How do you describe your prayer life? When someone ask you, how’s your walk with God? What will you say? Anyone wants to share?If our reply is “good”, what is the definition of good?Concept of a conversation in prayer:-Like how we start conversation, - goes through conversation, and - end a conversation.More than conversing- It’s connecting and -growing deeper with God. - A very powerful tool if one knows how to use it.First time prayer used in bible – Gen 4:26, 26Enosh means “humankind.” In the OT, the term is often used in poetic texts that emphasize human mortality, frailty, and weakness (e.g., Ps 144:3, “mere mortals”). Enosh was born at the time when people began to worship the Lord by name (literally call on the name of the Lord). In Genesis, that meant calling on the name of the Lord through sacrifice and prayer.Importance of setting a suitable time/place and being aloneJesus example, very early in the morning…Went off (going some-place) out of comfortSolitary place, no distractionsBible didn’t say it’s every-day… but bible did say (heb 5:7), Jesus did from day to day. If Jesus needed it, how much more do we need?
Prayers can be used to do the followingA guide and surrendered heart to make difficult decisions (Luke 6:12)Having a thirst for God, wanting to get close to God (Ps 42:1-2, 63:1)Bringing to God requests that we have Prayer, primarily is to attune our hearts to god’s will and understanding the heart of our heavenly father. God is not a genie, he is far better/superior than a genie.Genie gives us what is good and bad, no care of consequence.The god we worship, gives us only the good stuff, and not only that, it’s far more essential than we think we need.Many-many steps ahead in knowing what we need, even before we realize.(Heb 5:7), Jesus prayed to such extreme. In our daily battles against sin, do we pray likewise?Share of experiences in prayer:Finding a place to work while I was studying in TPTime to study, time to work, balance in ministryGoing steady.. How did I save more heart-aches? God knew better for me.Finding a place to stay before we got married
As much as we’d like to prioritize prayers, Satan is also creating hindrances to prayers:Share some hindrances of prayers… examples?Our sinful nature. When we sinned, we have tendency to withdraw from God. On contrary, in Psalms 66:16-20, God listens, and He knows even when we feel that He is not and is far away.Tired and having no answer from God… (Luke 18:1-8), God’s timing is perfect. This parable doesn’t mean that God need us to keep coming to him. It simply shows God’s character and that we ought to trust in Him. Imagine you have a son… your son asks for pocket money. He asks for 10 dollars. You say later. He keeps asking… you say later. And he asks and asks… now there’s a reason why you say later… and he may not understand it. Your son has a belief that you will give him the money. You want to give him the money too… but if son keep bugging you… won’t you feel irritated?Homework: Study the lord’s prayer. Luke 11:1-4, create your own TODAY’s version of Lord’s prayer.
Bible definition in Hebrews 11:1[11:1] Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.Your own version of what is faith. If a non-christian asks, explain faith… with example.Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Meaning, only with faith that God can be pleased with us. Heb 11:6.Is there a difference between faith and belief? (it’s almost the same… belief comes as a reason. Reason to believe in something…)What is faith? – in a practical sense (From CS Lewis)We believe in something because we see the evidence of it.When we accept something as true, we go on believing it’s true until another reason appears to reconsider that belief.We often think that our mind is ruled by reason, but doesn’t necessarily so.For instance, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetic will numb me, and surgeon will not operate on me until I am sleep. But when I lay on table, I will still be afraid. Why? Feelings: What if anaesthetic doesn’t numb me? What if surgeon didn’t realize I am not sleep yet?Thus at that moment, I lost faith in anaesthetics. And surgeon…It’s not reason that’s taking away my faith in anaesthetics. My faith that anaesthetic will numb me and bring me to sleep is based on reason. And… the reason is true.It’s my imagination and emotion that is taking away my faith and reasoning.A pretty girl is not trustworthy of secrets, but somehow when I am attracted, my mind will ‘reason’ with itself saying, I ‘believe’ this time it’ll be different. Senses and emotions cause us to destroy the faith and reason we have. As a Christian, we reasoned and decide that the weight of the evidence is for it… all of a sudden, there will be what people call ‘spiritual attacks’… where bad news, or trouble, or people who doesn’t believe will cause an attack to your reasoning. There will be time we want to lust, or say a lie, be selfish…those moments in which it was very convenient if Christianity isn’t true. Faith, then is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. Moods will change, whatever view your reason takes.Unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off’, you can never be a sound Christian.
