The Spirit Helps Us Pray - Lesson 1


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"This study seeks to explore, mainly from a biblical perspective, the entire scope of prayer. The goal is not merely to provide academic understanding, but the higher purpose of developing a corp of people who pray and who therefore make a difference for God in the world. As (we) are burdened and inspired to pursue dligently an active prayer ministry, (we) will enrich our lives, impact (our) our ministry to Christ and His Church, and consequently generate waves of spiritual influence to the ends of the earth." This is the first of an 13 week study

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  • Welcome to “The Spirit Helps Us Pray – A Biblical Theology of Prayer” or as I like to call it “Biblical Prayer for Dummies.” Actually, someone already beat me to the title “Christian Prayer for Dummies.” I figured since they have every other book for dummies, why not one for Biblical Prayer. We shouldn’t need instruction in prayer but we all do. Frankly, we’re all pretty dumb when it comes to prayer. Ask yourself this questions? When was the last time you actually did a Bible study on prayer? Typically, we do a Bible study with prayer but seldom is prayer the focus of that study. Why is that? Tonight I am going to reference a tremendous little book on prayer entitled “The Kneeling Christian.” The book is by an unknown author. But listen to this: "Let us never forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for man is to pray. For we can accomplish far more by our prayers than by our work. Prayer is omnipotent; it can do anything that God can do! When we pray God works. All fruitfulness in service is the outcome of prayer— but perhaps many of us need to cry... as the disciples did of old, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Well, this study we’re going to unpack that, we’re going to study prayer. We’re going to be in the school of prayer. We’re going to ask “Lord Teach Us To Pray.” Are you ready? Just say “Yes, Lord, I’m ready” if you are.
  • Okay, so what’s with this title “The Spirit Helps Us Pray!”? Romans 8:26 holds a truth we need to understand. (Read Verse) And, through this study we’re going to unpack the truth of this verse. We know that Jesus told us to pray always, Paul told us to devote ourselves to prayer, to praying continually. Have you ever thought, “how impossible that is?” But the truth is it’s really not! Would the Lord ask us to do something He knew we couldn’t. As Christians we have within us the power to do just that, to pray without ceasing, when we recognize that the Holy Spirit is within us praying. My prayer for this class is that each of us will live more in that power each day, that through a new understanding of the power that is within us, we will pray more, pray better, and pray without ceasing. Andrew Murray, a missionary and great man of prayer said "If the spiritual life be healthy, under the full power of the Holy Spirit, praying without ceasing will be natural." Wow! That’s what I want, what about you?
  • Okay for some house-keeping before we dive in to tonight’s study. So what’s this class all about? REFER TO: Syllabus What you will need: This book is available on Amazon often for less than a $1.00 plus shipping and handling. We have 6 copies available. What we will do: We will follow the syllabus which is based on the book. We will look at the people of the Bible and how they prayed We will look at the various prayers and the principles we can glean And, then we will pray Now, I don’t expect to do all the talking since I know there are some very well seasoned Saints here So, we will discuss what we are reading and learn from one another. If I start to preach you can feel free to stop me. Now, before we get started let me open in prayer
  • The objective of this class is to journey through the Bible to Explore - We will be looking at prayer from Genesis to Revelation and at the end of the class look at contemporary movements Enrich – We will be looking at prayers of the people of the Bible from Adam and Eve to the New Testament writers Encounter – We will look at prayer in all it’s various forms which we’ll talk about more starting in this Introductory Lesson.
  • Power – Presence – Progress – that is what Prayer is all about His Power and His Presence leads to our Progress of being transformed into His image which leads to the Progress of His Kingdom and it all depends on Prayer. Could there be any greater purpose in our life than to pray?
  • Tonight’s lesson we’re going to look to answer three primary question What is prayer, why pray and how to pray? The ‘How to’ we’ll develop as we go through the study. .
  • What is prayer? Both Biblically and historically or anthropologically prayer is one of the oldest human practices, it is practiced by every known religion throughout history. Even the remotes aboriginal tribes have expressions of prayer to a god or gods. (Review Slide) Looking at these statements, what impressions do you have regarding what is said about prayer?
