601 SFL - Essential discipleship: Prayer


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Teaching notes for spiritual formation and leadership from LTCi Siliguri

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601 SFL - Essential discipleship: Prayer

  1. 1. This is taken from Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Donald S. Whitney Tuesday, 13 August 13
  2. 2. PRAYER... FORTHE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS Chapter 4 Tuesday, 13 August 13
  3. 3. A survey of 17,000 evangelical Christians found that on average they prayed for less than 5 minutes each day A survey of 2,000 pastors and their wives found they prayed for less than 7 minutes per day. Whitney says that prayer is second in importance only to God’s word. Carl Lundqvist said this about prayer and the wog... Tuesday, 13 August 13
  4. 4. “The NewTestament church built two other disciplines upon prayer and Bible study, the Lord’s Supper and small cell groups. JohnWesley emphasized five works of piety by adding fasting.The medieval mystics wrote about nine disciplines clustered around three experiences: purgation of sin, enlightenment of the spirit and union with God. Later the Keswick Convention approach to practical holiness revolved around five different religious exercises.Today Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, lists twelve disciplines – all of them relevant to the contemporary Christian. But whatever varying religious exercises we may practice, without the two basic ones of Emmaus – prayer and Bible reading – the others are empty and powerless.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  5. 5. PRAYER IS EXPECTED Jesus expects us to pray Matt 6:6-9 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father,who is unseen.Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words... 9 “This, then, is how you should pray:“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Lk 11:9, 18:1 Tuesday, 13 August 13
  6. 6. GOD’S WORD MAKES IT CLEAR Tuesday, 13 August 13
  7. 7. GOD’S WORD MAKES IT CLEAR Col 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  8. 8. GOD’S WORD MAKES IT CLEAR Col 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 1 Thess 5:17 pray continually, Tuesday, 13 August 13
  9. 9. GOD’S WORD MAKES IT CLEAR Col 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 1 Thess 5:17 pray continually, Did you notice anything about these two verses? Tuesday, 13 August 13
  10. 10. GOD’S WORD MAKES IT CLEAR Col 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 1 Thess 5:17 pray continually, Did you notice anything about these two verses? They are commands Tuesday, 13 August 13
  11. 11. GOD’S WORD MAKES IT CLEAR How devoted are you to prayer - compare this devotion to your devotion to other things in your life. This emphasises that prayer is relational - it comes out of an unbroken relationship with the Father.Whitney suggests it is like having two phone lines - God is always on one of them and you are aware of him even when speaking on the other. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  12. 12. Martin Luther, “As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  13. 13. What excuses do you use for not praying? Most people claim other demands, priorities etc. - yet if you asked them they would gladly tell you how important it is to pray! The call to prayer is also an invitation - Heb 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  14. 14. Note here that there is no need to be pessimistic about praying - God is happy to hear and give grace - prayer is not an obligation but an opportunity to respond and receive God’s command is a command of love - he wants to hear from us, to communicate with us and to bless us. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  15. 15. Prayer is important in spiritual warfare: John Piper suggests we can see prayer as the use of a walkie-talkie in warfare, not for our own convenience or ease of life. The example of Jesus in prayer is important - he prayed and so should we, he needed it, so do we - Lk 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Major reasons for prayerlessness: - a lack of discipline - prayer time is not planned or prioritised Tuesday, 13 August 13
  16. 16. - the problem of often not “seeing” the result of prayer - after all it is primarily a spiritual activity - sometimes we do not feel God’s nearness when we pray, it is easy to pray when we feel God’s closeness - when we don’t see the need to pray, Jn 15:5 “apart from me you can do nothing” - yet we are proud and self sufficient - when we do not see God’s greatness, when we lose focus on the cross Tuesday, 13 August 13
  17. 17. PRAYER IS LEARNED We start the Christian lives in need of learning to pray - and continue to grow and learn about prayer throughout our Christian lives. On one level we know instinctively how to pray - much as a baby knows how to ‘talk’ from its earliest days - yet still we need to see, as the disciples did, that we need Jesus to teach us to pray - Lk 11:1 - how do we do this? Tuesday, 13 August 13
  18. 18. 1. By praying Just as we learn a foreign language by using it - we might read about it, know how to pronounce words, build sentences etc. - but ultimately we have to speak out the language - HSp helps us in this, Jn 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  19. 19. 2. By meditating on scripture Meditation is the missing link between Bible intake and prayer. Reading the Bible should lead us into prayer, should help us to pray.After reading the Bible meditation allows us to take it deeper into ourselves, to digest it - then we can take it back and talk to the Lord about it in a meaningful way.What we read has now become more meaningful and purposeful in our lives. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  20. 20. John Owen: “Pray as you think. Consciously embrace with your heart every gleam of light and truth that comes to your mind. Thank God for and pray about everything that strikes you powerfully” Matthew remarked on Psalm 19:14 “David’s prayers were not his words only, but his meditations; as meditation is the best preparation for prayer, so prayer is the best result of meditation. Meditation and prayer go together.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  21. 21. Thomas Manton, Puritan pastor said “God’s Word feeds meditation and meditation feeds prayer. These duties go hand in hand; meditation must follow hearing and precede prayer. To hear and not to pray is unfruitful. It is rashness to pray and not meditate. What we take in by the Word we digest by meditation and let out by prayer. Men are barren, dry and sapless in their their prayers for want of exercising themselves in holy thoughts.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  22. 22. William Bates, Puritan pastor indicated “What is the reason that our desires like an arrow shot from a weak bow do not reach the mark? But only this, we do not meditate before we pray. Our prayers are ineffectual if we don’t meditate before we pray.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  23. 23. Speaking of the puritans PeterToon wrote, “To read the Bible and not to meditate was seen as an unfruitful exercise: better to read one chapter and meditate afterward then to read several chapters and not to meditate. Likewise to meditate and not to pray was like preparing to run a race and never leaving the starting line. The three duties of reading Scripture, meditation, and prayer belonged together, and though each could be done occasionally on its own, as formal duties to God they were best done together.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  24. 24. Whitney finishes this section with some insight from George Muller, “It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost, for more than fourteen years.The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished...Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning... Tuesday, 13 August 13