Therefore, one must train in the habit of faith.First step is to recognize that moods change. Next, train the faith… How to train in habit of faith?Prayers, Bible reading and going to church.Idea is to be continually reminded of what we believe.It won’t auto-stay alive. It needs to be fed.People who lost their faith in Christianity, doesn’t get reasoned out by atheism. They simply drift away.Faith, without deed.. is dead as per James 2:14-17
The bible calls us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Then, for it is god who works in you. Sounds puzzling?Eph 2:8-10 – we are not saved by works that’s for sure! But we are designed to do good works. The way Jesus did it. Note: we’re God’s workmanship1 Kings 5:1-15 – Story of NaamanWho is naaman – usElisha – godLeprosy – sinLots of lesson, but main thing today:Nothing we offer to God is needed by God.God cleanse us because he wants toElisha said to go in peace, Naaman became more pro-active in gratitude. We too, ought to follow such an attitude. Similar attitude is shown with Zacchaeus who went the extra mile to return the money he took.
God works inside and around us through people. No words can actually explain that thing out with clarity. Different people explains differently, based on what we see, those who insist strongly on importance of good actions, tells us that they need faith. And those who insist on faith, tells us that they need to do good-actions.It is Important to Practice Christian virtues, doing what is right… but ultimately realizing that every abilities we have and everything we own, is owned by God.Work has its seasons too! There will be a time to rest and there is no shame to it. Understanding your limits, tapping onto God's wisdom for strength, finding rest in God are part of the life of a Christian. Importance of routine. - memory scripture. Important in these day and age.
Concluding Thoughts:Do you agree that being a Christian is tough?No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.If we give up in first 5-min of battle, you won’t know that army is very strong.Bad-people, know very little about bad-ness, they’ve lived a sheltered life by giving in.Christianity may seem at first to be all about morality, all duties, rules, guilt and virtues. Yet it leads you on and out of that, into something beyond. Main thing we learn about practicing Christian virtues is that we fail.God and exam… need to be removed.If we do good, we get good marks and we deserve good marks… need to be removed.If there was a bargain, as long as I do this… God need to do this and perform his part of bargain, need to be removed.Why do we do that? Christianity is not about passing or failing. Or dealing/bargain with God. The goal is actually heaven. In heaven, it no longer matters whether we follow the law or not…or whether we ought to have more faith or more work… all of us (with goodness) will be like mirrors, filled with light. They don’t call it anything close… they just can’t be bothered. They’re too pre-occupied with the source of the light.
Follow Up Studies - Christian Living - Prayer, Faith and Works
Follow-UpStudy 01PRAYER – FAITH - WORKS
Prayer… Describe in 1 sentence, your prayer life… What is good prayer life? More than conversing with God Trivia: when was prayer introduced in the bible? Genesis 4:26 …call on the name of the Lord… Prioritizing Prayer as something Important Mark 1:35 Not action… but attitude of the heart
Power in Praying Prayers can be used to do the following Guiding the heart (Luke 6:12) Thirst for God (Ps 42:1-2, Ps 63:1) Requests for the desires of our heart (Heb 5:7) Better than a Genie Extreme prayers of Jesus… loud cries and tears! Do we pray likewise? How are we using our prayers? Share of experiences
Satan’s TricksHow-How-How? Share hindrances of prayers – examples? Sinful nature, running-MAN Psalms 66:16-20 Tired of waiting on God Luke 18:1-8Home work… 21st Century - The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4)
Faith… Definition of Faith? Hebrews 11:1 Explain faith in your own words Faith and Belief… Any difference? Explaining Faith – the practical sense
Why Faith? Why do we need faith? Please God… Training in the habits of faith Faith and Deeds James 2:14-17
Work.. Work and where does it lead us to? Working out our salvation with fear and trembling Ephesians 2:8-10 The story of Naaman in relation to ‘work’ 2 Kings 5:1-15 Lessons learnt from the old man There’s nothing God need from us God choose to clean us The Proactive attitude
Work more… God works The Fight between Actions and Faith Practice Christian Values (Very-Important) Seasons of Work Time for Everything, Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 Routine is a good thingGood routines such as: Fasting regularly Serving regularly Memorizing scriptures regularly
Concluding thoughts onWork Being a Christian is tough! Agree? Christianity is not all about duties, rules, guilt andvirtues Failing Christian Virtues – the reality No more scoring No bargaining The GOAL – HEAVEN Helping one another stay focused
Homework… Keep a prayer journal for 2 weeks Read the journal at the end of the week. Share what you’ve read with a close friend Create a 1-liner – what is your reason to believe inGod