  • There are many forms of prayer expressed all over the world today. Some examples from the major world religions are (review slide): The commonality that the World’s religion share is prayer; what other major world religions also have in common is the repetitive nature of their prayers, often offered as penance to appease their god or gods. In the preface of the classic book “The Kneeling Christian” the following story is told: A traveler in China visited a heathen temple on a great feast-day. Many were the worshippers of the hideous idol enclosed in a sacred shrine. The visitor noticed that most of the devotees brought with them small pieces of paper on which prayers had been written or printed. These they would wrap up in little balls of stiff mud and fling at the idol. He enquired the reason for this strange proceeding, and was told that if the mud ball stuck fast to the idol, then the prayer would assuredly be answered; but if the mud fell off, the prayer was rejected by the god. The unknown author continues: We may smile at this peculiar way of testing the acceptability of a prayer. But is it not a fact that the majority of Christian men and women who pray to a Living God know very little about real prevailing prayer? Yet prayer is the key which unlocks the door of God’s treasure-house.
  • Here are some quotes from Christians who were great thinkers in Church history. What difference do you see, as compared to the previous slides, in the focus expressed in these statement? (Responsive) The Kneeling Christian has this story about Dwight Moody: MR MOODY was once addressing a crowded meeting of children in Edinburgh. In order to get their attention he began with a question: “What is prayer?”—looking for no reply, and expecting to give the answer himself. To his amazement scores of little hands shot up all over the hall. He asked one lad to reply; and the answer came at once, clear and correct, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.” Mr. Moody’s delighted comment was, “Thank God, my boy, that you were born in Scotland.” But that was half a century ago. What sort of answer would he get today? How many English children could give a definition of prayer? Think for a moment and decide what answer you yourself would give. The question before us in this study is “what is Biblical Prayer” So how would you define it? (Responsive)
  • So what is Biblical prayer? For our purposes true Biblical prayer is not merely a matter of saying the right words. It’s praying the way the Bible teaches us to pray. When we pray that way we will experience prayer as the men we just read the quotes from did. Now this study is subtitled a “Biblical Theology of Prayer.” Theology is the study of God, and, of course God has given us the Bible so we can understand Him. Therefore, a theology of prayer is understanding prayer from God’s perspective. Over the next 12 weeks we’ll be looking at the people of the Bible who prayed, why they prayed, how they prayed, and the results of their praying, in an effort to understand what Biblical Prayer is. But here is a definition I came up with for Biblical Prayer. (Review Slide)
  • If pray is the most important expression of the Christian life, something we’re instructed to do always; why then is it so neglected? Why is it that Christians, especially American Christians, pray so little? The Kneeling Christian opens the first chapter with these thoughts: (Review Notes for Text) But think with me, We get to know someone when we spend time with them. And, we really do want to know God better, right? I know I do. So again, why is there so little prayer? (Review slide) Can you think of any other reasons we don’t pray as we know we should?
  • The biggest reason is our adversary; whatever you personally may think on the issue, the Bible is clear that we have an enemy. Satan losses when Christians pray! (Refer to Slide) These are some other quotes from “The Kneeling Christian” Samuel Chadwick, an English preacher of the 1800’s also adds: “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying.  He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. Chadwick also wrote a book entitled “The Path of Prayer” When we know who are enemy is, and we know what the Bible says about him, we can defeat his plans to keep the Church prayerless. We’ll look at this more when we look at how Jesus and Paul dealt with the enemy later in the study. Now let’s consider these questions this little book asks: “Do I really believe that prayer is a power? Is prayer the greatest power on earth, or is it not? Does prayer indeed “move the Hand that moves the world”? What say you? Of course, we should say yes, but our lives too often tell a different story, don’t they? (Rhetorical)
  • So why then do we pray? (Review Slide) Obviously Jesus wasn’t simply making a good suggestion and Paul didn’t just need something more to do. The Bible is rather clear on the significance of prayer. The Kneeling Christian continues in the first chapter: Has it ever occurred to you that our Lord never gave an unnecessary or an optional command? Do we really believe that our Lord never made a promise which He could not, or would not, fulfil? Our Savior’s three great commands for definite action were:— Pray ye Do this Go ye! Are we obeying Him? How often His command, “Do this,” is reiterated by our preachers today! One might almost think it was His only command! How seldom we are reminded of His bidding to “Pray” and to “Go.” Yet, without obedience to the “Pray ye,” it is of little or no use at all either to “Do this” or to “Go.”