  25. 25. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of theWord of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, while meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experiential communion with the Lord...I began therefore to meditate on the NewTestament from the beginning, early in the morning.The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon his preciousWord, was, to begin to meditate on theWord of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of theWord, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  26. 26. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. The full story is well worth reading: http:// webcache.googleusercontent.com/search? q=cache:lHJJhsc8TlEJ:www.connsbrook.org.uk/ George%2520Muller%2520and%2520Bible %2520Reading.doc+&hl=en&gl=uk Tuesday, 13 August 13
  27. 27. 3. By praying with others One of the great learning experiences for the disciples must have been being with him and hearing Jesus pray. Find good models in prayer and learn from them. Do not repeat their habits but learn from their insight, passion, use of scripture etc. Do not repeat their words - or repeat the same words over and over Matt 6:7 Make it a habit to pray with other people - many great movements have started in this way Tuesday, 13 August 13
  28. 28. 4. By reading about prayer Remember Proverbs 27:17 & 13:20 Take time to read of the “great” prayer warriors - learn from their struggles as well as their successes. Almost every great man or woman who achieved things for God were people who prayed and prayed and prayed. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  29. 29. 4. By reading about prayer Remember Proverbs 27:17 & 13:20 Take time to read of the “great” prayer warriors - learn from their struggles as well as their successes. Almost every great man or woman who achieved things for God were people who prayed and prayed and prayed. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  30. 30. 4. By reading about prayer Remember Proverbs 27:17 & 13:20 Take time to read of the “great” prayer warriors - learn from their struggles as well as their successes. Almost every great man or woman who achieved things for God were people who prayed and prayed and prayed. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  31. 31. PRAYER IS ANSWERED Psalm 65:2 You who answer prayer, to you all people will come. Whitney says all prayer is answered, Matt 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  32. 32. Andrew Murray comments on Christ’s pledge. “Ask and you shall receive, everyone that asks receives.” Therefore, if you ask and receive not it must be because there is something wanting in our prayers. Maybe God answered in a way that is not obvious to us. Maybe we are asking for things that are outside the will of God or will not glorify Him. Maybe we are praying with selfish motives. Maybe we are failing to deal with blatant sin in our life. God does not mock us with His promises to answer prayer. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  33. 33. C.H. Spurgeon said “I can’t imagine anyone of you tantalizing your child by exciting in him a desire that you did not intend to gratify.When God leads you to pray, He means for you to receive.” We need to discipline ourselves to pray and pray aright so we can experience the joy of answered prayer. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  34. 34. MORE APPLICATION Since prayer is expected will you pray?You need to develop a specific plan about your prayer life. At what time of the day will you faithfully go before the Father? How long will you pray each day? Will you read the Bible? Will you read books about prayer written by godly men so you can learn how to pray aright? Where will you pray? You need a special place.Will you take action today? Tuesday, 13 August 13
  35. 35. John Piper says, “Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to. If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say,‘Hey, let’s go today!’ You won’t have anything ready.You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. “But that is how many of us treat prayer.We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready.We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  36. 36. “The opposite of planning is the rut. If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watchTV.The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it. “Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve.Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you. Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days.We all need midcourse corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer—for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  37. 37. Since prayer is learned, will you learn to pray? Will you learn about how others have prayed? Will you meet others to pray? Will you learn to pray by linking Bible reading to prayer via meditation? When will you start? Start where you are. If you are not praying, start. If you are not meditating, start. If you are not reading your Bible, start. Tuesday, 13 August 13
  38. 38. Since prayer is answered will you persistently pray? Matt 7:7-8 is in the present, continuous tense.That means we must pray persistently before answers come. If we fail to persist it may mean that at the heart of our prayer lacks seriousness about our request. God may want us to persist in order to strengthen our faith in Him. George Mueller observed, “The great fault of the children of God is, they do not continue in prayer, they do not persevere. If they desire anything for God’s glory, they should pray until they get it.” Tuesday, 13 August 13
  39. 39. Spuregon said, “Even as the moon influences the tides of the sea, even so does prayer influence the tides of godliness.” JC Ryle, "What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others? I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer. I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much." Tuesday, 13 August 13
  40. 40. Tuesday, 13 August 13