#355 - PRAY THE PROMISES (21/5/21)
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)
Jesus tells us this in order to motivate us in prayer. He doesn’t tell us about the Father’s foreknowledge so that we can become passive and feel that prayer is not worth the time.
Firstly, we must embrace the mystery that our prayers are powerful, effective and needed, even though the Father knows what we need before we ask Him. Jesus teaches us to pray and so it must be important to pray.
We can find prayer intimidating if we feel that we might get it wrong; What if I ask for the wrong thing, don’t include everything, don’t confess all of my sins…? However, we are to come simply and bring our prayers to Him and we can trust Him to deal with what we truly need.
Pray the promises
Don’t so babble and talk that you forget to listen to the Father tell you what you really need! Prayer is about listening to God - principally in scripture - tell us what we really need. As He speaks, we are to pray what He reveals. For example, we read of Daniel,
‘In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments…' (Daniel 9:1-4)
We are to plead the promises. Lloyd-Jones wrote,
‘The Father's used to use this great term -- 'Pleading the promises.' You never hear it now. Why? Because people do not really pray any longer, they send little telegrams to God. They think that that is the height of spirituality. They know nothing about 'wrestling' with God and 'pleading the promises.’
So, when we read the Bible, let’s be listening to the Spirit. As we read a text, be asking questions like: What does this say about God…about His people…about me…a promise to believe…something to obey…? As we think about such questions, let’s worship and pray out of our meditations.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - PRAY LIKE GOD IS YOUR FATHER
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What is the happiest moment that you can remember about your parents?
Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we began looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding prayer.
Please read Matthew 6:5-8
This parallels what we looked at last week about wealth from Matthew 6:1-4. Likewise, we are to pray to our Father, but not for a show.
1. When you pray
Jesus expects His disciples to pray. If we are to do this, we must believe that it's important. Secondly, we must make a plan; it's important that we plan when and where we will make time to be alone with God each day.
2. Pray to the Father
Effective prayer is mindful of the identity of God as Father. Without this, our prayers can go bad; we can come to believe that we must use many words and perform well if we are to get God to listen and act.
Our confidence in prayer is that Jesus has given us His perfect righteousness and adopted us into the family of God.
3. Your Father knows your needs
Finally, we are told that our Father already knows our needs. We come to one who loves us and is willing to do what's best for us.
This also means that we are to listen to the Father - principally as we read scripture - to hear what He tells us that we need. When God reveals His will and promises in scripture, we are then to pray the promises and according to His will.
1. What did God speak to you about from Sunday's message?
2. Why is it helpful to address God as Father and what does this mean?
3. When and where do you pray?
4. Jesus reveals His promises in scripture so that we can trust and pray them. Do you have examples of doing this?
Serving, Investing and inviting
1) Have you got any encouraging stories of serving, investing and inviting that you'd like to share?
2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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