  • So how then do we pray? The first chapter of “The Spirit Helps Us Pray” introduces these various forms of prayer all of which are found in the Bible. (review slide) They represent various expressions of prayer, as prayed by the people of the Bible who prayed. If you’ve prayed at all, which I’m sure you have, you expressed these various forms of prayer, I know I have. Our prayer can express one of these, several combined or all these various ways to pray at one time of prayer, perhaps multiple times per day, and hopefully without ceasing, right? But it’s not as important the form you use when you pray but why and how you pray – the how being more a sense of direct connection with God and His mission. Again, it’s the POWER – PRESENCE – PROGRESS of prayer that is important. There are some other P’s of prayer perhaps – Posture and Place – but they aren’t nearly as important as the first 3 - POWER – PRESENCE – PROGRESS
  • Several years ago I had the distinct privilege of working with David Bryant, founder of the Concerts of Prayer movement in the 80 - 90’s. David had a passion for Christ’s supremacy that was profound and deeply touched my own life. David wrote a book entitled “Christ is All” in which he, as you can see from the size of this book, expounds of the supremacy of Christ. I am jumping ahead in the Biblical order, but as I thought about the how of ‘how to pray’, this truth of Christ’s supremacy stands out as so fundamental to answering that question of “How”. So it needs to be presented right upfront. If we don’t have a passion for Christ’s supremacy, we will never develop a passion for prayer, even when we have an understanding of Biblical Prayer. If we don’t take the head knowledge and allow it to transform our hearts, this study will just be another academic exercise. And, that’s certainly not my intent for this study. (handout – review)
  • We recently went through the 21 Days of Prayer; where we began each day with asking for God’s heart, and then praying for our city, nation and then the world. The reason we did this was to capture the essence of the Great Commission Jesus gave us. Tonight I’d like us to pray through a similar pattern in the time we have remaining. Pray these points. But before we begin we will want to do one thing. Does anyone know what Psalm 51:10 says? “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” That needs to be the beginning of our prayer journey. Note: Leave minimum 30 minutes for prayer. Depending upon class size break into small groups.
  • In closing, the 1 st chapter of The Kneeling Christian closes with these words: Let us never forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for man is to pray. For we can accomplish far more by our prayers than by our work. Prayer is omnipotent; it can do anything that God can do! When we pray God works. All fruitfulness in service is the outcome of prayer—of the worker’s prayers, or of those who are holding up holy hands on his behalf. We all know how to pray, but perhaps many of us need to cry as the disciples did of old, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Any questions? (Ask someone to close in prayer)
  • The Spirit Helps Us Pray - Lesson 1

    1. 1. “ The Spirit Helps Us To Pray” A Biblical Theology of Prayer “ Biblical Prayer for Dummies”
    2. 2. “ In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26 “ The Spirit Helps Us To Pray”
    3. 3. About this Study <ul><li>What you will need : </li></ul>Book Title: “The Spirit Helps Us Pray-- A Biblical Theology of Prayer” By: Robert L. Brandt & Zenas J. Bicket Publisher: Logion Press ISBN: 0-88243-678-3 Bible & a willingness to Learn and Pray! What we will do: Meet every Tuesday – 7:00 – 8:30 February 23 rd – May 18 th 45 to 60 minutes – Study/Discussion 30 to 45 minutes – Prayer
    4. 4. Objectives <ul><li>Explore , mainly from a Biblical perspective, the entire scope of prayer </li></ul><ul><li>Enrich our lives through a study of the prayers of the people we find in the Bible </li></ul><ul><li>Encounter the various expressions of prayer we find in the Bible </li></ul>
    5. 5. Purpose <ul><li>expand our understanding of the power of prayer for transforming our lives </li></ul><ul><li>engage in a deeper relationship with God to experience more of His presence in our lives </li></ul><ul><li>encourage an active prayer life to progress Christ’s Kingdom for God’s glory </li></ul>
    6. 6. Lesson No. 1 An Introduction to Prayer
    7. 7. What is Prayer? <ul><li>“ Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.” Socrates </li></ul><ul><li>“ The greatest prayer is patience” Buddha </li></ul><ul><li>“ Salat is an obligation. Whether your heart is attentive or not, it must be performed. You cannot give up Prayer because to you it appears useless.” Khurram Murad </li></ul><ul><li>“ Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” Mahatma Gandhi </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: &quot;O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.&quot; And God granted it.” Voltaire </li></ul>
    8. 8. What is Prayer? Catholic – Rosary Islam – Salat Hindu – Japa Mala Buddhist – Khor
