Why do you think it is hard to make time for regular communication with God?
- Read Matthew 6:5-6: In what ways do our motivations affect our prayers?
- Read Acts 1:14, and 2:42: What do you think would happen in your life, our small group, and our church if we are “united” in and “devoted” to prayer?
- Read Luke 5:16: What can we do to put ourselves in a position to hear from God? Where are the best places where you can be alone with God?
- It has been said that dependency is the foundation of prayer. Agree or disagree? What are the areas of your life where you are showing your dependence through prayer?
- Read Ephesians 3:14-19. Imagine this prayer becoming a reality in your life. How would things be different?
- Is it OK to repeatedly pray for the same thing?
- When you are communicating with God, who is doing all the talking?
- What is intercessory prayer?
- What practical suggestions have helped you most in your prayer life? Why?
- Make a list of all the things that interfere with your prayers. For each one, identify an action that could minimize, or completely eliminate, the interference.
Take one thing home with you:
Who’s doing all the talking?
Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they talk on and on, but as soon as you say something, they change the subject? Or maybe you were the one talking their ear off and weren’t interested in what they had to say. We all know people who dominate the conversation to the point you can’t get a word in edge wise. When you never participate in the conversation it makes you feel unimportant and unheard.
Communication is a two-way street, and listening is just as important as talking. How many times have we shut out God’s voice by doing all of the talking and not listening? And we definitely don’t want to miss out on what God has to say to us – it’s most likely the answer to our problem.
Aside from talking to the Lord, try taking some time out to just bask in His presence and praise Him. It is during these times of praise that we feel His loving, truthful presence the most, as He speaks into our hearts and minds. God is a speaking God, and He speaks to His children every day. We have the wonderful opportunity to listen to Him and learn to hear His voice. We don’t have to go through life blindly making decisions or relying on our own abilities. We can hear Him clearly and consistently. Begin to listen and be confident in knowing that He wants to speak to you and He wants you to hear His voice.