Prayer: a better way: Part 2
Everything about our lives — our attitudes, motives, desires, actions, and even our words — is influenced by our view of God. It determines the way you look at your problems, the way you look at your future, and the way you look at your relationships.
Bottom line: How can I pray out of delight rather than duty?
Something To Talk About:
- How can I pray out of delight instead of duty?: Prayer can be viewed as a conversation, activity, ritual, or obligation. We pray because we’ve been told we must. Prayer becomes a chore, an item on the to-do list, another expectation we’re not quite meeting. It can feel pretty stiff as we recite formal “prayer words” like they say in church or follow a prescriptive format? Yet, truly, prayer is a privilege, an opportunity to develop a friendship with God. What a gift that God wants to spend time with us and develop a personal relationship. How much more will we desire prayer if we first invest in developing a relationship with the One we are praying to? How much more meaningful will our time in prayer be if we view that time as a privilege, instead of an obligation? Praying is so much more than mere duty. We have to move beyond time spent out of duty-bound obligation and come to cherish and desire that time. Our prayers matter.
- Pray to the God who puts my good above His own: This is the heart of the Gospel. God says you’ve sinned, you deserve punishment, but I’m a good God and I love you, and I’m also holy and just. So here’s the deal, I’ll do it, I’ll pay for your sins. I will come to earth as the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and I will die for your sins. You’re not dying for mine, I’m dying for yours. This is the ultimate expression of love; the Shepherd dies for the sheep. The cross is the greatest symbol of the goodness of God; the perfect One dies for the imperfect ones. Nobody ever will offer to pay for your sins, except God. When God looks at you, He does not see your sin. He sees God’s goodness. When Jesus Christ died for you on the cross, He solved your biggest problem. Any other problem you have in your life is small potatoes. He loves you enough to help you with your bills and your health and your relationships. There is nothing you can’t bring to God in prayer. If He loved you enough to die for you, He loves you enough to answer your prayer.
- Pray to the God whose plans for me are always good: God is good, so by nature, He cannot do bad things. Everything God does is good. And so, because God is good, God’s plans for your life will always be good. Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.” There is a connection between prayer and God’s plans for your life. There is a purpose for your life, otherwise, God could have just let you be born and then wander around aimlessly. Everything has a purpose and a plan. God gave you a plan for your life. Why? Because He loves you. He is a good God, so he put a lot of thought into creating you. God’s plans for your life are revealed and realized through prayer. The more you pray, the more you’re going to understand God’s plan for your life. When you pray to Him, He listens, and He answers and reveals more of Himself to you.
- Why do you think people and churches struggle with prayer today? What obstacles (practical, spiritual, emotional, etc.) keep us from taking everything to God?
- What keeps most people from praying on a regular basis? What are some specific ways we can overcome those challenges? On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, how would you rate your time spent talking with God this past week? Explain.
- If your prayers were written like those in the Psalms, what would those who read them learn about your concept of God?
- How does the fact that God puts our good above His own affect our daily lives?
- When was a time when you really knew you were living God’s plans for you? How did you know? Or, when was a time when you realized that you were not living God’s plans for you? How did you know?
- Proverbs 16:4 says: “The Lord has made everything for His own purposes.” What are the implications of this verse for our lives? How does your prayer life reflect how much you want to understand God’s plan for your life?
- What are some next steps that you need to take in your prayer life?
- 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.