Prayer: a better way: A beginners Guide to prayer
There is incredible power and potential in prayer. Through prayer, we invite the God of the universe into a situation and into our lives. Prayer changes things, but even more prayer changes us. Through prayer, we have the opportunity to reach our full potential in Christ. As we grow in our prayer life, we become more alive and more engaged with what God is doing. None of us are perfect at prayer, but as we take steps to grow spiritually in our prayer life, the impact is incredible.
Something To Talk About:
- God loves for me to talk with Him: Prayer is simply just talking to God. I think that many people pray more than they realize, but because we have complicated prayer and turned it into a formal religious activity, we step back from prayer. God just wants us to talk to Him. Prayer is the communication process between us and the Lord. Isaiah 65:24 says, “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Christianity is a relationship with a living God. This relationship is built on communication. We need to talk to God (pray) and let Him respond. God is not too busy to listen to you. He is ready and able to give you His full attention. Jeremiah 18:1-2 says, “The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” Psalm 102:17 adds, “He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas.”We can and should talk to God about everything.
- God listens to prayers that are simple and sincere: Longer is not stronger when it comes to prayer. God is much more interested in humble and authentic prayers than a long-winded sermon in prayer. Just get to the point. You don’t have to convince God of what you need. He already knows. Just come to him as simply, honestly, and humbly as you can, and talk about what you need. Don’t use prayer to show off. Instead, be sincere. Don’t spout off clichés. Don’t add in fillers because you’re afraid your prayers are too short. Talk to God like you would to a loved one or a good friend. Adding words to your prayer doesn’t make it any stronger. Keep it simple, with a sincere heart and sure faith.
- God likes to show His goodness by answering prayer: How much confidence do we have in prayer? We might pray as a last resort, when we’ve run out of options, or when we have the slimmest of hopes, but it’s not something we rely on. But Jesus and the Bible talk about answered prayer like it’s a sure thing, a certainty, something that is extremely reliable. Jesus said “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) What language could Jesus have used to make it more certain than, “you will receive what you ask for?” He loves to meet your needs. He doesn’t do it begrudgingly—He loves it. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” And he means everyone. He doesn’t say every nice person, or every religious person, or even every person who serves God. No, “…everyone who asks receives.” God proves His goodness when you ask. We learn to trust God by watching for the many ways he meets our needs and answers our prayers.
- God longs to be close to me: God isn’t far away. In fact, it’s just the opposite. In fact, God is one big step closer than anyone else ever can be; He’s there in you. He’s there in the room with you. And when you sit in that meeting with a customer, and your mind is working a million miles an hour trying to understand problems and develop solutions, He is there. When family problems mount, He is there. In the toughest moments in life, we can have the incredible, indescribable joy and peace because God is in that place. We don’t need an international mobile phone to talk to God; we can talk anytime, anywhere, because He is there. We can ask for advice, help, guidance, wisdom and then trust that He will guide and lead us in the way we should go. He’s right there with you every moment. The Bible says, “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:27) It may not seem like God is close, but the reality is that God is with you right now.
- How did you learn to pray? Was it modeled for you? Were you taught specific prayers as a child?
- Someone once said that “life is a prayer.” Agree or disagree and why?
- What is your motivation to talk to God?
- Why do you think God loves for us to talk to Him?
- Why do you think God prefers humble, authentic prayers to eloquent, long-winded prayers? Does knowing God wants you to use simple, sincere words when you pray make it easier for you to pray in front of people? Why or why not?
- The happy—or dramatic—answers to prayer tend to get the most attention from fellow Christians and the Christian media. Does this help or hurt your attitude toward prayer?
- Have you felt a sense of a prayer being answered? Have you felt a prayer was not answered?
- Do you believe God is always there? How have you experienced that?
- Are you ever afraid to ask others for prayer for yourself? Why or why not?
- What practical suggestions have helped you most in your prayer life? Why?
- What was one thing you found particularly interesting, insightful, helpful, or difficult to understand from this sermon?
Take one thing home with you:
From the beginning of Northstar, we have made it a priority to seek God first in prayer. We understand the importance of prayer both as individuals and as a community of believers. While we encourage individuals to engage in daily prayer we have also created opportunities to engage in prayer as a community. There is no greater need in the life and ministry of a church, and we invite all of you to partner with us over the next few weeks through prayer.