    9. 9. What is Prayer? <ul><li>&quot;Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.&quot;  --Martin Luther. </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own.” --John Calvin </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Prayer is the greatest of all forces, because it honors God and brings him into active aid.&quot;  --E.M. Bounds </li></ul><ul><li>“ Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.” --Oswald Chambers </li></ul><ul><li>“ Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God.” --Andrew Murray </li></ul>
    10. 10. What is Biblical Prayer? <ul><li>Biblical prayer is… </li></ul><ul><li>Distinguished by Biblical understanding, </li></ul><ul><li>Evidenced by right thinking about the greatness of God, </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding of the supremacy of Christ, </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciating our own unworthiness and weakness, for the </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose of knowing the Father more fully, </li></ul><ul><li>Experiencing the Holy Spirit more wholly, and </li></ul><ul><li>Cooperating with Jesus mission more completely, </li></ul><ul><li>For the transforming of our lives and that of others </li></ul><ul><li>All for God’s glory and honor! </li></ul>
    11. 11. Why so little prayer? <ul><li>We live in an culture that avoids intimacy and close relationships </li></ul><ul><li>We live to perform rather than to be, preferring the active life more than character and relationships </li></ul><ul><li>We fail to understand the purpose of and role of prayer in maintaining our relationships </li></ul><ul><li>We do not appreciate the awesomeness of the gift we have been given in what should be our primary relationship </li></ul><ul><li>We lack understanding of God’s ultimate purpose and therefore think much smaller about God than we should </li></ul>
    12. 12. Why so little prayer? <ul><li>Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. </li></ul><ul><li>Satan trembles when he sees, The weakest saint upon his knees. </li></ul><ul><li>Satan does not fear because we are eager and earnest Bible students —provided we are little in prayer. </li></ul><ul><li>Satan loves to see us “up to our eyes” in work: provided we do not pray. </li></ul><ul><li>Satan’s chief way of hindering us is to try to fill our minds with the thought of our needs, so that they shall not be occupied with thoughts of God, our loving Father, to Whom we pray.” </li></ul><ul><li>The Kneeling Christian (Author Unknown) </li></ul>
    13. 13. Why Pray? <ul><li>Because Jesus suggested it’s a good idea: </li></ul><ul><li>Matthew 26:41 “ K eep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!” </li></ul><ul><li>Luke 18:1 “ Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. ” </li></ul><ul><li>Because Paul needed something to do: </li></ul><ul><li>Ephesians 6:18 “ And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. ” </li></ul><ul><li>Colossians 4:2 “ Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” </li></ul><ul><li>1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually” </li></ul>
    14. 14. How to pray? <ul><li>Adoration – deep love or esteem </li></ul><ul><li>Communication – a two-way exchange of information </li></ul><ul><li>Communion – intimate fellowship </li></ul><ul><li>Confession – acknowledgement or declaration </li></ul><ul><li>Contrition – the act of grieving </li></ul><ul><li>Entreaty – pleading urgently </li></ul><ul><li>Intercession – to put pressure on </li></ul><ul><li>Mediation – to focus one’s attention </li></ul><ul><li>Petition – an earnest request </li></ul><ul><li>Submission – surrender </li></ul><ul><li>Supplication – To ask for humbly or earnestly </li></ul><ul><li>Thanksgiving – public acknowledgement of divine goodness </li></ul><ul><li>Travail – painful or laborious work </li></ul><ul><li>Worship – ardent devotion </li></ul>
    15. 15. How to Pray? <ul><li>With a understanding of Christ’s Supremacy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>TO us – His supremacy is eternally rooted in His nature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FOR us – His supremacy became fully visible through His incarnation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OVER us – His supremacy as Ruler of history and Lord over the nations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BEFORE us – His supremacy is displayed also by His pioneering leadership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WITHIN us – His supremacy is revealed through His saving presence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>THROUGH us – His supremacy reaches out by His Spirit through His Church </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UPON us – His supremacy fully realized at His return </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Time to Pray <ul><li>Pray for God to prepare your heart for the journey ahead – Psalm 51:10 </li></ul><ul><li>Pray to know and understand Christ’s supremacy in your life and relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Pray to witness Christ’s supremacy in our city and region </li></ul><ul><li>Pray for Christ’s Supremacy and God‘s glory to fill the earth </li></ul>
    17. 17. Next Week Prayers of the Patriarchs and Their Contemporaries Pages 35-56